Strategic planning for the church involves navigating a narrow path between the business-based discipline of strategic planning and the absolute primacy of God’s will for our lives as a church and as individuals. Strategic planning, after all, originated in warfare, then was adopted by major industrial corporations, before making its way to the church. No doubt many well-intending Christian business executives have transferred their corporate skills for the benefits of many churches, but this is one area where the Christian must be extra-careful.
Strategic planning for the church is probably most useful when it deals with things: buildings, money, and equipment. It is important to plan for the long-range physical needs of the church. But traditional strategic planning for the church is most questionable when it involves people and their personal relationship with God. These are just a few of the reasons why we humbly believe Dynamic Strategic Planning is a better fit and a better process for churches.
There is nothing inherently unChristian about traditional strategic planning! Like many other tools and processes, it is morally neutral – it all depends on how you use it. But typically strategic planning for the church is done by a Strategic Planning Committee, a group usually dominated by businessmen, and does not adequately involve large numbers of church members.
Well, the fact is (and we know because we’ve done it), if you announce that you’re having an open meeting to get input from church members on strategic planning, you are not going to get a great turn-out. You run smack into the problem that the very term “strategic planning” turns a lot of people off. It sounds a lot like work. Business work.
Suppose we talk instead about what we are trying to accomplish as a church, our visions for the future, and the critical issues we need to deal with. That might get a little better response. That is the starting point of Dynamic Strategic Planning – but honestly we don’t think that term is going to be any more appealing than just plain Strategic Planning.
The missing element in all this, and the main point of life as a Christian, is that it’s not about what we want. It’s about what God wants. And the only way to get in touch with what God wants is to pray about it and seek His wisdom in scripture. In our early consulting days, we did strategic planning for a number of churches, and looking back, we regret that we did not adequately include the need for passionate, high-participation, humble, prayerful seeking of God’s will for each church in its time and place. And that will might involve sacrificial obedience, caring for the poor, or taking risks. It may or may not involve a new sanctuary or a new fellowship building with a basketball court.
So what’s a church to do? We encourage you to get a copy of our Dynamic Strategic Planning book, read it over, and consider how it might work for your church more effectively than other strategic planning processes. But most of all, realize that you can’t plan what God is going to do next, that following His will on a daily basis is the best path to take, and that as far as the people and programs of the church are concerned, you are better off adapting to what He reveals to your church people working in dynamic action teams. Click here to learn more.