Have truer words ever been uttered? I think I was attracted to this quote for two reasons: 1) I have spent a good portion of my month pouring over First Lutheran’s strategic plan and 2) tomorrow I get to accompany a veteran to Washington DC for a freedom honor flight where he will visit the memorial that was built for him and his comrades in arms. (I say tomorrow because I write this Sept. 19 so that it can appear in the October newsletter.) So, an Eisenhower quote about plans and planning really spoke to me today.
It is with great satisfaction that I can proclaim with deep confidence that you will be presented with First Lutheran’s long-awaited Strategic Ministry Plan this month! You’ll hear more specifics about it either on the 19th or 26th, depending on when we can get it printed. But once it’s printed, you and every other member will be invited/encouraged to attend a cottage meeting where you can ask any question you’d like. We’ll offer them Sundays between worship, some during the day, and some during the weeknights so that no one feels left out. As we begin this program year of service and fellowship, this is a great conversation for us to have. Let me give you an example of one of our initiatives that addresses one of our greatest desires: to become a church centered more on community service….
Initiative: Engage members of First Lutheran Church in work that serves those in need locally.
Goal 1) Recruit passionate disciples to lead the Community Outreach Action Team (COAT)
Goal 2) Create Operating and Training Plan for Community Outreach Action Team.
Tactic 1) Create criteria for forming a partnership with any community organization.
Tactic 2) Decide on levels of support that may be offered in terms of money, time from volunteers, use of our space etc.
Tactic 3) Determine criteria for forming partnerships with other churches.
Tactic 4) Determine how team will accept applications from organizations for support.
There are two other goals, and many more tactics in this initiative, but I want to save the rest. Currently, we don’t have any criteria for who to support, how to make and whether to keep partnerships. We just kind of fly by the seat of our pants, which has worked for a long time, but as our desire increases to focus more attention on community service, we need to come up with a more robust process for partnering with other organizations. As you know in your own life, there are so many worthy causes. How do we decide which efforts to contribute our time and treasure? Our strategic plan will guide our conversations. I sincerely hope you not only read the plan once you receive it, but that you participate in a cottage meeting conversation to answer any questions or concerns that arise.
But we all need to remember the spirit of Eisenhower’s quote. Planning is indispensable. We have learned SO much about ourselves this past year. We have prayed and received clear vision for so many great things that God will do through us in the coming years. In all, over 500 people have contributed to the conversation and more than 50 helped to sit down and write the thing. The process itself has built us up, even before we have produced a single final page.
Once the plan is made, it will guide our ministries. I hope it doesn’t become ‘useless’ as Eisenhower says, but we’ll need to remember it is there to serve us… not the other way around. Your congregational patience has been great! Thank you for waiting these many months, but I believe when you see the finished product you’ll agree, it was worth our time.
Photo credit: Birger King on Flickr