by Jor-El Godsey, Heartbeat International Vice President, Ministry Services
(from Take Heart Volume 2, Issue 1)
A year ending with a zero is a great time to look back at the last time that occurred – 2000 – the unforgettable “Y2K.” Think of all that’s transpired in your organization since 2000. Remember where you were during the dawn of the new millennium. Take note of how different the ministry, the movement, and even the mission appeared to be then. The look back can reveal a journey of challenges and triumphs, victories and setbacks, celebrations and sorrow.
Here’s a question: from the vantage point of 2000, what view did you see out there on the 2010 horizon? What decisions made then are producing dynamic results now for you, your mission, and the movement? What plans were set down then but have yet to come to fruition? How is 2010 different for your community, your peer counseling, and your commitment to the mission?
This year of 2010 is a good time to look forward to the next ten years and begin to develop a “2020 Vision.” Crafting and casting a vision with the year 2020 in mind can help leaders to see beyond the tyranny of the urgent and formulate a vivid picture that can serve to guide the organization well. In clarifying your “2020 Vision,” there are five key concepts to consider:
- Positioning versus Planning – “To fail to plan is to plan to fail.” The saying holds true for short-range (one to three-year) planning but can break down over a longer period. Pull out your written plans from 2000. How do the plans from 2000 match the 2010 reality? Of course, planning is simply not possible for some things. A worldwide economic downturn was hardly on anyone’s radar looking back just to 2005 or 2006. But those who positioned themselves well financially (a success that involves -- at the least -- some core planning)– with reserve funds, low or no debt, broad donor base and/or conservative budgeting – have had more leeway to adapt to financial crisis. True, perfect planning requires perfect predictions so only God’s Plan is perfect. Still, good positioning financially, organizationally, relationally, and spiritually can enable positive results even in unexpected environments.
- Message versus Method – In 2000, communication methods like I-Pod, Youtube, and Facebook didn’t exist. Today, the methods for marketing and ministry must adapt to account for changes in our target audiences and the culture that influences them. In the midst of these changing methods, the message of pregnancy help work remains constant (even eternal): Christ-centered, compassionate, life-affirming care for those who are challenged by an unintended pregnancy. This core message is carrying the pregnancy help movement to new heights of acceptance even outside the pro-life realm. Our opposition’s deployment of legislative maneuvers and slanderous attacks reveals how effective our message (with varying methods) has been.
- Discerning versus Deciding – Any look ahead must involve spiritual discernment. Pregnancy help work is hard. In fact, this work takes more than what we bring to it. It requires the help of the One who called us to it. We desperately need the active involvement of the Holy Spirit in every aspect of the work – especially looking ahead. Prayer – personal and corporate – is a necessary action item to discern what 2020 will look like for the organization including those who lead the mission and fulfill it.
- Innovation versus Insulation – A glance back 30+ years shows how much the pregnancy help ministry has grown and changed. Innovation and entrepreneurship were hallmarks of the pioneers who have labored to advance this work. External and internal challenges tempt us to insulate against uncomfortable changes, entice us to formalize the familiar, and lure us to scoff at anything that’s not “the way we’ve always done it.” Over emphasis on “playing it safe” with static processes, antiquated tools, and outdated methods will not serve a mission that faces dynamic transition. Good practices are a “must.” Reliance on stale practices can make us too soon obsolete. Finding the right balance of the tried, the true, and the new is truly a gift from the Holy Spirit.
- Leadership versus Management – The mission continues to require leadership at every level and in every aspect. Leadership is different from management. While management is necessary for efficiency, leadership is critical for effectiveness. The pregnancy help movement will see major transitions in leadership over the next ten years. (Yes, even more change than we’ve already seen.) Leaders must nurture leadership in others and try to prepare others to hear the call of God to service. We nurture leadership in others by the example of our own stewardship, the practice of Christian principles, and intentionally mentoring the next generation of leaders. A vivid “2020 Vision” will require new leaders, along with managers, to push the envelope, deepen the impact, and maximize ministry.
As your 2010 unfolds, take time to plan a “2020 Vision” session. Whether in a dedicated meeting of a few hours or a discussion that unfolds over many months, the important thing is to take the time. Take time to sow seed that will flourish for those who will take up the mantle in 2020. Your decisions today will be their harvest then, so take the long view.