Generally speaking most people like to know where they’re going and how long it’s going to take to get there.
A lot of parents have had the experience of taking the kids on an adventure trip or holiday. The vehicle is packed, the kids are on board, the ignition is fired and we’re off. Ten minutes into the journey and they’re asking, “Are we there yet?” Mum pipes up, “No!” Ten minutes later the kids are yelling, “Are we there yet?” They are excited about where they are supposed to be going and want to get there immediately. They can’t wait. They have no idea about the distance they have to travel and what is involved in getting there. Adults are no different to kids in this respect: if we’re going somewhere we want to know where, how long it’s going to take, and how we will know when we’ve arrived at our destination.
People have the same kind of expectation when it comes to growing the congregation. It’s one thing having a vision, but it’s hardly worth having if the leadership don’t know . . .
Even if we know the ‘how’s’ and the ‘what’s’, leaders must inspire the people about the journey, give clear instructions about the various stages of the journey, and when they can expect to arrive. How can you do all of this effectively? Planning! The Elohim of heaven, He makes plans – here are some examples:
Yahweh purposed to flood the earth to punish humanity’s wickedness and rebellion–“I will wipe mankind, whom I have created, off from the face of the earth . . .so make yourself an ark of gofer wood” In reading the account in Genesis 6 - 8 we see that Yahweh made extensive plans and passed them on, in great detail, to Noah. Because Noah was clear about the plans he was able to carry them out to the letter, and thereby save a remnant of human and animal life.
Yahweh had a long-term vision for a people and so He made promises to Abraham:
“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you;
I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Gen 12:2-3 NIV).
“I will give you and your offspring forever all the land that you see. I will make your offspring like the dust of the earth” (Gen 13:15-16 HCSB). With these promises Yahweh again laid out plans that resulted in their fulfilment, even though in this case it took hundreds of years.
Yahweh had a vision of a worshipping community belonging to Him and among whom He would dwell. Part of that vision was the setting up of a tabernacle. He laid plans to see that vision become a reality and He carefully passed those plans on to Moses saying,
“Have them [the Israelites] make a sanctuary for me, and I will dwell among them. Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you”. (Exodus 25:8-9 NIV)
The Israelites went on to build the Tabernacles step by step, and on completion the glory of the presence of Yahweh filled the Most Holy Place.
So…Yahweh made plans. He expects His servants to do the same when it comes to achieving the vision that He has given for the good of His people.
Developing a strategic plan to accomplish the vision is essential. No amount of passion and motivation towards the vision will substitute for rigorous planning for each stage of the vision. No route planning will ultimately mean getting lost along the way or never arriving.
You already have a vision - a picture of the future, the place you want to be. The next step is planning. Strategic planning requires you to map out, in detail, each phase of the journey to arrive at the completion of the vision. This will essentially be your ‘road map’.
How to do this
As parents, we wouldn’t embark on a journey to somewhere foreign with our children without first discovering how to get there. In the same way, give careful and meticulous thought to plotting the road map to achieve the vision that Yahweh has given you for His flock under your care.
Always plan ahead. It wasn't raining when Noah built the ark.
RICHARD CUSHING, NOVELIST
To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs.
RALPH WALDO EMERSON
Goals are SMART...Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.
ALAN LAKEIN, WRITER
For I know the plans I have for you, says [Yahweh]. They are plans for good and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope”. (THE LIVING BIBLE)
Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations: you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with dwellings.
Where there is no vision, the people perish.
A ‘high powered’ advisor once said, “Whatever failures I have known, whatever errors I have committed, whatever follies I have witnessed in private and public life have been the consequence of action without thought.”1
Dear father, when it comes to Your kingdom, let all my actions be the result of fellowship with You, prayerful meditation and a vision You’ve inspired. Help me (and team) by Your Spirit to devise plans that will bring about the fulfilment of Your purpose for this fellowship; give us clarity of thought regarding the various stages and steps in that process. Give us wisdom to pass on those plans so that our people will not only know what they must do but be excited and motivated about making the journey.
1 Quote by Bernard Baruch, stock broker, advisor to Presidents Woodrow Wilson, Harry S. Truman, (1870-1965)