Did you make a New Year’s resolutions for 2016? Did you break your resolution already? Most people who make resolutions break them in the first months of the New Year. We mean well, but it’s all too easy to let go of our focus and resort back to our comfortable habits. What kinds of ministry decisions can you resolve to do that won't end up on the trash heap of good intentions? Let me begin by saying start small. Add as you can.
When I was leading a congregation we focused on major planning in the fall (not the New Year) but these plans had implications for each New Year. I don't know how the rhythm of your ministry life operates so maybe you have already planned for 2106 in full. If so, assess if any of the following ideas have made it to your plan. If you are taking a few weeks to prepare for the rest of this year or looking forward already to the work you’ll be starting in 2017, I pray these ideas stimulate your mind and engage your affections. Perhaps you will not be able to do all the below, so choose the one or two that will get you on the right track.
1. Plan out your half-day of prayer schedule. As a leader, spending half-days of prayer in a regular cycle—monthly, every 6 weeks—will give you connection with God and connection with the seasons God is working. It is spiritual breath to your soul. Now, I suspect if you are normal and you don't do this you either feel guilty because you know you should and haven’t or you feel a sense of pride cause you already do. No need for self-pity if you haven’t. It’s a friendly reminder to get back to the first things. Lay it into your iCal now. Pick a place and time and purpose for the next 3 months. Just three months.
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2. Plan out where you think God wants to take your congregation. What do you think they need to mature in this year? In their relationships with one another — marriage, parents, friendships, etc. What growth needs to happen personally with them? Do many come from a deeply wounded past?
One season in my last church, well over a dozen couples were reeling with marital infidelity (all at the same time). We had to spend a quarter of the year preaching, teaching, and small group intervention for those couples.
Are you aware of what is happening in the personal lives of your people? How about missionally in the city? God has a mission and he has a church for his mission. What is God’s mission for your church? How do you prepare the people for that mission? What about the spiritual maturity of your congregation? Are there particular idols you recognize? Spiritual drought? Prayerlessness? Do you know their identity in Christ? What is destination for 2016 in those areas?
In other words, at the close of 2016, what do you hope the people who have participated in the life of your church know, do, relate or have been motivated deeper to be? Once you figure that out — and maybe its more than one thing — you become intentional in your preaching, disciple-making and leadership development. From that, pick the book of the Bible that addresses the issues or build your themes on the topics. Worship is planned accordingly. Maybe it’s designed by the four quarters to deal with multiple issues or designed by half and half of the year.
3. Write a Leadership Development Plan. As a Planter, you get greater long-term impact and influence by developing other men and women into godly, gospel leaders than you do from the platform. You multiply your capacity to minister in the church and city if you develop others.
Who is on your list to develop? What is their personal plan to develop into the man or woman God planned for them when he created them with dignity and purpose? What gifts do they need developing? What do they need to grow up into in the way they think about God, about life or about their career? What ministry skills can be sharpened? Where is their core disciple identity found? In what they do or who God has created them and loved them to be?
Your job is to help them figure out how they develop. People are busy and you cannot waste their time with rudderless leadership.
4. Take inventory of your own personal development. What kind of person do you want to be at the close of 2016? Where do you need to grow and develop as a man or woman? Where does Jesus want to work in me as his disciple? He knows and he is speaking. How does his Gospel want to work in my life this year?
Who can I spend time with who will stretch my thinking? Who will increase my capacity to trust Christ more deeply? Who can coach me in the church plant to achieve more than I dared imagine last year?
Yes, as I said at the beginning, too many major ideas for you to tackle all at once. But I am convinced if you will grab one or two of these ideas and pray them down, you will be a different person at the close of 2016 than you were today.
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Remember, you don’t have to plant a church alone. A CMM C.R.O.S.S. Coach will give you the margin you need to think. Our coaches will engage your heart and life. Church Planter coaching is a process of imparting encouragement and skills to the planter in order to succeed in the task of starting a gospel-saturated church, in the context of a gospel friendship. Learn more about CMM C.R.O.S.S. Coaching today.
Are you at the 5-7 year mark? Many young church leaders and pastors feel confused or discouraged about what to do next. The tendency during this season is to believe God must intend someone else to “take it to the next level.” The next level, unfortunately, is almost always down. Don’t walk away from your investment! CMM’s NEXT 5-7 will guide the church through a process of identifying and implementing practical, measurable, gospel-focused ministry practices that sharpen the God given mission and improve the health of the local church. Learn more today!
Dr. Tom Wood
I've been in the Church Planting business my entire career. I want you to know, you don't have to plant a church alone!