Strategy for Change

Strategic planning is a place some will not venture.  In the Church, it is the pseudo-spiritual that see no basis for the practice of the organization.  Addressing the Church’s unique ministry context is required for Church leaders.  Proverbs 19:21 states, “There are many devices in a man’s heart; nevertheless the counsel of the Lord, that shall stand.”  We can make a lot of plans, but God’s purpose stays the same.  Our challenge, to keep the God’s purpose as the mission in our plans.

Seeking God’s purposes are the first part of strategic planning.  Knowing what we are supposed to be doing (mission and vision) is important.  Why are we planted in this particular area?  Are there specific needs that we are to meet here?  What does God want us to look like in the end?  These are the important questions to ask.  Once those plans are established, we can then move to the operational strategy.  It’s one thing to know where we are going; it’s another to know how God wants us to get there.

If you are not convinced that strategic planning is for Christians, let’s look at several scriptures from Proverbs.

Proverbs 14:15: “The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh well to his going.”
Proverbs 15:22: “Without counsel purposes are disappointed: but in the multitude of counsellors they are established.
Proverbs 16:3: “Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be established.”
Proverbs 16:9: “A man’s heart deviseth his way: but the Lord directeth his steps.
Proverbs 20:18: “Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war.

Nehemiah is an example of strategic planning.  He had a burden (1:4), and he had faith (1:18).  But, did Nehemiah have a plan?  Yes, and we see the steps he took to refine it and bring it to a completion.  He knew what God wanted him to do and what the finished product would look like.  He was to rebuild the city of Jerusalem (2:5).  He knew that it would take supplies and secured them with the signature of King Artaxerxes.

Where we are, where we want to go, and how to get there.

When Nehemiah came to the city, he went out and saw the actual devastation for himself (2:12-16).  In planning, we need to know where we are.  What ground our are we currently standing on?  A vision will show us where we are to go, but we won’t know how to get there until we are aware of where we stand.  If you go to Google maps to find a route to travel, you have to find out where your start and end points are.  Only when those two points are known, can a pathway forward be found?

Will your original plan be full-proof and perfect?  Probably not.  Even Nehemiah had to make adjustments to keep moving forward to fulfill his mission.  Chapter four begins to detail the opposition that came to derail their progress.  Nehemiah had to adjust his plan (3:9-23).  Change comes with planning, action, adjusting, action, adjusting, action, and so forth until completion.

With God’s blessing, Nehemiah was able to complete the rebuilding of the city wall in fifty-two days.  An astounding feat, indeed.  There is a saying attributed to Ignatius, “pray as though everything depends on God, and work as though everything depends on you.”  In this perspective, we have full faith that if something is not of God, it will fail.  Still, God wants us to put our hands on any work he would have us to do.  We are to serve God with the best of our ability, whatever level that is.  To ensure we are doing are best, strategic planning becomes a necessity.

Our prayer, “Father, we are burdened for our local Church and community and You have shown us what You desire of us.  Now, we pray that You would open our eyes to see what path we are to walk.  Open the doors that we are to enter.  Supply us with our needs that we may bring You glory and build Your Kingdom. Amen”