Monday, November 21, 2011

Planning for Success

A Simple Strategy for Success

Written by Cory Collins

“Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest.” Jn 4:35

Being “shrewd as serpents” (Matt 10:16) involves both prayerful and careful effort in doing the work of the Lord’s church. In order to “grow up into our Head” with the “proper working of each individual part” (Eph 4:15f), we must plan the work and then work the plan.

Our friend Michael Jackson, the Director of Institutional Effectiveness at Heritage Christian University, superbly assists every department head in the planning and assessment of its work. Using a six-step paradigm, he helps leaders draw a map and then follow it. Eureka! This system, at least in principle, could be adapted to benefit the work of the local church.

The first step is to define the “Purpose.” Here we would state the function of the church, “to save the lost and secure the saved,” or “to evangelize, educate, and edify.” We could then add the specific mission of any ministry, such as our educational program: “To teach the Word of God clearly and accurately, so that all may know Him and do His will.”

The second step is to list the “Strategic Goals.” These might include biblical concepts, texts, classes, opportunities, and applications which the Bible school aims to provide.

The third step notes “Objectives – Means of Assessment and Criteria for Success.” These are specific, measurable, achievable, time-bound benchmarks that will mark progress. They could include grade-level review quizzes, service projects, student essays, etc.

The fourth step lists the “Assessment Results.” What did the tests, activities, or other instruments indicate? Did the students make the intended score, or exhibit the desired mastery of the concept, or accomplish the pre-selected level of success?

The fifth step states the “Use of Results.” Based on the outcomes in step four, we reevaluate and reconstruct our objectives. If we reached them, we move on to new horizons. If not, we stick with them, diagnose the failure, and devise a better way to proceed.

The sixth step identifies the persons responsible, the due date, and the budget impact. Who are the “go-to” leaders that will implement the updated aims? By what date will they have completed the task? What resources will be required and set aside?

This same, simple strategy can be applied to local evangelism, benevolence, youth, the training of new elders, deacons, and teachers, etc. This six-step cycle can be repeated over and over and over again until the job is done. The Lord’s work is not complicated, but it does require big-picture thinking and nuts-and-bolts participation.

The gospel has the power, but we have the tools. Let’s put them to work.

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