Neither my wife nor I are morning persons. We get up, but it is usually really slow going. When my daughter was two we moved her out of her baby bed and at first she would wander down the hall into our room at all hours of the night. We came up with a plan. Every night we would put her to bed and tell her that she needed to stay there until the sun came up. Shortly thereafter, she wandered into our bedroom at daybreak and announced as loud as she could, “THE SUN IS UP! Careful what you wish for!
We often make plans that seem logical to us when we make them, only to find out that when they are enacted they leave something to be desired. Flawed results don’t often come from a perfect plan. Most often, flawed results follow a flawed plan.
For most of the last 20 years that I have been in ministry I have witnessed churches and denominations (mine included) keep trying to get better results from a flawed plan. That plan has led us to believe things like: “if we build it they will come,” “bigger is better,” and that the way to “save our church” is to invest in the structures and decisions that got us into this mess in the first place. The plan—the same one we have been working for 50 years—is flawed. Jesus had a simple plan and he laid it out for his disciples. Remain in me (John 15:1-15); bear fruit (John 15:16); love one another (John 15:17); under the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit tell others about me as those who know me best (John 15:26-27).
Now I am sure that when our denominational plans were first articulated they aimed at just these things. But over the years, the have ceased to be the means to the end and have become the end themselves. If any local congregation or any denomination seeks to remain vibrant, its plan must simply be Jesus’ plan—everything else is flawed—and the results will show it. God has a plan for His Church; a good plan for fruitfulness. But we have to follow his map to that destination—not ours. The flaw in our plan is often that we want to arrive at God’s blessed destination while following our selfishly designed road map. When we give up our plan for God’s we find that we not only get what we wished for…we get what we needed, AND God’s purposes in the world get accomplished.