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The Thrills and Risks of New Plans

September 26th 2007 No comments yet  

I mentioned in an earlier blog that I am still noticing new things. That makes sense since I am still somewhat of a new guy on the block. So my eye has definitely been drawn to the upcoming Elder and Staff Planning Retreat this weekend.

Basically it’s another new thing””for me as a new guy at this church, as well as for our elders and staff together. We’ve not done this together before here, so it’s new for all of us. If you push us into the quieter corner where we can admit our inner thoughts, it therefore carries a mixed bag of emotions and hopes. Remember, it’s new.

If you’ve never been involved in strategic planning, strategic planning is the clarification of the journey that a group of people will take to reach their goal. Simply put, the planning process clarifies your final vision (what you hope to create in the end), the method (how you plan to arrive at the end), and the people and resources needed to arrive at your destination. It is analogous to vacation planning””you plan ahead where you choose to go, how you choose to get there, and who is going to ride together in the car (and, in some families, who carries the money).

For a guy like me, it’s a fascinating process. We will hopefully conclude with a clearer picture of how Stonebriar will accomplish our mission (as some might say, “How cool is that?”). Yet whenever the process is new to a group, it is also filled with a strange mixture of anticipations.

My own personal hope is that we experience God showing up, in whatever way He chooses. If that happens, I’ll be walking on clouds. To be honest, I’m extremely excited about the potential of our two days. Yet I’m also wondering, are we ready for such a process? Do we have the relationships that are strong enough to endure any initial disagreements about our priorities? Are we living with a deep discernment to hear from God as a group? Is our vision clear enough to create exciting steps towards the mark? Will we press towards the completion of our strategy? Of course, since the church is the hope of the world””as the depository of Christ’s life””then it’s crucial that we answer these questions with a resounding yes. Nothing less than the momentum of the church is at stake.

So I hope we end up with a plan for Stonebriar that moves us into a new season of active volunteerism, relevant ministries, and effectiveness in reaching the community. We have many strong foundations upon which we can stand””but we also have many ways to improve. Foundations are comfortable; improvements can be awkward (or even threatening to some people). Remember that the very word, improvement, implies something new. But this “new thing” is worth it.

Pray for us, and we can converse about the results next week through this blog.

Published by: Paul Utnage


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