Article by Teresa Chang
God likes to plan. He sees the end from the beginning and works all things according to the counsel of His will (Ephesians 1:11). He is outside of time—interacting with all time, at the same time, in His eternal timeframe. Therefore, He is able to move us forward with a degree of intention and yet still allow us to be free moral agents, who are able to participate or not participate according to our willingness to choose His grace. Just as He is a strategic thinker, we as church leaders are called to be strategic thinkers.
Here are a few ways you can begin to implement an overall strategy and plan in your church:
1. Seek God for His vision.
The first step in any planning process is to seek God for His plans. On a regular basis, come before Him and pray, “What is Your heart? What is Your passion and purpose right now? How can we more effectively align our church with what matters to You?”
Once or twice a year, gather with your team for a day or overnight retreat. Spend time in worship and prayer, and seek the Lord, praying, “We are not here to build a church or fulfill our own plans. We want to fulfill Your vision. We invite You to download more of Your vision to us.” You can come away from these times with a much greater clarity of God’s purpose and plans for you.
2. Keep the vision in front of the people.
Consistently give your people a fresh sense of God’s purpose for the church. Consider the following questions:
- Why are you gathering together like this?
- Why do you worship?
- Why do you spend time in the Word and reach out to the poor?
- Why do you share your faith with your friends?
Weave your vision into different teachings, and encourage other members of your team to present it as well.
Vision gives pain a purpose. You’re asking people to sacrifice and calling them to a lifestyle and commitment that will cause them to step outside their comfort zones. You’re calling them to a high level of service, and to reach that level of service, they need a purpose that will help make sense of their pain and sacrifice.
3. Make sure your values and priorities match your vision.
How you’re allocating your time, energy and money need to be in line with where you want to lead the church.
Many churches say, “Our job is to make disciples,” but their priorities don’t align with that vision. How much of their time, energy and money is actually going toward that end? Ultimately, you have to step back and say, “If our job is to make disciples, then we should be putting the majority of our time, energy and money into reaching people.” Start evaluating in this manner and change your church’s “ecosystem” to match the vision you know God has for you.
4. Build programs and ministries that coincide with the vision.
Start pointing your time, energy and various ministries toward what God has told you to do. Work with your leaders in this process, because you depend on them to disseminate the priorities and programs that will move your church forward.
It is important that all members of your leadership team own the vision and how God is moving in your church. This allows them to really represent you as they go into the congregation and lead various ministries. As these things occur, the people will move into a thriving experience of Kingdom community that will bring transformation to your church and the city around you.