“Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans,” is a familiar quote from John Lennon.
This time of year many churches are busy making plans. Many are working on plans for the holiday season, if they are not already done, and some churches are in full gear planning for next year and going through an extensive budgeting process. All this planning, the committee and board meetings, spreadsheet manipulating, budget balancing, and calendar planning takes up an enormous amount of time.
Talk to any pastor and ministry leader and I am sure they will share with you that all this planning drains their energy before they even get to do the work in ministry they are planning and budgeting for. A lot of this planning also becomes the source of tension, conflict, and frustration for leaders and members alike.
Meanwhile, life is happening all around our churches and in the communities we say we want to reach. While we sit in committee and board meetings pastors and church leaders are missing out on the opportunities to be out in the community they are budgeting and planning on serving.
We’ve become so obsessed in many local churches today with balancing budgets and filling in the event calendar that we don’t realize how over programmed and planned we have become in our churches. We’re so focused on doing church work, we miss out on being the church in our community. We’ve tricked ourselves into believing good stewardship means balancing the budget rather than every member serving and using their God given gifts to advance the movement and spread the Gospel.
To make things go a little more efficiently I am recommending church leadership groups and pastors consider this simple method to use when it comes to calendar and budget planning.
Ask these questions:
What do we need to start doing?
What do we need to stop doing?
What do we need to keep doing?
This is a simple starting point for planning that can help steam line the process and enable us to spend more time focused on being the church, rather than just doing what we’ve always done. If you have a business or organization development background this might sound familiar. I am not saying this makes challenging situations easier, but I am suggesting using a formula that allows you to focus on needs in ministry and community over being obsessed with a process or program.
In our local churches today we need to find strategies to help us return to the more movement focused aspects of mission and ministry. We’ve become too focused on maintaining programs and creating busyness in our churches over making disciples.
Is your church obsessed with planning this time of year?
As a pastor, leader, or member have you found ways to overcome this?