Sir Winston Churchill said, “It is a mistake to look too far ahead. Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at time.” There must be some wisdom there we can apply to the subject of planning and goal setting. Most churches make plans and set goals, especially as they approach a new year. But, it doesn’t take long to discover that a plan is no guarantee of success. Many unforeseen factors can come into play that sabotage even the best of plans. Things can change quickly in a church. Attendance shooting up or down can render our plans obsolete. One person leaving or joining can change everything. Having enough money, workers, morale, and energy all affect the ability to carry out goals/plans.
I’m not against planning, but I am cautious about putting too much faith and time into long-term planning. It’s best to plan with a pencil and not a pen, to write in the dirt, instead of concrete.
The key to being a successful pastor is to do a few things well, over and over and over again. Maybe our time would be better spent on prioritizing instead of long-term strategizing. What should a pastor’s priorities be? This isn’t a trick question and the answer doesn’t have to be complicated, but you have to answer it for yourself…no one can answer it for you. If you had to choose the top four things a pastor (or a church) should do, what would they be? Answer that question and then do those things. Do them the first year and the second year, all the way to the tenth year…and then do them some more. Do them if your church grows. Do them if your church plateaus. Do them if your church doesn’t grow. If you must have a long-term plan let it be: do the few, again and again.
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