January is a great time to look back in order to look forward. I’ve never been a great planner, and it has only been in the last few years that I’ve been compelled by verses like Psalm 90:12 to plan as a way to be more intentional in how I spend my moments and my days toward eternal ends. I’ve also seen planning at work in our women’s ministry team, helping us make decisions about avenues of ministry we need to continue to pursue and where changes are needed. As you prepare for 2020, consider working through a planning process like the one that follows for a more intentional year, personally and/or in ministry.
Bathe your planning process, from start to finish, in prayer. Proverbs 16:9 says that “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” Pray that the Lord will give you eyes to see and understand the events of this past year through his eyes and that he would direct your plans and intentions for the coming year in accordance with his will.
If you have a personal, church, or ministry-specific mission, vision and values statement, review it up front, so that your present planning aligns with your ongoing purpose. If not, then align your planning with the clear direction believers have already received from the Lord. Luke 10:27 says, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.”
Before we move forward, it’s important to take time to look back and gain perspective. Ask yourself three simple questions:
- What worked well last year?
- What challenges did you encounter last year?
- What are some things God has taught you through both?
You might consider what worked well and challenges faced with regard to your health, spiritual life, relationships, family, work and/or ministry. Finally, think about 2-5 key lessons God has taught you that you want to carry forward into the next year.
After you’ve gained some perspective about the past year, consider the possibilities for the coming year. Here are three questions that can help:
- What should we continue doing?
- What should we stop doing?
- What should we start doing?
Our women’s ministry team, processing these questions individually and as a group, has had some great conversations that helped to set our ministry agenda for the next 12 months.
Prioritize & Plan
Since you don’t have unlimited resources, determine which of these activities it makes sense to do, given your (or your ministry team’s) context, gifts, skills and resources. Which of these activities does God seem to be leading you toward more than others? Select one, two or three of these to prioritize for the coming year. List these goals as specifically as you can, and then begin to brainstorm specific steps that would help you make progress. Action plans will help you pursue each goal in reasonably-sized steps, avoiding paralysis and procrastination.
Persevere or Pivot
Goals can’t be accomplished without regular intention and investment. Carve out time once a month, and once a week, to review your goals and action steps. Determine what steps you can take that month, and from that, what steps you can take each week to persevere in the goals that have been set. Some goals may, in fact, be habits, disciplines or routines you want to establish. If so, determine their frequency and set up cues and times to check-in. As you move forward, leave room for the Lord to redirect you. Over time, you might feel led to focus on different areas of life and ministry. Or, perhaps you need to pivot from the original plan in order to move past roadblocks or take advantage of new opportunities. Ask the Lord for wisdom and guidance when plans need to be laid aside, when to pivot and when to persevere.
As you began, end your planning time in prayer in order to commit your way to the Lord, remembering Proverbs 3:5-6 to fully trust in the Lord and not lean on your own understanding. Committing our way to the Lord is a day-by-day, moment-by-moment endeavor.
There are a number of goal planning tools available for those who would like to dig deeper and dozens of approaches. Whatever your method, I encourage you to spend some time reflecting on what the Lord has done in your life and ministry over the past 12 months, giving thanks and gaining perspective. Then, commit your way to him as you enter this new year, trusting in him to direct your paths for his glory and your good.
We’d love to hear from you and how you plan for you women’s ministry.