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I am excited to announce the release of my latest book, published by Rainer Publishing – PLAN 4 IT: The Essential Master Plans for Every Church.
I can hear you now…“He has lost his mind!!! Why would a church need 4 master plans? We had a tough enough time just getting one completed.”
I assure you, I have never been more coherent and clear thinking than I am about this topic and the essential…may I say mandatory…need for 4 master plans. Let me explain.
First, we must define “master plan”. Here is what I believe is the best and most concise definition: a vision of the future, beginning with today’s realities. That may sound overly simplistic, but that is the true essence of what a (any) master plan really is. Did you noticed that is did not say anything about a piece of property or buildings or parking lots or any other physical attribute?
Do you remember this interchange between Alice and the Cheshire Cat in “Alice In Wonderland”:
“Would you tell me which way I ought to go from here?” asked Alice. “That depends a good deal on where you want to get,” said the Cat.
“I really don’t care where,” replied Alice.
“Then it doesn’t much matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
Not having a “vision of the future” will leave you in the same predicament as Alice…no direction…no clear reason why you are going anywhere…just going somewhere because you can. That is why this “facility guy” is emphatic that master planning is a 4 pronged process and that NONE of them can be eliminated…at least not if you intend to have a successful process.
Here are the 4 essential master plans:
- Ministry Master Plan
- Financial Master Plan
- Facility Master Plan
- Sustaining Master Plan
I will not spoil your reading of the book, but let me give you a very brief explanation of each:
MINISTRY MASTER PLAN: This is the ﬁrst, and most crucial, part of the master planning process: the exploration and discovery of philosophies, concepts, stories, and cultural context through intentional research. We have to start from the inside out. It is the plan that helps identify the who (we are), the why (we do what we do) and the how (we do ministry).
To skip over this process of ministry master planning is like getting the GO TO JAIL card playing Monopoly. You do not pass go; you do not collect $200. This step is the foundation of the rest of the processes. Avoiding the Ministry Master Plan will leave the other three plans on unstable ground.
FINANCIAL MASTER PLAN: Once you have developed your ministry master plan, you need to determine the financial feasibility of the short-term initiatives and long-term vision. What is needed to fulfill the ministry master plan from a payroll perspective? How will it impact the budget? Is the ministry master plan financially sustainable? Are facilities required to meet the plan? If so, given our financial status, what can the church afford?
The tendency is to go straight to the physical facility planning after the Ministry Master Plan is completed, but this second step is critically important. Without the perspective of the Financial Master Plan, your facility master plan could be dead in the water. While dreaming big and having a God-sized plan are important, financial prudence is also a biblical part of this process. If you only give stewardship lip service, then you will have plans and pretty pictures that never become reality
FACILITY MASTER PLAN: This is generally the phase that people immediate jump to when thinking about master planning…but it can not be elevated to the first or second step in the process. There is ample time to develop pretty pictures, floor plans, site plans and 3D video. Plan 4 It has an extensive section dedicated to this phase of the master plan, so I will not elaborate further.
SUSTAINING MASTER PLAN: The fourth master plan is one that most churches fail to consider, even though it is the most costly stage in the life cycle of any facility. In most circles, the term “life cycle” is related to the longevity or life expectancy of a physical element, such as our ministry facilities. It is also used in referring to processes, systems, and research.
While I believe that understanding and developing proactive initiatives is a critical component of the master planning process, we may be better served to think of a term that is more encompassing than simply a life cycle. The word sustaining is a better word to describe the real need and meaning of the fourth master plan. Let’s look at how the dictionary describes both terms:
Life Cycle: a series of stages through which something (as an individual, culture, or manufactured product) passes during its lifetime
Sustaining: to provide what is needed for something or someone to exist and to continue to exist.
The above definition of life cycle would imply a specific duration or “lifetime.” Something that has a prescribed time frame for its existence and function. Sustaining, on the other hand, carries the meaning of continuance, without an end in mind. I believe that for our discussion, both concepts are needed and, in fact, mandatory. We must have a plan to sustain our ministries, finances and facilities. The Sustaining Master Plan actually under-girds the 3 prior master plans.
That is just a highlight of the content of Plan 4 It…so get your copy and be a planning superstar for your church and PLAN 4 IT.