When God gives us a vision for a new Congregation, what do we do next? Getting started can be hard! There are, of course, lots of ways we could go about it, but here’s one way, taken from an excellent book by Will Mancini (called ‘God Dreams’):
1. Start by picturing the long-term vision. Maybe God spoke it to you in a prayer time? Maybe it is a burning desire in your heart? Both can be Spirit-inspired. This long-term vision is like the ‘mountain top’ which you eventually want to get to. For many who are reading this particular blog post, this vision is likely to include growing a Congregation of 40-50 people, over 6 years, with 30 of that number being new disciples!
2. Break it down into achievable steps. What 4 things will you need to have in place, within the next 3 years, in order to be on track to achieve your 6 year vision? These might include: i) having a large number of connections with local people; ii)having a good understanding of how to communicate the good news to them (so that it actually feels like good news to them!); iii) having an accessible and affordable public meeting space; and iv) having an effective system for developing new disciples. Breaking the overall vision down into these smaller, practical aims makes progress towards that vision much more likely.
3. Do this again, on a smaller time-scale. 3 year aims take time (3 years, usually!), but you can work out what your year 1 would look like if you were on track to achieve those 3 year aims. For example, in terms of Congregations, this could be that more local people would know who you are, what you are doing, and are quite happy about it (by year 1)! Such ‘milestones’ assess your actual progress towards the 3 year aims, which can then either encourage you to keep going as you are, or inspire you to change what you are doing.
4. Set some immediate action points. These are things which can be achieved within 90 days (i.e. every 3 months), and then either renewed or changed every 90 days, in order to ensure ‘arrival’ at the 1 year goal. For example, things like starting a weekly prayer meeting, arranging a monthly coaching session, or running a Karaoke/Quiz/Story-telling/Bingo evening in the local pub are ‘quick wins’, which take very little time to organise, but the more of these that happen, the more progress is made. Reaching our mountain-tops will require us to take lots and lots of very small steps.
None of this, of course, guarantees any visible ‘success’, and it certainly doesn’t preclude the vital importance of faith and prayer in all that you do. However, what is does do is to provide a kind of ‘map’ which helps monitor ongoing progress towards the overall vision. In case it helps, I have completed below what a finished ‘Strategic Planning Sheet’ could look like, for a Joshua Centre Congregation.
Would having something like this on your wall help you? Could it serve you as a reminder of where you are headed, and what needs to be done next? At the very least, it might inform your prayers. At best, it might help you to stay motivated and on track. Why not give it a go?
By Dan Rogers