I really like strategic thinking. I like systems. I like planning. But when it comes to starting our Neepawa church, I still don't know what I'm doing.
I mean, I have a general plan of attack. I have strategically thought out a lot of our plan for launching this church, but ultimately, all of my plans were made in a vacuum with no real world experience of doing something like this.
Most - if not all of our plans - were made before we even moved to Neepawa. We didn't know the people, the culture, the other churches, the history or stories of the town or its residents. Now that we've moved here, I'm realizing that the plans that we had drawn up needed to be more like guidelines instead of a firm plan.
I also underestimated the emotional energy output required in this move. I look back on some of my notes of the plans I "should" be doing by now, and I just don't even have any of the brain space to pull them off. The plans needed to rest for a while... just like me. I have a finite amount of time and energy and I need to focus them on relationships.
One of the downsides of any strategic planning is that it totally leaves out the relational dynamic of a new pastor coming into a small town. My default is to plan and execute, with little time for the relational components involved in the plans. I can be laser-focused at times (which can be good), but I am learning that my laser-focus on tasks needs to transition to be more of a flood-light focus to include an emphasis on relationships.
Some people reading this won't understand this realization I've come across. For them, a full day of coffee dates with new people, lunches out and spending time with others is just common sense. I do like doing those things, too, but on a much smaller scale. I'm learning to increase my capacity in this way.
Instead of a list of firm things that we will do by a certain date, I am shifting my focus to be more about a list of flexible goals and guiding principles as we move towards our launch date this fall.
For instance, a couple of these guiding principles are:
The last thing we want to do is act and believe that we are the saviours of the town. It sounds silly to say it, but I need to say it constantly to myself: "there have been faithful Christians in this town seeking to follow Jesus and see others transformed by the Gospel longer than I've been alive. I must honour them and not dismiss them with my attitude/actions."
We still have some plans for the summer and a rough timeline of what we're going to do, but it is much more flexible than it was before. If you're planning on launching a new church, in a new community, strategize and plan but hold those plans loosely.
I am a pastor in rural Manitoba that is passionate about the church, leadership, coffee and bicycles.