Where do we start?
The starting point of any planning exercise must be the finishing point! Where are you aiming to go and how are you going to get there?
Planning is about taking a journey with many stages. It is no good just leaving your starting point ‘on a whim’ and hoping you will go somewhere useful. It is vital that you have clear goals in mind. It is also important to know where these have not yet been fully defined in order to allow flexibility in planning and be able to make adjustments as the journey progresses.
Look forward to look back
When teaching on planning I sometimes ask people to imagine that they are meeting the day after an event has taken place. I then get them to suggest the things they will be able to share that tells them that the event will have been a success. These could be things to do with Values (teaching, worship etc), Responses (salvations, called to mission), Delegate Experience (gleaned from feedback), Administration etc. If a clear definition has been made in advance about what the event was trying to accomplish there is some basis for assessing its success and learning where it fell short to help you plan on future occasions.
Planning for a ministry is broadly the same as for an event but it does not have the obvious completion dates at which to carry out an assessment, so these need to be determined and put in the diary. There are other aspects which differ and I will try to highlight these as we progress.
How did Nehemiah do it?
In the book of Nehemiah we can find many keys to planning and I will use these as we go through this series to illustrate particular points.
So what did Nehemiah do about about goals?
In Neh 1:4 he had heard from his brothers that the walls of Jerusalem were broken down and he wept. An ache formed in his heart and he began to think ‘I wonder, can I rebuild them?’ He started to pray.
Many goals start with a dream. It may seem too big in the natural but things in God get done if we dream big dreams! Nehemiah was not deterred. After a season of prayer he stood before King Artaxerxes who noticed that he was not his usual self and asked what the problem was. At that point Nehemiah ‘prayed to God .. and said to the king’ (Neh 2:4-5) and spoke out what was on his heart. A dream was born and the goal was set – to rebuild the city. Note, it was not just the wall – it was the city. So it seems that God had allowed his dream to grow and had given him faith that he could achieve it.
Let us not be backward in dreaming big dreams, saturatingthem with prayer and seeing what God says! Then set some faith filled goals!
In the next postings I will look at sharing vision for the activity and strategies to achieve the goals.