George R. Packard and Wanda Lundy led a lively session on “Prophetic Planning: Collaborative Discernment and Consensus in a Context of Strategic Prophesy and Evangelism” here at the 2009 National Multicultural Conference, during the inaugural Big Tent event June 11-13.
Packard — who’s a facilitator, trainer, and consultant with Bridging Futures LLC of Santa Fe, New Mexico — says it all comes down to an initial focusing question: “What do we need to do to enable this congregation to care for and be the agent of change in this part of the world?”
The starting place is prayer, he said. “The first thing is to build consensus around what your intentions are,” said Packard. “If I were going to substitute a word for consensus, it would be prayer. When we pray we are infused with God’s intention. The more we pray with our own intentions, interacting with the Holy Spirit, the more we become infused with God’s will.”
He added: “Whenever you start to think it’s your plan, it’s time to get your ‘obedience costume’ on.”
Many churches are experts at short-term project planning, Packard acknowledged. But groups also need long range vision planning.
Once the central focus that brings a group together is established, it’s time to get down to the nitty-gritty of planning. One helpful technique is to brainstorm plans using the “SWOT” method — identifying strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Strategic planning permits groups to quit “wallowing in despair,” Packard said, and focus on resolving obstacles so vision can be realized.
Erin Cox-Holmes is associate general presbyter for Kiskiminetas Presbytery and a frequent contributor to Presbyterian News Service.