I once read a statement by Warren Bennis that “the curse of our generation is short-term thinking.” His point was that leaders need to think long-term and plan ahead.
I came across a similar statement by William Vanderbloemen and Warren Bird in their book, Next: Pastoral Succession that Works.
Looking ahead is one of the most difficult tasks people face. Auto accidents happen too often because drivers aren’t looking down the road. Businesses fail because they don’t anticipate changes in technology or customers’ felt needs. But leaders who look way down the road come out winners more often than not. Ask great golfers why they hit their drive in a certain direction, and they will tell you it was in preparation for the next three shots. Watch a great chess master play, and you’re bound to see a player who is studying the board for possibilities four or five moves ahead. Anticipating what’s next may be difficult, but the payoff is huge. As hockey star Wayne Gretzky often said, “I don’t go to where the puck is; I go to where it’s headed next.”
The same is true for churches. No church is guaranteed to last forever… Sometimes, the end of a church’s life is inevitable. But we believe that if churches and pastors will enter their chapter of ministry thinking about and planning for multiple generations of health, the life span of congregations will lengthen and the kingdom of God will be the better for it.