Plan Your Ministry 5

Jeremiah 29:11

As an adult I love most vegetables and I have taken on much healthier eating habits in the past year than I have ever had. But when I was a child I was just like any other kid. I hated vegetables and sometimes wondered if my mother was actually trying to poison me by making me eat some of those strange things on the table.

Of course she was not trying to poison me. In fact, just the opposite was true. She wanted me to eat well so I would be healthy and strong. So often our present circumstances keep us from seeing the good intentions meant for us.

There are many times when we may question what is happening around us and what is happening in our society or our very church. Does God want evil to prevail? Does God want the church to fall apart?

No, of course not. God wants what is best for us and wants the good and holy work of His church to succeed. This sentiment is pointed out in this passage from Jeremiah. What does God know? What assurance does He give?

This was the message for the Israelites living in exile, living a life with little hope. They felt defeated and lost. But God reminded the people through His prophet that God had plans for them – good plans, plans of hope and prosperity.

We may need to remember this assurance from God ourselves. God knows what the future holds. He wants us to succeed and be happy and holy. He has plans for us – big plans of accomplishment and success.

We may not understand what God is doing all the time, but we must trust that His plans are for our good, for a bright and hopeful future. We may not understand what we are to do, but we must trust that God’s plans are for the good and we should live out those plans.

How can we get to this future God has for us? God has the plans for our future; we simply need to get those plans from God. Through prayer and diligent seeking we can learn the plans God has for us and then live them out. Through careful organization and prayerful thinking we can set our ministries into motion to serve God and humanity and to glorify the Lord.

With the right source of inspiration, the right attitude and approach, we can live into the bright future God has planned for us.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What plans does God have for you?

Plan Your Ministry 4

Romans 15:23-25

Working at the daily newspaper in Hamilton was a stressful job because of its very strict deadlines for when work needed to be completed. One morning one of the editor’s did not show up for work. We had no idea where he was or why he wasn’t at work, but the job had to get done so we all pitched in and divided his duties among us. When he finally showed up about three hours late the manager asked where he had been.

“The police knew where I was,” was his only response.

For teams to function well, for ministry to work, we often need to communicate with one another.

We may have a passion for certain ministries and we may love being involved in those ministries, but we should never lose sight of the fact that we are not alone. In his letter to the believers in Rome what information does Paul share with them? What is he hoping for? What must he do now?

There is no evidence that Paul ever made it to Spain and most scholars agree that he went to Rome only because he was a prisoner of the empire. But when this letter was written Paul had plans. His current work was finished. He had to go to Jerusalem. And after that he wanted to go to Rome and then Spain.

He told the church in Rome that he wanted to visit, but also that he wanted them to help him in his work. In this obscure and somewhat uninspiring passage we see Paul working out his plans. But we also see Paul being inclusive.

In this passage he has stopped with his teaching on spiritual matters and is including the believers in his ministry by letting them know what he is doing. He also invites them to be part of his work.

As we examine our ministries and as we make plans for our ministries we need to recall that we are not alone in our work. As we make plans for ministry we must invite others to be part of that ministry. And an essential part of successful teamwork is the sharing of information. As you enter into a ministry with others be certain to share the work and keep everyone involved in the loop of knowledge.

DAILY CHALLENGE: Who needs to be invited into ministry?

Plan Your Ministry 3

Romans 10:14-15

“I need details!” was the message on a t-shirt that Greg, one of the volunteers at our previous church, often wore. While working with him on various projects I found it to be quite true – Greg did best when he had a lot of information.

What do you need? When do you need it? Where do you want it? Why do you need it? Who else is involved? The more information you could provide to Greg the more successful the ministry and the smoother everything went.

In the letter to the church at Rome Paul outlines a familiar progression in ministry. This logic moves from the end to the beginning. What is the real progression required in helping believers?

We must send someone into ministry so that person may preach. When that person preaches others will hear about God and believe. When someone believes in God they will know they can call on God.

The ministry has a plan. Send someone and have them preach so others can believe. In that plan are not only the steps for the ministry but the reason for the work.

