A Need For Strategy
What things come to mind when talking about strategy? Go ahead, stop an think about it for a little bit. For me I either think of football or military talk. I spent some time in the Marine Corps and if you were to ask those I have lead and done life with the most, they would tell you I have a tendency to lean towards the military analogy.
When I think strategy, it brings to mind images of General Schwarzkopfstanding over a sand table or in front of a giant map explaining to his staff how they are going to defeat the Iraqi army in the days and weeks leading up to Dessert Storm. He explains what every element is going to do, time tables they will all be on, who is doing what, and who is in charge of what. Then, after breaking down all the ins and outs, the strategy for victory, every possible scenario and detail, he turned to his staff and like every good leader said,
“now go and explain this to your soldiers.”
As history tells us, it worked. The allied forces won. It goes without saying, but they did not just show up and walk into a dessert to see white flags waiving. The weeks, and probably months, leading up the to the invasion were spent planning, prepping, weighing the cost, and creating a strategy.
The question that naturally comes up, the question you may be thinking right now, is what does Stormin’ Norman have to do with me? Discipleship and ministry require strategy but what does that really look like? I would like to share some thoughts on developing strategy.
First of all, we must start with the end in mind. I'm in student ministry so my goal is to get students through those awkward school years and on their way to adulthood. What I try to accomplish is when a student graduates from high school they are able to step in and serve/lead in a variety of ministries or organizations. That doesn't just occur though so if that's my end goal, I have to be giving seniors opportunities to not only lead but to plan, organize, and execute events, teachings, bible studies, etc. But to even get them to that place I have to create a clear strategy that begins when a student enters my ministry in 6th grade. For me, it starts basic. We begin by making sure we're teaching that 6th grader how to read and understand scripture for themselves and how to pray. How else will they be teaching as juniors and seniors if they can't open the bible and understand it.
Another thought is to develop from where you are. Too many want to take another church's ideas, model, or curriculum and apply it thinking it's going to grow their ministry. Take what you have in front of you and begin there. I've heard people say, "I don't have enough students to do student leadership." The questions I always ask at that point is "how will you ever have student leadership if you don't start developing it." We must be careful not to compare what we're doing to other ministries or organizations. We must never think we don't have enough resources or people to accomplish great things or to develop leaders.
My hope for this is not convince anyone they are doing something wrong but to encourage you. You don't need a organization or ministry of hundreds to accomplish this, after all, Jesus only had twelve.