December 17, 2009

More on Developing a New Year Planner

Written By Cary Schmidt

Thank you for responding to the article on the contents of a new year planner! Many of you have emailed and asked for the sample planner mentioned at the end of the article. In finalizing my planner the past couple days, I’ve decided to do two more articles related to planning the new year. This one focuses on some general thoughts about the philosophy of a planner. As you assemble a plan, consider the following:

1. It should reflect a biblical philosophy of life and ministry—Behind your planner should be a very focused philosophy of ministry, and the planner should simply be a tool of making it a reality. For instance, our student ministry is highly personal, highly biblical, and highly integrated into our entire church program. It is not a stand-alone entity. Therefore our student ministry planner reflects one-on-one ministry, plenty of Bible teaching, and student involvement in the whole church program.

2. It should be unique to your life and ministry—Every family and ministry is different. Every pastor has a unique vision. Not everything that works for another church will work for you. Your planner shouldn’t necessarily be a blueprint taken from other ministries. It should be a road-map for your own church.

3. It will not be exhaustive—No matter how hard you try, you just can’t plan many things! Probably more than 50% of ministry cannot be planned because it is in response to the needs of people, or the assignments given to you. Most of ministry is organic and dynamic—about relationships which are alive, growing, and always changing. One primary point of developing a planner is so that the things that can be planned ahead, are, so there’s greater flexibility to respond to things that cannot be planned.

3. It is not an end in itself—A planner must be put into action, or there’s no real sense in making one. Every detail listed  in the planner should be placed into a computer program or daily organizer (on the day) and then lived by. (I will detail this in the next article.)

4. It must be flexible—Realistically, not everything you put in your planner will happen. Every year I look back at the previous year’s planner and find things that didn’t get done. Sometimes the plan changed. Sometimes higher priorities took over. Sometimes a project or goal is moved to the following year. And sometimes, even more was done than the planner indicated. The point is, a lot more will get done because you planned ahead. Don’t expect 100% completion, but choose to rejoice in the progress.

5. It should require a team—A good planner contains more than one person can accomplish. Don’t merely focus on planning for yourself. Let God expand your vision so that it requires you to enlist and train a ministry team to help make it happen.

6. It should reflect balance—The only way to find balance is to plan it. Without looking ahead and staying focused on the long-term, we get way off balance. One of the best reasons to develop a new year planner is that you can, with God’s help, envision doing the things He calls you to do in a way that is synergistic and effective—balanced! The heat of the battle is not the time to find balance. If you have a busy life, balance must be worked into the calendar beforethe year begins. This is about the only way to insure both sanity and productivityin the new year. (For more on this read Thoughts On Planning the New Year.)

Up to this point the topic has been simply putting the plan together. The best part of a ministry planner is implementing it into your daily system and routines so that you can maximize your efficiency in life. There are some very specific ways to do that. We will explore this in the next article!

I’m missing something, so that’s where you come in! What are your thoughts about planning the new year? What works for you?