You have to get past the race from Sunday to Sunday and from program year to program year. If you don’t know where you’re heading, how can you actually lead?
If you haven’t heard of 5-year plans before, they are basically what they sound like: long term goals and plans. The idea is basically that you need long term destinations so you know where you’d like to drive your car on the journey of life. Many of us already plan in one year additions. What are my goals for this program year? What money do we need to raise this fiscal year?
As we know many of the things we want to build take a lot longer than one year. Any successful new program in the parish needs more than a year. If someone is writing a book, it could take more than a year. Even learning a completely new skill, depending on the skill and your ability for it, but most complicated skills take a long time to acquire. A 5-year plan helps you put those ideas into perspective and gives you the space you need to dream.
Many may ask why 5 years? I don’t think 5 years is a dreamlike time period. Some parishioners may think it would rather be about a 3 years stretch, and I think that’s good too. The important thing is having a time period that encourages us to think well for the future and get comfortable with unpredictability. It also needs to be short enough for us to.
When we look at the 5 year plan we need to look what we what to improve, develop or grow. We also need to work backwards from our goal to make an action plan. As a parish priest together with the Parish Pastoral Council we have to think about the possibilities in our programs and then develop plans to achieve them.
At this stage we have categorize our goals into ones that can be achievable, and ones we can’t. These set of goals have been built upon the Parish Renewal document which the Archdiocese has set before us during Archbishop Wilson. These goals were set upon the final report we have received after our parish visitation back in March 2019. We cannot wait to see whatever comes out of the Diocese Assembly, once the Archdiocese sets its new guidelines, than we amalgamate both the Parish Renewal document and the new guidelines in our plans
The great thing about 5-year plans is that they are short enough to see the steps we need to take to make our plans reality. We need to work backwards. One of my long term goals is evangelisation. So we commenced the Faith and Formation team. We meet each month and down the road we hope that this result in a thriving group and this experience will contribute to start the Alpha Course as part of the future evangelisation. We need to work backwards otherwise our day-to-day work might never amount to more than the sum of its parts. To build something, you have to know what you’re building. That said, routines and incremental improvements are powerful tools. Most of the programs we build rely on doing the daily work, over weeks, months, and years.
Having 5-year plans helps us know what daily work to do.
However, we need to keep in mind that most of these plans – though effectively will be articulated, must never lose sight of an important question: Where is God in all this? We need to ask ourselves what are our five-year plans made of. Are they more on human concern with the mistake of leaving out the presence of God? Making our parish a better place or making our own narrow world a better place? Addressing the feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, and anger that drive so many people into darkness or to take us away from secularism and materialism? It’s important to look not only at our parish concerns but also at the Lord’s. Do the plans for our days in 2021 match up with those of God? How can God use us?
We need to focus and always put God in what we are doing so to discover the people around us and what is God doing in their lives and be involved in Church. Whatever our plans are we need to be careful as they could be well intentioned but also to achieve what God has in mind. We need to keep asking during our planning for the next five years “God what is you plan, and how can we help?”