As we examine our own call to ministry, whether we are working on new ideas for ministry and outreach or evaluating current ministries, we must have all of our details in our planning. Simply having a call or desire to serve God is not enough. Having a vague idea of what should be done is a start, but a good, solid plan for effective ministry will have clear details.

As we work out the plan for our ministry we should organize the details and information so that the plans follow from beginning to end. What is the process? What resources do you need? How will you go about the ministry?

We should also be aware of our goal. We may be doing it for the love of God and people, but it helps to be more specific and intentional. Why are we doing this and who are we reaching?

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you organize a ministry?

Plan Your Ministry 2

Nehemiah 2:13-18

You would think that putting a screw into a piece of wood would be no big deal, but two years ago I learned I wasn’t doing it right. I always simply put the screw to the wood and turned it as I pressed against it. There were times when the screw would go in fairly easily, but often it was a struggle. Then someone pointed out how helpful a pilot hole is to guide the screw and keep the wood from splitting. It only took a minute to have someone point out my problem and give me a solution.

Nehemiah 2:11-15 focuses on Nehemiah’s assessment of the work that needs to be done in rebuilding Jerusalem. He looks over the problem and begins to develop a plan on how to restore the city. What is his invitation to the city officials? What was their response?

Verses 11 through 15 give us the details of Nehemiah’s inspection. He examines the ruins of Jerusalem without the presence of others so that he might have an accurate, first-hand picture of what needs to be done. When he is finished he explains the situation and his intentions to the leaders of Jerusalem, and they are willing to help him accomplish his ministry.

Most churches have ministries already in place or at least ministries that once existed. To serve God and to revitalize a church we may need to breathe new life into existing ministries or adjust current ministries to address current needs and changes in our culture.

Just as Gideon did not plunge forward into battle but waited for God to give him His plan, we need to examine our ministries and evaluate their effectiveness. Through an honest approach, an unbiased examination, and prayerful guidance from God we can look at the work of our church and decide if changes are necessary. Evaluating resources and needs are essential parts of planning God’s work.

As Nehemiah reminded the officials of God’s gracious hand upon him, we must remember to include God’s wisdom in our assessment of work and be gracious ourselves to those already involved in ministry. Our evaluations should be done in love and not involve harsh criticism.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How will you assess current ministries?

Plan Your Ministry 1

Judges 7:2-6

I used to watch the painter Bob Ross on Saturday morning television. He was one of those who taught painting and could finish a picture within thirty minutes. It always fascinated me how a painting could emerge from the mess that he started with. The first half of the show usually involved colors and shapes that made no sense to me but eventually evolved into something nice. It became evident that the work which at first seemed random was actually following a plan.

If we will place ourselves where God can use us, pray that God will help us, and picture what God wants, then we must plan out what we will do to make our ministry a reality. God gave Gideon a plan when he was facing the Midianites.

What was the problem? What was God’s solution? Why did God want fewer men?

As an armchair general, someone who enjoys examining military tactics and historical battles, this story has always set my teeth on edge. When facing an opponent in combat a leader wants as many soldiers under his control as possible. Yet God had a different plan for Gideon.

If you finish the story of Gideon and the Midianites (Judges 7:17-21) you will see that only three-hundred men were needed to fulfill God’s plan. Rather than confront the enemy in battle the Israelites under Gideon used psychology, tricking the enemy into believing they were outnumbered and surrounded.

The battle was a success because Gideon followed the plan that God gave him. God outlined what needed to be done and Gideon, rather than rush into battle without thought, obeyed God and followed the plan.

Our ministry ideas and desires may at first appear to be haphazard and messy. To achieve success we will need to plan our ministry, and yet also avoid the pitfall of becoming mired in so much planning that we are bogged down in indecision and fear.

As we face the challenges of ministry and of doing the work of God we will need to rely on God’s guidance. But we will also need to take some time and decide the best way to go about that ministry. Successful ministry follows well-planned organization.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you develop a plan for ministry?