Dear church, be proactively intentional for Christ’s sake — forethought always wins

Dear church, be intentional for Christ’s sake. There’s too much at stake to be caught off guard and surprised — or worse — to move along with dead weight and ineffectiveness.

As we make plans for 2011, we will be setting up a plan that will change because we can’t predict the future. 2010 held some surprises for us — and 2011 won’t be any different.  God is about the only One not surprised.  Yet, if we don’t account for the limited time/people/communication/energy/financial resources, it’s a sure way to set one’s self up for failure.

One smart way to lay out plans for a new year is to role play the “down times”. Doesn’t sound fun, does it?  Sure, it might not sound like a great staff meeting — and it certainly should be the basis of every or even the majority of decisions, however it does bring about proactivity instead of a more reactive approach.  Allow me to explore this concept…

Let’s face it — there will be times momentum is on your side, and times it’s certainly not. When momentum drops, we have a tendency to be reactive.  Being reactive it’s bad, but being proactive is even better.  When hard times hit (and they will), it creates a new opportunity.  Usually an opportunity to cut back, to streamline, or to revisit why we do what we do.  It’s a no brainer these opportunities bring about a forced change.

The greater question is why did we wait until hard times to take the opportunity to change? The answer to that question is the key to being more efficient and effective when times are, shall we say, easier.

For example, look at some interesting insights from Sam Chand on Church Trends.  (Head over to Tony Morgan’s site to see some more of Sam’s thoughts.)

Staffing — Churches are reducing paid staff and increasing unpaid staff. Many if not most churches became overstaffed in better financial times. Churches are redefining “volunteerism” as to how they are “recruited” with intentionality and the very caliber of the recruit is vetted carefully along with fulfilling assignments—usually short-term.

Development vs. Training — Training is about a task whereas development is about a person. Churches are realizing they have highly trained and poorly developed leaders with built in low ceiling and capacity.

Pastor’s Family Time — Boomers didn’t pay as much attention to their families as the younger pastors are thus skewing the expectations of church boards who still remain predominantly boomers.

Graying of America — The number of people older than 65 in the U.S. will continue to increase creating a larger gulf in how church is processed.

via Church Trends with Sam Chand | TonyMorganLive.com.

Why do we wait until the present to make the tough decisions? Why not “role play” those hard times in advance in order to discover how we might play that “low momentum” period of time?  This means taking valuable time to talk about and act on those “low mo” times.  Maybe even chart out the priorities in the organization as they exist today.  Please understand this shouldn’t be the

Ask the question, if we had to cut back 1/3 of what we do…what would we do?  What about 1/2 of what we do?

Two things would happen.  First, the church might identify “fat” or inefficiencies in how it currently operated towards the mission God set out for it.  Secondly, it would have the forethought to be a little more proactive for hard times (who’s on payroll, why, what areas to cut first, how to streamline).  According to Sam, churches are being more intentional.

There’s more at stake in the local church’s mission than in most other organizations. So let’s be intentional for Christ’s sake. The church’s sole purpose is a soul purpose.  So let’s trim our waist line.  Let’s be careful to developing people — not just train training them.  Let’s figure out how the upcoming generation of leaders tick — to give them a proactive chance at one of those fluid baton handoffs.  And let’s teach them to have forethought — both for when times seem effortless and times when it takes all the effort.

“In life, as in chess, forethought wins.”  Charles Buxton

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