Monday, March 09, 2009

Freedom of planning

In my mind, one of the most compelling things about having a church plan is the freedom that comes from not having to make decisions. That may sound odd, because after all the process of planning is positively rife with decisions that must be made: decisions of policy, decisions of practice, decisions of implementation and process. Many, many decisions must be made, so why do I say that it’s the freedom from decisions that I enjoy so much?
Let me explain: each one of us lives with a filter that regulates the amount of sensory data that we absorb. Major things like a hand on a hot stove or the pained cry of your own child are routed through that filter with top priority. Minor things like the white noise of a fan or the constant barrage of billboards are filtered out and relegated to a much lower status. With the near-constant stream of information the modern American is faced with every single day, without a filter the mind would be overwhelmed within minutes of waking up in the morning.
Depending upon what’s important in your life, your filter is preset (by your nature, your personality, your upbringing, your religion, etc.) to be triggered by things that you consider important and file away mostly everything else. This is why I—as an admitted geek—might notice a news story on a new smartphone or other piece of gadgetry, but my wife might filter out the same story and instead notice one on the challenges of homeschooling. The filter prevents us from having to make thousands of constant “Is this important?” decisions throughout the day, because we have already made one large decision: to preset our filters for what matters to us.
This is what’s so great about a plan! A plan is like a filter, only for a church instead of an individual. In a plan, we do the hard, hard work of deciding ahead of time what will be important and, in a sense, pre-set the organization’s filters to pay attention to those particular things. Which, in turn, then gives the church a marvelous amount of freedom because it no longer has to occupy itself with endless “Is this important to us?” questions because it already has a plan. It already has focus. It already has clarity. It already has decided what’s important, and can focus on doing those things.
That’s the kind of freedom that I really like: the freedom to act on what’s important.

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