Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Strategic Planning and the Church

I never was very good at this game.

Our church is in the process of finding a new rector. One of the things the Diocese of Upper South Carolina is asking for is a "Strategic Plan." Talk about reinventing the wheel! I think this a ridiculous waste of time. Why make being a Christian more complicated? Are we to be guided by some new strategic plan reluctantly drawn up by volunteers, or should we read the plan written by saints and martyrs that has been around for the past 2000 years?

C.S. Lewis had something to say about that plan.

"May I come back to what I said before? This is the whole of Christianity. There is nothing else. It is so easy to get muddled about that. It is easy to think that the Church has a lot of different objects—education, building, missions, holding services. Just as it is easy to think the State has a lot of different objects—military, political, economic, and what not. But in a way things are much simpler than that. The State exists simply to promote and to protect the ordinary happiness of human beings in this life. A husband and wife chatting over a fire, a couple of friends having a game of darts in a pub, a man reading a book in his own room or digging in his own garden—that is what the State is there for. And unless they are helping to increase and prolong and protect such moments, all the laws, parliaments, armies, courts, police, economics, etc., are simply a waste of time. In the same way the Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose. It is even doubtful, you know, whether the whole universe was created for any other purpose. It says in the Bible that the whole universe was made for Christ and that everything is to be gathered together in Him."

C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (New York: Touchstone), pp 170-171.

Forget your strategic planning sessions, anything you create will just be put on the shelf to collect dust.

As an alternative, send a copy of your well read Bible to the Diocese with a little note attached saying, "I hope this plan meets with your approval."

That's my stratego and I'm stickin with it.


  1. When I started reading, I thought I'd leave a comment about sending the diocese a list of New Testament verses starting with the Great Commission in Matthew, but your idea in the second to last paragraph is better.

    BTW, when we got our new pastor 3 years ago, is first series of sermons was on where Christ wanted us as individuals and as a congregation to be and to go. It sounded vaguely like strategic planning, and I feared we'd hired one of Rick Warren's "Purpose Driven" minions. Fortunately, his sermons didn't rely on the latest fad, but on the Bible and led us to a vision of reaching out in Christ's name to evangelize and minister to our community, country and the world. Since then, the focus is on witnesses and missions, using the Bible as our sole resource.

    As strategic plans go it seems to be working pretty well.


  2. Randall,

    Sounds like a plan!

  3. good point. I did strategic planning in a non-profit for years. I value the planning process and I value the indepth reflection which took place. I also found myself how often we were trying to create 'good looking mission statements' and so I pushed for us to write goals which sounded like real people talking in the back yard.

    It is helpful to be clear about our mission, but the process can sometimes take the place of actual discipleship and evangelism