One of my hallmarks of a healthy small group is Goals and Plans: The group has a written “Action Plan” that includes a mission, goals, expectations, ground rules, etc. I’ve written about goals, plans, wins, and intentionality often in my posts at www.smallgroupleadership.blogspot.com. (Go there and see labels for “goals and plans,” “group health,” “intentional,” and “win.”) Obviously, I believe in the importance of a group having goals and plans. I’ve seen vivid evidence in the small groups at our church who developed goals and plans that lead to health, spiritual and numerical growth, and leadership development and deployment.
The other day, however, I began to question this value.
In their book, A God-Centered Church, Henry and Melvin Blackaby say that setting goals “comes straight from the world and the culture around us.” OK, so that sentence jumped off the page and got my attention!
The authors go on to say, “As servants of the most high God, we don’t have the right to determine the direction of our lives or our church. God alone sets the purposes, objectives, and goals for His people.”
Does this fly in the face for you, your group, and your church? Should you stop setting goals and making plans? Well … yes and no.
I see plenty of Biblical support for making plans and setting goals:
- “May [God] grant your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans” (Psalm 20:4).
- “Wise planning will watch over you. Understanding will keep you safe” (Proverbs 2:11).
- “Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5).
- “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).
The issue is not whether we should or should not set goals or make plans; the issue is whose goals and plans!
- “The Lord foils the plans of the nations; he thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, purposes of his heart through all generations” (Psalm 33:10-11).
- “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and your plans will succeed” (Proverbs 16:3).
- “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails” (Proverbs 19:21).
- “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?” (Galatians 3:3).
Several pages later in their book, the Blackabys say, “Instead of asking, ‘What should we do this year?’ we need to ask:
- What is God doing this year, and how can we join Him?
- What adjustments do we need to make in our lives in order to fulfill God’s purposes for us?
- What does God want to accomplish in and through our lives this year?
- What has He been saying to us as a church [or small group or team] that we must carefully obey?”
I put these questions in a bullet list because I believe these are GREAT questions to ask your small group, ministry team, or leadership team.
Leading a small group–or anything in the church–from the Heart starts with the idea that we exist and gather in HIS presence under HIS power and authority for HIS purposes … not our own.
How are you developing goals and plans in your group or team? Bathe the process in prayer and lots of listening. Ask the questions, above, and use them to shape the direction of God’s group that He has entrusted to you.