“If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”
You’ve probably heard the saying “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”
This idea is reflected in proverb after proverb throughout God’s Word (Proverbs 15:22; 16:3; 9; 19:21; 20:18; 21:5) and has got to be one of the most important principles to live by in college ministry.
If you fail to get a plan of action for your college ministry, you might as well count on a mediocre or sad year.
The catalytic, fast paced nature of college campus life demands that we live several months ahead in our planning and thinking. You can’t hope to stumble upon a fruitful year without taking the time to strategize and organize.
Looking back over a year of regrets and missed opportunities can be avoided by simply taking some time during the summer to map out your strategy.
So, Where Do I Start?
The beginning stages of the preparation cycle of the ministry year can be summed up with the following three questions:
- Where are we going? (Vision)
- Where are we now? (Evaluation)
- What is the next step? (Application)
Where are we going? Vision
If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll never get there.
You must cultivate vision for the upcoming year or you’ll simply operate in response-mode all year and issue-manage your way through another semester.
In this Q & A session , Bill Hybels makes the case that the most important thing for a leader to have is vision.
As you approach this next year, you must determine where you see God taking your ministry. Do your best to brainstorm, dream, and pray about what God could do on your campus next year without getting bogged down in the details.
I commonly operate off of this definition of vision: “Vision is a clear picture of a future, desired result given by God to a servant leader based on a proper understanding of God, self, and the world.” (George Barna)
Sit down with a pen, paper, and your Bible and ask God to give you a clear picture of what He could accomplish this next year. This will get you excited for your next year in ministry!
Where are we now? Evaluation
Where is your ministry currently? How are things going?
If you want to make accurate plans for next year, you must begin with a thorough evaluation of last year. Asking some of the following questions will get you started down this road.
- What lessons did you learn about ministry, discipleship, evangelism, etc.?
- Who are the key students in your ministry?
- What are the greatest overall needs of your ministry right now?
- How are your key relationships on campus and in the community?
- What were some of the disappointments you experienced last year?
- What were some of the highlights?
- Where are some areas you could improve?
- Did you spend your time in the right places on campus?
- How did your major events and conferences go?
What is the next step? Application
After you’ve dreamed for the future and harnessed some of the lessons God taught you from your previous year of ministry, you then need to carefully and wisely attempt to respond to what you’ve learned and make the proper applications.
There are two major areas to which you should apply this knowledge: your major objectives/goals and your calendar of events.
Major objectives and goals
Based on what you know, what should be the major objectives and goals for your next year in ministry?
Our ministry always tries to come up with major goals within these 3 key areas:
Multiplication: Grow the Movement – The WHO, HOW, AND WHAT of building a campus movement. People are your currency in ministry. You must get a plan for what you are going to do to reach and grow them. If you aren’t doing this with your ministry, what are you doing?
Momentum: Fuel the Movement – The relational and spiritual excitement and energy around and in your ministry. Prayer, consistent evangelism, catalytic events, weekly meetings, retreats, and the like all contribute to the health and heat of your momentum. Although somewhat ambiguous and difficult to define, trust me. You know when you have momentum and when you don’t.
Management: Serve the Movement – Excellent management provides the structure and framework – tracks for a movement to run on and grow into. Without it, you can’t sustain a movement. You need to think through how you can create student ownership; what you need to plan, organize and communicate; and all of the other details of your ministry.
If you set major objectives and goals for the above areas and regularly evaluate how you are doing at achieving them throughout the year, you’ll be amazed at the answers to prayer you’ll start to see!
Calendar of Events
In my experience, if I do a lot of great evaluating and planning, but I never place my plans on my calendar or to-do list, they never make a difference.
We must carefully and intentionally place our major events and plans on our calendar so that they don’t get lost in the busyness of the year. Make sure you also look over your university calendar online and plan around those dates.
For instance, you won’t want to plan a major event on the same night as the opening home football game. Be strategic and wise in your calendar planning and you’ll thank yourself later.
Key Areas OF FOCUS
As you plan for the next year, below are a few key areas you will want to be sure to consider for your ministry:
- Where do we need to spend our time in personal ministry? (What are your ministry targets?)
- Who do we need to disciple this year?
- What does our discipleship group plan need to look like this year? Is there a book we should read? Which book of the bible should we study and/or verses should we memorize?
- What major events do we need to try to pull off? When and Why?
- What does our management structure need to look like for our events?
- Which students will be on our core/leadership team?
- Do we want to have a semester theme for our students to rally around?
Don’t let yourself play the victim here. Take some initiative and get a good plan for your next school year.
The beauty of your planning is that God will literally use it to change people’s eternities, send people to the nations, and receive glory for Himself.
Don’t miss out on these incredible opportunities by failing to plan!