Strategic thinking is defined by Aubrey Malphurs as “The process of thinking and acting. It involves thinking through and then doing the church’s ministry.” Luke 14:28 (HCSB) says, “For which of you, wanting to build a tower, doesn’t first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it?” Prayerful planning is necessary to make sure that all of our activities are God-initiated. I Chronicles 12:32 says, “And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.” Developing a plan of next steps can be a tremendous blessing to you, your team and your church.
In Exod. 18:17-18 Moses’ father-in-law said, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.” Jethro then proceeded to give Moses a very thorough plan and strategy on how to judge the people. Strategy enables you to build systems that will aid you in sustaining your ministries, and you will only expand to the capacity and effectiveness of your systems. We are good at seeing the problem, but we often struggle with fixing it.
Movement systems are reproducible and interconnected processes by which the organization actualizes its values and achieves its mission. In developing strategies and systems, you must follow a healthy process and pathway of prayer, assessment, alignment with core values, biblical mission and vision for where God has placed you. Out of this arises a strategy where every step, every decision and every plan are developed in prayer. This pathway can start anew and fresh with an individual person, your staff, a ministry team and the entire church.
There is help for you in developing strategies at HealthyChurchSolutions.org with tracks in areas such as “Refocus & Re-energize” which enables leaders to revisit leadership and personal development tools. “Retool” gives insight and instruction to your systems, ministry teams and ministry tracks. “Revitalize” is a helpful track for an overall process to bring spiritual health to your church or ministry. These will help your focus on moving from your present reality to God’s preferred future as you re-evaluate and assess. You might not need a total remake but just to revisit different areas that need attention.
There are three videos focusing on strategy driven by your values (your why), directed by God’s mission (your what), focused on vision (your where) and accomplished through your strategy (your how). Even though many have abandoned strategic thinking, it would be worth your time to consider the value of long-term planning that focuses on short-term priorities. It is hard work, but it is time well invested. In the words of Will Mancini, “To dream and then build, to imagine and then initiate, to think and then renovate — that is what you were created to do.”
• First, you must be able to see the preferred future. That is why you must do the hard work of developing a clear vision. You must be able to clearly communicate your mission and vision of where you are going, what you will be doing and how you will get there. This must be done with confidence, moving forward, focused on faith. Clearly articulating and casting the vision your church is focused on not just seating capacity but on sending capacity. Making sure that church is more than somewhere people attend once or twice a week.
• Second, understand that now is the time to seize the opportunity to spread the gospel and speak truth into a culture that is quite often unwilling to receive His truth. Outrage is not a strategy, and you must be ready to give an answer to anyone at any time. These times call for the most creative evangelism and shrewd apologetics the church has seen since the first century. If you are ready, go for it; but if you are not ready, get ready because there are no excuses, only obedience and disobedience. Study the soil where God has placed you and understand the nuances of the culture for such a time as this.
Sharing the love of Christ at this moment in time, no matter how wicked the times may become, is why your church exists, and living on His mission is what He has called you to. Barry Whitworth has put together an excellent tool for studying the soil entitled How to Exegete Your Community! Its purpose is to follow Paul’s example in I Cor. 9:19-23. He writes, “When exegeting a community, you are observing and conversing with the people in their cultural context. Your goal is to form an opinion to whether there is an evangelical presence that will foster spiritual transformation in that community.”
Whitworth focuses on four areas: social, economic, physical and spiritual climate. You are challenged to observe with your eyes (what do you see?), to listen to their conversations (what do you hear?) and you begin to implement and plan your strategy (what should you do?). If you would like a copy of this tool, please let us know by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com and we would be happy to send you a copy.
This is not the time to run from the challenge of our times but rather to be looking for ways to better represent Christ. It is not the time to escape the culture but instead engage it. A missional people and a missional church do not get the luxury of picking their day or their place. You don’t always get to choose your battles or get to determine your circumstances, but you can choose to remain faithful. You must study the times and respond as Christ would have you to respond. He has placed you where you are “for such a time as this.”