I have a lot of conversations with churches who are planning. Some are planning specific events while others are putting together a 2-year ministry plan or a 5-year long range plan. All of that is exciting. But I find that there are some good questions that would serve all of these planning teams well. Let me share them with you.
1) What is the point of this thing we are planning? Are we doing something to just do something or is this part of our larger mission and vision? Where does this fit into the bigger picture? Can this be tied to something we learned in our LifePlan or other discernment process or are we just doing something we have always done? These types of questions matter because we want to be good stewards of the people and resources God has given us. If we are doing something “just because” or because we always have done it, we run the risk of missing an opportunity to do something that actually helps us live out the reason God has our church where He has it. And we run the risk of keeping busy people busier with stuff that pulls them away from living out the Great Commission.
2) What if this works? This is one of my favorite questions, and one we fail to ask. But what if what we are doing works? What if people want to know more about Jesus as a result of what we do? What if somebody becomes a Christ follower? Have we thought through what we would do next? Because we need to.
3) How will we evaluate what happened? How will we learn and sharpen and get better? How will we know if it “worked” or not? If we run an outreach event and only Christ follower’s show up (even if they are from a different church) we need to take a look at what we have and have not done and make adjustments. Simply running an event is not enough. Same with longer terms ministry plans. How will we evaluate whether we are on the right track or not? When will we slow down and put everything on the table and ask God what He wants of us? Those rhythms need to be built in to any longer range plan.
4) How will we celebrate? We aren’t always good at this in the church. But sometimes it is worth simply celebrating that we pulled something off. It always good to celebrate when we see part of a plan competed. And we must celebrate what God is doing in and through the lives of people. It would do us well to think through what we want to celebrate and where those celebrations would be appropriate.
5) How will we say thanks? How will we thank the people who gave or served or showed up? That matters. And (similar to point 4) how will we honor and thank God for helping us every step of the way? That matters a lot.
So there you are. Five questions that will hopefully help you as you listen for God’s voice and plan your obedient response to what He says. And if you have good stories about what God is doing as you pray and plan and ask good questions and then execute the plans, let me know. I love a good story.