In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is heaven.
A church can benefit from the planning process because this systematic continuing process allows it to:
- Establish goals, objectives, priorities, and strategies to be completed within a specific time periods. Planning will enable the church to assess accomplishment of the goals that are set and will help motivate staff and members to work together to achieve shared goals.
- Achieve greater staff and member commitment and teamwork aimed at meeting challenges and solving problems presented by changing conditions.
- Muster its resources to meet these changes through anticipation and preparation.
Pastors cannot control the future, but they should attempt to identify and isolate present actions and forecast how results can be expected to influence the future. The primary purpose of planning, then, is to ensure that current programs be used to increase the chances of achieving future objectives and goal; that is, to increase the chances of making better decisions today that affect tomorrow's performance.
Unless planning leads to improved performance, it is worthless. Thus, to have a church or ministry that looks forward to the future, tries to stay alive and prosper in a changing environment, there must be active, vigorous, continuous, and creative planning. Otherwise, a church will only react to its environment.
Often, when pastors and churches plan poorly, they must constantly devote their energies to solving problems that would not have existed, or at least would be much less serious, with planning. They spend their time fighting fires rather than practising fire prevention.
Long term planning can become a means of renewal in the life of a congregation if the following points are remembered:
- A unified purpose can be achieved only when all segments of the life of the church see themselves as part of a larger whole with a single goal;
- Isolated individual decisions and commitments often influence future plans, even when they are not intended to do so;
- When careful planning is lacking, groups in the church often become competitive and duplicate one another's work.
- Without coordinated planning, groups in the church may come to feel they are ends in themselves and lose their sense of perspective in relation to the church.
Church and Ministry Strategic Planning, by R. Henry Miglore, Ph.D., Robert E. Stevens, Ph.D., and David Loudon, Ph.D., pp 7-8.