Transforming our Understanding of Strategic Missional Planning

By Steve Matthews, FaithX Senior Consultant

Editor’s Note: This is the beginning of a 4-part series on Strategic Missional Planning in different contexts. Next week’s post will be on strategic missional planning for leadership transition.

Remember the good ol’ days when we felt we could project the trajectory of our congregations and judicatories with some degree of confidence?  Remember what it was like to be able to cast a vision based on thoughtful discernment and a sense of stability – believing that in five years we might just reach our goals?  

The world has certainly changed in a year, and we are reminded again that we are not in control.  A couple of nights ago I had a very dramatic and involved dream.  All night long, I was battling evil “Transformers.”  You know, the Paramount Pictures, 200-feet-tall monsters that have the ability to change themselves from a walking robot to a fire-shooting four-wheel vehicle of destruction.  They are very adaptable based on the threat and the weaknesses they see in their opponent.  In reaction to their threats, I was also called to be very adaptable (mostly in the strategic way I hid from them).  It was an exhausting night.

2020 was an exhausting year, and we as faith communities continue to be called toward adaptability.  In 2021 it is possible to plan and to be adaptable… and even strategic, but we won’t do it in the same way we did prior to 2020.  We need to recommit to those spiritual practices that ground us in God’s love, to the practices that enable us to listen to one another and our neighbors at a deep level, to practices that encourage us to accompany our hurting neighbors in a more courageous and prophetic way – and we need to understand our world better in order to move forward together based on our current reality.

In the coming weeks, we will use this blog to explore what it means to plan strategically in these challenging times, and we will be offering a lens to see the possibilities in the midst of the challenges.  Perhaps you find yourself searching for a new priest/rector, or maybe you really do want to look ahead, building on what you have learned this year because you have a vision for your faith community’s growth.  Maybe your church is struggling, and you wonder if you are going to make it.  Wherever you are, we have all learned a lot about adaptability in these changing times – in truth we can be “Holy Transformers”, changing to meet the expected and unexpected demands we encounter… with God’s help.  Romans 12: 2 states, Do not be conformed to this world,[a] but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.”   

Coming Soon: FaithX Missional Book Reviews

The FaithX blog will soon include occasional book reviews, published on a roughly quarterly basis. If you have recently read a great book on a missional subject and would like to share your thoughts about it with fellow readers, just write a brief review (500 words max), including author name, title, publisher, and summary of what you learned from reading it.

Available Now: New Book Offer for FaithX Readers

Our friends at the Global Center for Religious Research have just released a new book by anthropologist Jack David Eller entitled, “Trump and Political Theology: Unmaking Truth and Democracy,” and are offering FaithX readers the opportunity to download and read the first three chapters free.

Click here to access the download page

“Here is an analysis of the Donald Trump phenomenon that goes deeper and wider than anything I’ve read.” –Mark Galli, Former Editor-in-Chief, Christianity Today

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