The Power of the Plan

Planning notes (circa 1981) uncovered in my office 

It’s hard to believe. I have just over nine weeks remaining in my plus 38-year tenure as lead pastor of Ginghamsburg Church. Over the past few days I have been embroiled in the thankless chore of cleaning out the room that has served as my office since 1994 when we moved into our current main building. I am sorting through the 23 years’ worth of books and memorabilia that I have accumulated since moving in, along with many items that date all the way back to 1979 and the beginning of my ministry here. Talk about memories! And, talk about an opportunity for reflection…

Emptying my office has served to remind me of a few things. First, God has truly brought about a miracle in this place! A two-room country church of 90 folks has multiplied into a missional movement of thousands. But, when well-meaning sisters and brothers commend me over the weeks ahead for the accomplishment of a great work, I will have to put a hand up and confess, “Hey, it wasn’t me! I am just the donkey that Jesus rode in on.” In a sense though, what Ginghamsburg has become hasn’t surprised me in the least. I saw it 38 years ago when I spent a day alone in the field behind that little country chapel telling God I wouldn’t leave until God gave me a vision for what was to lie ahead. And, God did. Otherwise, I never would have made it through those early days when the negative resisters and naysayers called in my district superintendent trying to get rid of me. “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18, KJV).

While digging through the papers in my office cabinet, I also found evidence that I recognized from the early days on that a vision is simply a wish unless you put together a strategy for accomplishing it. A  yellow, legal pad (circa 1981) surfaced, listing the early start of my strategy for bringing about God’s vision for Ginghamsburg. The fledgling beginnings were there for some of the core competencies the church would need to thrive and grow, like small group ministry. As Andy Stanley has noted, life change happens in circles, not rows. Other strategies that were being defined and refined included:

  • Develop visionary leaders and a mission-focused board
  • Identify the target demographic we are striving to reach
  • Build a marketing strategy
  • Assign prayer coverage
  • Develop outreach ministry
  • Build systems of care

…and others. No vision equals a dead church; no strategy equals a wish list.

At the age of 65, my God vision now is to coach new generations of leaders, empowering and equipping them to refine the vision, develop the plan for the plan and execute the strategy. I still don’t have time to play church, and neither do the generations coming up behind me. That’s why I am starting a new LLC to be called Passionate Churches, offering its first go-round of coaching this August at a training opportunity called BASECAMP.

If you are a pastor who is prepared to be a leader of leaders, who is serious about Kingdom growth despite all obstacles and who is ready to scale to the next elevation in your anointing, I invite you to join me on August 5 to 9 for BASECAMP. Check online for full details.

You do not grow a church without having a well thought-out, prayed-over-and-through strategy that is implemented and followed. Want to move forward? Stop wishing. Start planning.

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I’m interested. God bless you

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