Planning to fail

Planning to fail?

My wife is a Christmas planning ninja; no sooner has summer drawn to a close, she gets the Christmas card list out and begins to calculate who should receive a card from the ‘Mattholies’ this year, adding those who sent for the first time and removing those we have not heard of for two years (we work on a one year grace period to ensure the forgetful are not excluded!). She has lists of present ideas, potential present ideas and meal planners. I’ve come to somewhat rely on her planning abilities. You see I am not a natural planner; I love to go with spur of the moment ideas and just try stuff out, but because I know I am bad at planning, I have become super focussed on planning better utilising my calendar as a to-do list, marking up things to do in advance as appointments, relying on action lists and undertaking a weekly review to see what I need to do in the coming weeks and pick up anything I might have otherwised overlooked. It is not a full proof system, and I still miss things, but it certainly helps.

As leaders, many of us are familiar with the saying, “failing to plan is planning to fail”. Perhaps a better quote is “plan for nothing, and you’ll be sure to achieve it”. My suspicion is many leaders within the Church are not natural planners; perhaps they feel that planning is primarily a management tool, and as such ‘not for them’ and yet some of the worst services and groups that I’ve attended were not bad because the leader wasn’t gifted to share or teach, nor because she or he was not fully capable, but primarily because the person leading hadn’t taken the time to prepare.

I think God is a great planner; Christmas for me is a beautiful reminder that the incarnation was something that God had planned ever since the fall; God didn't send his only son on a whim, or spur of the moment idea – it was intended from the beginning and was very much intentional. I think Jesus, in teaching his followers the cost of being a follower in Luke 14, gives the nod to the importance of planning; he uses the illustration of the foolishness of beginning a tower-building project without assessing the resources needed - surely this is a good example of the need for careful planning in ministry?

So, in this e-news, we include a link to a couple of helpful resources. The first is a year planner available through our friends at CPO that might be a useful prod to your year ahead in terms of planning for particular services and events. (For a FREE A3 paper version, simply spend £3.85 or more at CPO and use the promo code RURAL at checkout.) The second is a resource I discovered to help with planning for services, but I think it could be equally used for events. It can be tailored for your context and can be downloaded free of charge here.

Let me finish with one last piece of advice; our families deserve our undivided attention. Christmas can be an incredibly busy period in ministry, where much time is given to creating various services and outreach initiatives. In your planning, please do ensure that you include ‘family time’; a time where you can give those around you your full, undivided attention. It might just be the most missional thing you do this Christmas!