The Importance of Planning
By Robert C. Foreman
Good Planning is Good Stewardship
“Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he has enough money to complete it? For if he lays the foundation and is not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule him, saying, “This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.” Luke 14:28-30.
Good planning is good stewardship. Success in any endeavor requires careful preparation and planning. Without proper planning and preparation, failure is almost guaranteed.
Anyone who has ever undertaken a complex task already has learned the importance of careful planning. Churches need to plan for their ministries and for the facility needs which will serve these ministries.
In sports we see many examples of the need to plan. Often this involves a “game plan.” A game plan is simply a series of steps which the team must follow in order to be able to accomplish its goal of winning the game. In fact, most winning teams are able to win, because they plan to win. Losing teams are often the team that had no game plan, or a poor plan at best. Failing to plan to win is the same as planning to lose. Or put another way, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
Good planning conserves resources, prevents wasted effort, and saves time and money. Good planning prevents small problems from becoming big problems.
FAILING TO PLAN
It becomes obvious to everyone when a church has failed to plan ahead. Deteriorating buildings and grounds, dirty and worn carpet, peeling paint and inadequate space are all clear signs of poor planning and poor stewardship. A church which has seriously outgrown its available space, has failed to plan for growth.
Failure to make adequate plans has hindered its ability to carry out its mission. It has failed to take steps to deal with the problem before it became serious. Not anticipating and preparing for growth may be due to lack of faith, or it may be due to lack of leadership. In any case, it may be a sign of deeper problems.
GOD WILL PROVIDE
But what about those that would say “If God wants us to grow, he will provide the means?” Recently I saw a TV news story about a drought stricken community in Texas. The news story started out by showing people earnestly praying for rain. It hadn’t rained in months. Crops were dieing and the community reservoir was nearly dry. The story then showed volunteers digging a trench and installing pipe for a new water main to bring water in from a nearby community which had water available. The new line would solve only part of the problem – domestic water, but it did not help the water shortage for the farmers who were losing their harvest. The whole town pitched in to help. People came together to help solve at least the part of their problem they could do something about. God wants us to put feet to our prayers. “Faith by itself, if not accompanied by action, is dead.” James 2:17. God expects us to take action on the things that we can do something about and to depend on him to handle the rest. Failing to do our part may come from not believing that God will do His part.
Failing to plan for what God will do may be due to lack of faith in what God can do. We don’t think it will happen, so we see no need to plan for it. If we fail to look up to see the “fields which are white unto harvest,” we may also be missing the potential for growth. We may be hindering the growth by failing to plan for the facilities which would accommodate the growth. Once we see the growth actually taking place, it is foolish not to do something about it.
BUILD IT AND THEY WILL COME?
How untrue! Buildings are no guarantee that growth will take place. Never build because you think it will cause growth. Instead when you see the potential for growth or growth already happening, start planning for what you are going to do. Planning is a response to growth so that you can manage and accommodate it.
DON’T BUILD IT AND THEY MAY LEAVE
Many churches have experienced what can happen when inadequate facilities contribute to loss of key families who leave to go elsewhere once they see no effort underway to remedy the problem. Church members will usually endure a “great hardship,” crowded conditions, limited parking, etc., as long as they can see progress toward a solution. People will stay put if they see an eventual end to the crowded conditions.
Good planning is being faithful. When churches plan for growth, they are planning for what God is going to do. There can be no harvest without first plowing the soil, and planting the crop. The farmer who prepares the ground and plants his crop will soon see the direct result of his preparations. As a church, we must take action to plan and prepare for what God is going to do.
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