Master Plans vs. Master’s Plan

A few years ago I wrote my first book entitled “Successful Masterplanning: More than pretty pictures”. The intent of the book was to  provide a 
comprehensive primer to guide church leaders through the myriad of details, processes, steps, and decisions that must be considered as part of a church building project. With more than twenty-six years of experience working with churches, ministries, and their leadership, I  address the issues churches must confront and the questions that must be answered at every critical step of the master planning process and facilities expansion project. It includes helpful information about topics such as land and site selection, zoning, funding and financing, the architectural review process, construction, and post-construction. Providing realistic and practical applications, Master Planning: More than Pretty Pictures communicates the importance of creating a master plan the right way. Crafted correctly, a solid master plan can bring unity, a renewed sense of purpose, and financial stability to the church.

Since that time I have been exposed to expanded thoughts on the topic of master planning.  In fact, I believe there are 4 “master plans” a church should be developing constantly:

  1. Ministry master plan…some might call this a strategic plan….or vision plan or other similar terms….but it defines who you are as a church, why you exist and your vision for reaching the target market God has given you.
  2.  A Financial master plan…how do you fund the ministry master plan.  How do you pay for staff, resources, initiatives, and sometimes facilities.  What is the plan to develop a culture of generosity?
  3. Facility master plan…what physical facilities are needed to meet the above ministry plan…and this does not just mean pretty pictures or facilities that you build.  It can be a master plan strategy for leasing/buying urban and historic churches like Mars Hill is doing or possibly identifying schools or “big box” locations to rent.
  4. An  Operational master plan…how will you care for all of the resources God has entrusted to you, including facilities?

As I am sure you can tell….I like structure and plans.  I like to know what the “plan” is for the day…the week…the month…the year. I like organization and setting metrics you can measure…like in a plan.  But the other day I was in a meeting with Mel McGowan, the president of Visioneering Studios, in our SoCal office. We were meeting with a church that has asked us to lead them in developing several of the above plans.  We were discussing how things change and how sometimes we, as church leaders (i.e. humans) focus too much on our “master plans” and not the “Master’s Plan.” BOOM!  Right between the eyes. What a different in the meaning of the same words, just move the “s” from one word to the other. This is not a foreign concept to me or one that I do not embrace…but putting it in those terms really hit home for me.

So here is my advice…you still need to develop all 4 of the above tangible master plans…and there may be others…but seek the Master and HIS plan at every step and with every decision.  I assure you that all of your other plans will be more successful if we look for the Master’s Plan.