At times, what a church needs is not so much a multi-color map as it does a compass. A vision of the future state of the church provides both the energy and a direction in which the church should move and to begin that move.
Church leadership can nurture healthy churches by serving as guides in charting the church’s direction when they:
- Constantly ask/answer the question, “Where are we going as a church?”
- Remind the church it needs a sense of direction in order to function productively. (If you don’t know where you are going, it doesn’t matter which direction you take.)
- Lead and motivate with a challenge instead of a promise of comfort and safety.
- Steer the congregation from the diversion of merely duplicating the church across town.
- Help keep the church’s direction aligned with its purposes.
How does the church intend to get where it wants to go based on the Holy Spirit’s leadership? The person or group with a plan, no matter how simple, will be healthier and more productive than those who have no plans.
Planning is the process by which the guiding members of a church envision its future and develop the necessary procedures and operations to achieve that future.
Planning begins by looking ahead at what can be in light of changing trends.
Planning must interpret a church more as an organism than an organization.
Planning, however, does more than plan for the future; it helps a church create its future.
This kind of planning is an attempt to determine the future of the church under the leadership of the Holy Spirit.
So then, planning is a simple, yet thorough, effort that identifies the church’s strengths and builds on those strengths instead of spending time, energy, and money on possible weaknesses of the past.
Envisioning is more than an attempt to anticipate the future and prepare accordingly. Rather, envisioning involves a conviction that aspects of the future can be influenced and changed by what we do now.
If you don’t create your own future, someone else will create it for you.