October 06, 2009

Some Pastoral Reflections on Planning (and Its Opposite)

by Mike Bowling
Some Christians are reluctant to talk about the future. While there may be 'biblical' reasons for it, that reluctance can have a destructive effect on our life together in Christ as the Church.

Whether it is the cumulative effect of misreading numerous Scriptures or an over-reaction to those who plan in arrogance and rigidity, the simple fact is that planning is an important part of all sustained work. Too many read Jesus' words " not be anxious about tomorrow" as "anti-planning" Scriptures, when Jesus was simply teaching that in God's kingdom we can trust in God's ultimate provision. Or, anti-planners like to reference James 4:13-17, which is more a cautionary note for those who trust in their wealth and their ability to produce wealth.

Of course, compulsive planners misuse Scriptures in similar ways. Who hasn't heard Jesus' words concerning the radical nature of discipleship twisted into an admonition concerning "sensible" financial/planning?

Everyone plans! The question is on what basis do we plan? Here are my assumptions for faithful planning as the church:

(1) I assume God is up to something which God alone knows exactly what the end will look like.

(2) I assume God has not only invited the Church into the Divine mission; God has also supplied for us in Christ to be participants.

(3) I assume God has made known in Christ the particular role of the church in God's plan (see Eph. 3:18-21).

Planning which ignores these assumptions is presumption of a risky kind, but failure to plan is its own kind of presumption, and may be a sign of lack of commitment, resistance to accountability or just plain laziness. Failure to plan may also be a sign of confusion or a fear of failure. All of the preceding call for careful instruction and difficult conversations.

1 comment:

-j. said...

The issue isn't planning itself, but whether our plans remain open to revision. If our purpose is true, then our plans for achieving that purpose must allow for a change of course.