A pastor recently shared an observation and a dilemma all leaders face. He told me about his strategic plan for 2020, and how it disintegrated and had to be recreated in a very different form in March 2020 when the COVID pandemic emerged as the defining cultural event for last year. His observation: our best-laid ministry plans, prayerfully made, can be wrecked by circumstances outside our control. This raises the dilemma: how much should we invest in strategic planning as ministry leaders?

One way to resolve this question is to understand the difference between predicting the future and anticipating the future. No one can predict the future. When leaders try to do this, they inevitably make poor decisions which lock them into counterproductive commitments when circumstances change. Predicting the future is presumptuous and reflects hubris, not humility. Anticipating the future is different. It determines a general understanding of what is likely to happen and implements incremental commitments accordingly. When these sometimes go awry, they are usually less constricting and troublesome to correct than commitments made from a prediction mindset.

Even though plans often need to be adjusted, sometimes dramatically, leaders still need to think strategically and plan intentionally for future progress. This is not, in and of itself, presumptuous. It can be a positive spiritual process, rooted in faith and demonstrating humility. Here are three ways strategic ministry planning is a positive aspect of ministry leadership. One, it concretizes our hope for a better future. It puts feet to our prayers as we ask God to increase our effectiveness, enlarge our impact, and do more through us in the future than he has in the past. Second, it creates a framework for collaboration and participation by many in a shared effort. Vision inspires, but plans give people channels to actualize their dreams. Finally, strategic planning demonstrates courage. Getting to a preferred future almost always means change, interpersonal conflict, and shared sacrifice. These pressure points are inevitable when a leader asks people to create a new future.

As we begin a new year, much is changing in our country and around the world. The pandemic will likely abate, new political leadership will take over in the United States, and new global challenges will emerge. Some things have not changed, however. People still need to be reached with the gospel, converts still need to be grown into disciples, churches still need to enlarge their ministry impact, and ministry organizations must keep reinventing themselves to remain effective in fulfilling their mission.

Leaders anticipate the future and plan accordingly. Start 2021 with hope, collaboration, and courage—expressed by implementing plans to better fulfill God’s mission as it expresses itself in and through the mission of the church or organization you lead.


Read More

Anger or Acceptance

Dr. Iorg offers three ways leaders can better respond to change.

Jeff Iorg
President
Dr. Jeff Iorg is the president of Gateway Seminary. Prior to his service at the Seminary, Dr. Iorg was the Executive Director of the Northwest Baptist Convention for almost ten years. He was also the founding pastor of Greater Gresham Baptist Church in Gresham, Oregon, and has served as a pastor in Missouri and a staff pastor in Texas.

Being Young: A Biblical Theology of Youth – An Excerpt

Dr. Paul Kelly provides a biblically informed theology of youth that gives youth ministers and pastors a deeper understanding of the common experience and divine purpose of teenage years. You can find an excerpt of his new publication here.

Paul G. Kelly
Chair, Educational Leadership | Professor of Educational Leadership
Dr. Paul Kelly began his service at Gateway Seminary in Fall 2009 as the chair and professor of Educational Leadership. Prior to Gateway, Kelly served as vice president of ministry resources at Student Life Publishing, editor-in-chief of discipleship resources in Student Ministry Publishing at LifeWay Christian Resources, as well as a youth specialist in Discipleship at LifeWay.

Listen

Study Isaiah
September 26, 2022

Woes on Israel – Isaiah 5 & 10-12

This week on Study Isaiah, Dr. Paul Wegner and host Tyler Sanders jump from the beginning to the end of a major palistrophe to talk about the Song of the Vineyard, the Song of Thanksgiving and the woe oracles.
Lead On Podcast
September 25, 2022

Effective Listening for Ministry Leaders

Dr. Iorg explains how leaders can be more effective by learning how to be better listeners. Listening is a skill and like all skills it can be improved.

Watch

Spirituality of Jonathan Edwards | JEC at Gateway Seminary

Dr. Chris Chun hosted a digital symposium with Dr. Michael Haykin and Dr. Robert Caldwell to discuss Edwards’ spirituality, devotional life and theological impact in American Christianity.

Chris Chun
Professor of Church History | Director, Jonathan Edwards Center
Dr. Chris Chun is the professor of Church History and the director of Jonathan Edwards Center at Gateway Seminary. Chris’ doctoral research at St. Andrews University was focused on the eighteenth-century Edwardsean Baptists in Britain. He also has served as president of The Evangelical Theological Society (Far West Region).

Faculty Dialogues: Dispensationalism or Not

In this episode of Faculty Dialogues, Dr. David Rathel and Dr. Paul Wegner held a live discussion on their views on dispensationalism.

David Rathel
Associate Professor of Christian Theology
Dr. Rathel is the associate professor of Chrisitian Theology at Gateway Seminary. Prior to Gateway, Dr. Rathel supplied pastoral care to churches in the United States and Scotland, served as an Adjunct Professor of Theology and Philosophy for the Baptist College of Florida, and provided teaching assistance for the University of St Andrews.

Get updates on new content!