Strategy. It’s a thing. It’s a church thing. It’s a very profitable church thing if you write about it. And it is a biblical thing.
Every church has a strategy. It may not every good. It may not be articulated very well. It may not even be one cohesive strategy. It may not fit with God’s strategy. But every church has a strategy that drives and determines what it does. Some churches don’t have their own strategy but borrow someone else, or whichever one seems be on trend or working somewhere else. Some strategies seem a bit like throwing mud at a wall and hoping it sticks. Others seem like professionalism is the thing God delights in. But isn’t God’s strategy all about people?
We need to contextualise our strategy and that starts with and never moves on from people. How you reach the lost with the gospel depends on who you are trying to reach. How you disciple people with the gospel depends on who you are trying to disciple. The early church got this, Peter and Paul got this but I wonder if we keep forgetting this.
Our strategy will need to be different in different places, amongst people of different educations and backgrounds, and in different areas. In fact it will need to be different even within those groups. No group is homogenous. A group is composed of individual people, each wired in different ways. And so maybe its wrong to talk of one strategy.
I’ve found increasingly here it is just about people, it is about time, and it is about combining the two over a prolonged period of committed care. For example yesterday I was chatting to a lady I’ve known for years, who has in the past shared certain issues and struggles with me. I promised to pray for her and kept touching base with her from time to time. Yesterday we were chatting and she shared how there had been massive breakthrough, I simply said that was great as I’d been praying for those things repeatedly in the years since she’d shared it.
It wasn’t a Saul of Tarsus moment, there was no blinding light, there was no sudden conversion but there was a thank you and an openness to the fact that prayer had played a part in the change. That small step has taken a long time. Many of the people I’ve had opportunities with and some good gospel conversations with over the last year are the result of committed relationships and care over the last 12-13 years.
In our busy busy, diarised culture in the church too often we miss this. So what would it look like to build in much more time for people into your week. Being with them, hanging out with them, chatting, caring, and committing for the long term. I’m encouraged when I read the gospels and see that is Jesus strategy too, time spent with people, often unhurried, often as his disciples want to chivvy him along to the next thing.