Strategic Plan

The Importance of Planning
from "New Church Strategic Planning Process"

See also
Strategic Planning for Pastoral Staff
(Handout and Study Notes)
Implementing Change in Your Local Church from the Top Down
Tom Pennington
Executive Pastor
Grace Community Church

Someone has so aptly said, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Unfortunately, however, many feel that planning in the church is "unspiritual." They say that we should simply be sensitive to the Holy Spirit’s leading and follow Him. Certainly we should maintain an intimate walk with the Spirit and follow His direction at every turn. This does not, however, negate the need for planning.

The Bible teaches planning implicitly and explicitly. In studying creation, it is obvious that Creator God worked with a master plan (God ordains all things that come to pass...).  Each element needed at one stage of creation was provided in the previous stage. The Father understood from the beginning to the end. The Bible tells us that He knew that creation would call for His Son’s death to deal with the issue of sin (John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:18-20; Revelation 13:38b).

In Luke 14:25-35, Jesus strongly communicated the demands of discipleship and by His example implicitly taught the value of planning. He said that a disciple’s love for his family should be seen as "hate" when compared to his or her love for Him. He also stated that if a person were not willing to bear his or her own cross (an instrument of death to self), and come after Him, he or she could not be his disciple. Why did Jesus make the demands of discipleship so tough? Look at His words, "Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish’" (Luke 14:28-30, NIV). Jesus, the architect of the church, has counted the cost and He knows what it will cost to complete the project—that is why the demands are so tough. Jesus Christ then said, "Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Will he not first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace" (Luke 14:31-32, NIV). King Jesus knows the enemy’s strength, tactics and battle plan. Jesus has sat down and counted the cost—clearly a planning process—and understands what kind of soldiers it will take to win the warfare. Therefore he demands total allegiance from his disciples. G. Campbell Morgan wrote in The Parables and Metaphors of Our Lord

He never told men to count the cost. They were to come at all cost, at the cost of earthly love, and the cost of renouncing everything.

What then did He mean? That He had to count the cost and that was why His terms were severe, in the interest of what He was doing…They were to come at all cost. Yet He showed the necessity of His counting the cost (p. 208).

The Bible teaches explicitly the principles of planning. Look at the appendix to this unit from the Proverbs.

Why does the new church exist? What is its purpose as a congregation? One clear aspect of every church’s purpose is to make disciples (Matt. 28:18-20). If the church planter and his leaders take seriously this biblical purpose, they will sit down first and count the cost or consider how to build the tower (the new church) and how to attack the enemy (Satan). This will involve a prayerful and careful planning process. It should be prayerful in that the leaders should spend quality and quantity time with God so that He can reveal to them where He is already at work. Once that is revealed, a planning process can be put in place to assist the church in joining God on mission. It should also be careful taking into consideration all of the proper components of good planning.