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.


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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.

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Dr. Iorg responds to the Tyre Nichols tragedy and commends the response of the Nichols family.

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.

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Dr. Iorg reaffirms the importance of relationships and asks the church to make three choices to promote healthy community.

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.

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January 31, 2023

Brian Simms

In this new episode, our host is joined by Brian Simms, senior pastor of CrossPointe Church in Fontana, CA. Pastor Brian shares his process of how choosing the sermon themes for the year, how he gets organized for the week, and how he has grown over the years.
Lead On Podcast
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Dr. Iorg and talks with Dr. Alicia Wong about the various roles women can take in ministry and especially in church planting.

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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.

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