Stepping stones to a God-preferred future

Written by Keith Doornbos
August 3, 2020

Given today’s uncertainties, a new approach is emerging that shortens vision planning to a more knowable 90-day cycle. Each cycle becomes a stepping stone.

Pre-COVID the typical church renewal process helped congregations identify a 5-10 year God-given vision for a God-preferred future. With that vision in hand, incremental steps were developed to move from here to there.  That approach has been sidelined by the pandemic. No one can imagine what a vibrant mission-focused church will look like in a post-COVID world. Given today’s uncertainties, a new approach is emerging that shortens vision planning to a more knowable 90-day cycle.  Each cycle becomes a stepping stone towards a still unknowable God-preferred future.  Church revitalization guru, George Bullard, calls this an “Incremental Route” to congregational redevelopment.

Here are 7 steps for each 90-day vision season:   

Step 1: Name the season

Naming each 90-day cycle is helpful for identifying the realities and goals of the season.  For example, if the 90 days are September through November, 2020 the season could be called the “mid-pandemic, discipleship-1” season.  Mid-pandemic names the realities.  Discipleship-1 names the goal.

Step 2: Name the goals of the season

If the season is “discipleship-1” the general goal is discipleship for all ages as is typical for a fall ministry launch. The question to be addressed is, “What will be the emphasis of this discipleship season?” or “What will be the focus of preaching, small groups, on-line classes and age specific curriculum?”

Step 3: Name the challenges of the season

Pairing “mid-pandemic” and “discipleship-1” identifies the challenges of this season; namely, getting Zoom weary members engaged in discipleship when in-person gatherings are in doubt.  Additionally, some families will be in survival mode with kids in transition and finances on the brink.

Step 4:  Name the strategies for the season

Each 90-day season should have strategies uniquely designed for that season.  Discipleship in the fall of 2020 will be different from discipleship in the spring of 2021.  To help with seasonal strategizing, Vibrant Congregations has a helpful “30-60-90 day” planning process you can link to HERE.

Step 5: Name the leaders and partners for the season

Every season should have a unique set of leaders and partners who can help a church live fully into the emphasis of the season.  These leaders/partners could include guest teachers, guest curriculum developers, on-line retreat leaders, or partnerships with other churches or helping agencies.

Step 6: Name the ministry measures for the season

What will ministry success look like for this season?  What will be your ministry “win”?  Knowing your target helps focused your process.  Will you measure participation, attraction of non-members, views on YouTube, number of neighbors served or measurable gains in Christian living?

Step 7: Name the direction toward your God-preferred future

An evaluation should be conducted as each 90-day season concludes to name the direction that this cycle took towards a God-preferred future.  Since this is an incremental process, naming what is helps focus what should be and provides clarity for the ministry emphasis for the following 90 days.

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