Did you make a New Year’s resolution for 2019? Did you break it already? Most people who make resolutions break them in the first months of the New Year. We mean well, but it’s 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.
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 2019 in full. If so, assess if any of the following ideas have made it to your plan:
1. Plan out a 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 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. Pick a place and time and purpose for prayer for the next 3 months.
If you need help making plans to pray, download our FREE eBook "Personal Prayer Life" today!
2. Plan out where you think God wants to take your congregation.
How do you think the people in your congregation need to mature in this year? Are you aware of what is happening in the personal lives of your people? 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? Are there particular idols you recognize? Spiritual drought? Prayerlessness? Do you know their identity in Christ?
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 is destination in those areas in 2019?
At the close of this year, what do you hope the people know, do, or have been motivated deeper to be? Once you figure that out, you should 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.
You will get a greater long-term impact and influence by developing other men and women into godly, gospel leaders. You multiply your capacity to minister in the church and city if you develop leaders.
Who is on your list to develop? What is their personal plan to develop into the man or woman God planned for them? What gifts do they need to develop? What do they need to grow into in the way they think about God, about life, or about their career? What ministry skills can be sharpened? 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 end of this year? 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 your life this year?
Who can you spend time with who will stretch your thinking? Who will increase your capacity to trust Christ more deeply? Who can coach you in the church plant to achieve more than you dared imagine last year?
You can’t tackle all these major ideas at once. But I pray these ideas stimulate your mind and engage your affections. 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 2019 than you are today.
Remember, you don’t have struggle in church ministry alone. Many church leaders and pastors feel confused or discouraged about how to help their ministry thrive. The tendency during this season is to believe God must intend someone else to “take it to the next level.” Don’t walk away from your investment! Having a church coach can make a difference!
A CMM Gospel Coach can help guide you and your 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.
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!