I have a confession: I’m a chronic planner. Weeks before I go on a road trip vacation with the family, I map out the route, estimate the travel time, calculate the cost of gas, and even schedule the “spontaneous” stops. This proclivity also carries over into other aspects of my life, which is why I’m so passionate about budgeting. As John Maxwell puts it, a budget is simply a plan that tells money where to go instead of wondering where it went. But what happens when a planner (that’s me) works with a group of people not accustomed to planning? Well, I cannot speak for the non-planners, but for me, it creates tension and, at times, anxiety.
Until 2006, I spent my career in the corporate world, where planning is essential. There were always multiple projects happening simultaneously that crossed departmental and functional lines. Without planning and clear communication, chaos would reign, bringing with it a potentially devastating negative impact on the organization. Some weeks, I spent more time in meetings than at my desk. Entering into the world of ministry was a culture shock for me; teams routinely missed deadlines, spontaneous events popped up, requiring unscheduled labor hours, and the list goes on. I wanted to help without killing creativity on the team and still allowing room for the Spirit to lead.
Planning is Biblical
The first hurdle I had to overcome was my own – was I being too rigid or even unbiblical trying to put structure and planning around church events? I started by searching for wisdom and went to the book of Proverbs and found several verses that confirm that seeking God’s will and planning is considered wise (Proverbs 15:22, Proverbs 16:3, Proverbs 16:9). The more I thought about it, the entire Bible reveals that God is a planner. It started at creation, which took a tremendous amount of planning, and continues throughout scripture as God reveals his plan for reconciliation. God often provides detailed instructions (plans) to Moses, Joshua, David, etc. In the Gospel of Matthew, we learn that Jesus had a plan for the disciples to carry on the mission after his resurrection. Since planning is biblical, I needed a way to help the non-planners in a grace-filled way that promotes unity.
As the Executive Pastor of Operations, I have one foot on the ministry side of the organizational chart and the other in operations. I need to ensure the facility is ready for every event and keep labor costs aligned with the budget. Unplanned or poorly planned events created frustration with the operations team, putting them in a reactive position, often leading to overtime and duplication of effort. It also frustrated the ministry teams as they needed to jump in to set up and clean up rooms when the facility team was unavailable. Sometimes, we need a reminder that we’re on the same team working toward the same mission – the one Jesus laid out for us in Matthew 28. We needed a way to plan for upcoming events with cross-functional impact.
The Quarterly Logistics Meeting
I admit it; naming a meeting “The Quarterly Logistics Meeting” sounds very corporate, but that was the point. This meeting was not the place to dream up new ways to accomplish the church’s mission; it ensured the allocation of resources for the event. This meeting is a way to see Proverbs 15:22 come alive, “Without consultation, plans are frustrated, But with many counselors they succeed.” Here’s what a quarterly logistics meeting looks like:
- The meeting takes place one month before the next quarter starts. For example, meet in September to plan for Oct., Nov., and Dec.
- All events for the upcoming quarter must be identified and submitted before the meeting. Most churches with a facility have a system to reserve a room or resource to avoid conflicts. Everything for the upcoming quarter must be in the system. This meeting is not the time or place to create or dream up new events; it’s to plan existing and established events.
- Invite all stakeholders; this is a cross-functional meeting.
- All stakeholders must come prepared. The person leading the meeting must bring an agenda and keep the discussion moving, resolving details in separate meetings with those impacted. Ministry teams must fully disclose all aspects of the event, and operations must plan or adjust plans to accommodate the event. For example, if a bathroom remodel is scheduled on the same day as an event, does that event require using that bathroom?
- Promote a spirit of unity. Work together to resolve conflicts.
- Wrap up the meeting by reviewing action items, deadlines, and who owns them. And, of course, pray!
“The mind of a person plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” ~Proverbs 16:9. A logistics meeting is a way to plan, and planning is biblical, but it’s just a plan. Allow room for pivots and shifts and for the Lord to direct your steps.short url: