Sarah Drummond writing for Alban Institute wonders if planning can leave room for the Spirit:
Is ministry really all about programs? Is that all there is to life in a faith community, one program after another? In one sense, ministry is all about programs. In another sense, it has nothing to do with programs. On the one hand, program infrastructures are things that lack any inherent agenda or power unto themselves. On the other hand, programs can either further a faith community’s vision or fail to do so. For example, when leaders in a religiously based food program transform an informal vegetable-garden swap into a funded, formal outreach initiative, the swap program can grow and improve. By adding structure and resources, the swap program may further the faith community’s vision, but it also creates the need for planning, oversight, and continued attention.
There is much truth in the aphorism, “To fail to plan is to plan to fail.” However, leaders who press the importance of planning run three risks:
1. Their constituents cast them as controlling and uncaring about the role of the Holy Spirit.
2. They can miss out on new opportunities by over structuring the organization’s plan.
3. Constituents in religious organizations can be quick to accuse their leaders of being too corporate-minded.
In my experience, five attributes of program initiatives can enable us to remain open to the work of the Spirit, rather than creating programs that are over structured and leader controlled. These attributes help distinguish ministry programs from programs in a secular setting, as they both make programs transformative and create space for God to work through the program. When leaders take these attributes into consideration, they can serve as life-giving catalysts for programs in religious organizations...