Prophetic vision and strategic planning for church growth are both essential partners in church leadership. It is an error to view the prophetic and the strategic as enemies. For some, it seems impossible to value the prophetic leading of God whilst incorporating plans or targets. Others go another way, and have incredible steps, objectives, goals and measurables that are all but written in blood, and any whisper or activity of the Holy Spirit that may require a rewrite is dismissed and rationalised away.
This does not need to be so! Rather than oppose one another, these two elements actually complement each other! In fact, they must be partnered together for each to fully serve their purpose. The prophetic is the revelation of heart of God – what He wants, desires, wishes, thinks, feels and know. The strategic is the practical outworkings of a mission or goal. Together, the prophetic provides the vision, and the strategic defines the action. Vision without plans is fantasy. Activity without vision is foolishness. Especially when strategic planning is aiming to see church growth, prophetic vision and insight is a must.
All churches have an apostolic purpose to represent the heart of God. He reveals what that purpose looks like for that individual church through the prophetic. This purpose may come internally, through the dreams, desires, calling and sense of the leaders, or it may come externally, through prophetic words, pictures, scriptures and counsel from others. Often, it’s a combination of both. These prophetic signposts help map the journey and put language to the prophetic vision of the journey the church is being called on, articulating and inspiring by painting a picture of what the path may look like. Vision is meant to captivate, inspire and illuminate. It wins hearts and turns heads. It provides direction and clarity to act upon what God is saying and energy to follow his voice, even when it seems like the unwisest choice or option in light of circumstances! This is the energy behind any kind of strategic planning.
The strategic puts wheels on the vision. Planning is important, but plans for plan’s sake are not. Plans without a sense of prioritization lead to chaos. A lack of planning will result in us reacting to the urgent instead of pursuing the important. A strategy helps us determine our short, medium and long-term goals, targets and objectives. It is the plotting of the course towards the destination we want to arrive at. As God speaks, new information is revealed and things change. Therefore, our strategy needs to be dynamic and flexible. Strategy is a servant that moves us forward, instead of a master that holds us back. Any kind of strategic planning for church growth must be an organic, dynamic document subject to the leading and moving of the Spirit.
Even our church culture and church structure have to be shaped prophetically. This does not mean they change whimsically, but that underneath it all, there are prophetic promises directing the changes – and a strategy that focuses them. I believe this is the biblical model shown throughout scripture, as I have written elsewhere.
For those of us involved with leading in churches or kingdom-focused organisations, this combination of the prophetic and strategic is key to seeing God do all He wants to do through us. Prophetic vision lines us up with God’s heart, and dynamic strategy generates momentum to pursue it. It is the perfect combination for strategic planning for church growth and will allow us to fully partner with God and advance His Kingdom here on the earth.
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