We define strategic planning as a prayerfully discerned, Spirit-guided process of preparation, development, implementation, and evaluation of the necessary steps involved for missionary endeavors. And while I plan to unpack our definition in my next post, for now I want to draw your attention to two critical aspects of developing strategy.
Whenever we consider the development of strategy, we must recognize that such an act involves future orientation and a plan for process. While strategy development involves a healthy understanding of the past and present, it moves us beyond history to future actions and results.
Strategy involves the future. Although a team learns from the past and recognizes what it is in the present (e.g., its talents, gifts, passions, resources), strategy belongs to the future. Strategy is about how to accomplish something desired. If it is the Lord’s will that tomorrow arrive (James 4:13–16), the team will plan to do this or that.
Strategy includes an attempt to discern what the Lord would desire accomplished among a particular people, population segment, village, tribe, or city. The focus of strategy is not on the present realities but rather on future possibilities. Strategy allows the team to look down the corridor of time, asking, “Lord willing, what will become of these people?” Strategy forces the team to think in terms of the practical outworking of the power of the gospel to transform an individual, family, tribe, or society. Strategy helps the team members discern where to go in their efforts.
Plan for Process
Strategy involves making plans. The future orientation component of strategy is a dream or a vision—but not the process of getting to the vision. Strategy therefore includes not only prayerfully discerning future realities but also developing a plan of action to reach them. Strategy assists in putting feet on future desire. It helps move a team from where it is to where it believes the Lord would have it go.
The plan to reach a vision involves a process. A strategy is typically not a single-step event that results in the fulfillment of the vision. Strategy involves a process of major steps as the team climbs the stairs to reach the desired end. And along the climb each major step taken will consist of several smaller, minor—yet important—steps along the journey. While this journey may not be a linear one (e.g., many times several steps will happen simultaneously), the outworking of a strategy involves a procession, and movement from point A to point B, and so on, until the team reaches the vision on the horizon.
Something to Consider
What do you sense the Lord is leading you, your church, or organization to do in relation to the multiplication of disciples, leaders, and churches in the next year?
Can you describe the process to accomplish this vision?