An acquaintance was recently asked to lead a committee charged with producing a five-year plan for his Lutheran church. He searched the New Testament but found nothing about long-range planning. My own investigation yielded the same results. Throughout the Gospels, for example, Jesus simply goes about doing the Father’s will. Jesus’ miracles and parables, his encounters and teachings, occur almost incidentally. “As he was going along,” the Gospel writers will say, “a certain woman came to Jesus” — and the next thing we know something happens about which we still read and talk 2,000 years later.
The same is true in Acts. Luke does not record one single planning session regarding evangelism. The early disciples are praying and waiting when Pentecost happens. Peter and John are walking to the Temple for regular prayer when they meet — and heal — a lame man. They are called into account, so they tell their questioners about Jesus. Persecution scatters the believers, and some go to Samaria. Phillip preaches there until the Spirit sends him into the desert where he meets the Ethiopian. Peter is praying when the Holy Spirit sends him to Cornelius’ house. The Antioch leadership team are in prayer when the Holy Spirit tells them to “separate Barnabas and Saul” for a special assignment which we now call the First Missionary Journey. And so the story goes.
Perhaps there is a place in church for human wisdom and long-range planning, for budgets and business meetings and strategy sessions. But God’s work certainly doesn’t depend on them. Too often, our own ideas become confused with God’s agenda, and our own plans and proposals simply blind us to the higher purposes of heaven. Perhaps we ought instead to spend our time seeking God’s will, waiting on his guidance, praying for his enabling, surrendering to his leading, following his direction, and walking in the Spirit. We pray, “Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory.” This is God’s thing. He has to make it happen. And he gets all the credit.