Do we have a biblical foundation for the concept of strategic planning, or is it something we have taken from the secular business model and applied to our churches/ministries? Does God honor the process of strategic planning? By principal and by example, God’s Word establishes strategic planning as one of the ways He works in and through people. There are a number of leaders in Scriptures who thought and acted strategically. Yes, strategic planning is most certainly found in Scripture.
We see clearly in Scripture that Moses was a strategic thinker – or at least he learned to be. Moses was struggling as a leader soon after he led the nation of Israel out of Egypt. His father–in–law, Jethro, came to see him after hearing the incredible things God had been doing. Jethro observed that Moses was overwhelmed with burdens of leadership and shared with him a God – given plan – a strategy – for dealing with the issue. Jethro taught Moses how to set up a strategic plan by delegating the works so that the load would be spread among many. As a result, the manpower resources were used more effectively and the ministry was accomplished. Moses was also thinking strategically when he sent spies to the land of Canaan.
Joshua, the protégé of Moses, also demonstrated strategic leadership. God gave Joshua a little lesson on strategic thinking. As Joshua was to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land, they were facing the first enemy in the land. It just so happened to be the strong city of Jericho. God gave Joshua a strategy. He could have simply reached down from heaven and zapped the city, but God chose to work through a strategy that involved His people. God continues to work through His people today.
Nehemiah was a God-appointed leader who used strategy. When God laid it on his heart to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, Nehemiah began to establish and then work through a well-planned strategy to accomplish the vision God had given. He assessed the damage. He secured the resources. He established leaders and distributed the assignments among them.
David was a strategic thinker from boyhood. He did not defeat Goliath with His might or strong armor. He defeated Goliath using a God-given strategy that pinpointed the weakness of his enemy. Later, as a leader of soldiers, David used strategy in battle. David needed men who could think and plan strategically, and God gave him the men of Issachar (1Chron. 12:32).
The apostle Paul, a key player in establishing the early church, had a strategy. It is obvious in reading the accounts of his missionary journeys that Paul chose key cities in which to establish beachheads for ministry. He chose cities where he might have the greatest influence on the largest number of people. Ephesus, for example, was the gateway to Asia Minor.
“Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” – Proverbs 19:21
God’s purpose is the element in strategic planning for the church that is vastly different from secular strategic planning models. We see setting our hearts and minds on God as the beginning of the strategic planning process. Without question, it is God’s plan we want, not our own.
God obviously expects us to plan. He has given us a number of clear principles along with some great examples. He makes it clear that we are not to trust our own plans and strategies and ignore the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It is only after we seek the heart of God and his direction that we can establish plans that are pleasing to Him and plans that will succeed.
Strategic planning is not only a biblical concept it is a biblical mandate. It is God’s chosen method of working to establish how you and your church intend to carry out the great commission. Don’t just repeat last year. Be intentional in getting God’s heart and knowing how He will accomplish His mission in your setting.
Strategic thinking and planning help us integrate the will of the Holy Spirit, our own churches uniqueness, and our ongoing responsibilities as leaders to develop a Christ-centered church.
“The future belongs to those who prepare for it.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson