Planning has become an integral part of many individuals and corporate organizations. There is an age-long proverb that whosoever fails to plan has planned to fail. So it is a common thing to hear or see people make resolutions and New Year plans. However, it is needful to know types of planning that could be of help to an individual or an organization. This is the goal of this write-up.
Planning can be divided into two; these are short-term and long-term planning. By this, it has been discovered that many churches that care to plan are limiting their plans to day-to-day or at best a month-to-month planning. They never thought of transplanting the plans to a long-range one whereby they could look forward to what the Church would look like in five or ten years’ time.

Defining Short and Long Term Planning

Long range planning helps define where a business wishes to go, and often prepares a company for change (http://related.wisegeek.com/related). It is what you plan to achieve or do in your own perceived long duration of time. Whereas, short-term plan is something you plan to achieve or do in your own perceived short duration of time.
Furthermore, “Long-range planning is assumed when an organization looks beyond the ‘immediate future’ thereby getting the picture of market condition around and for businesses, it involves ‘identifying areas of expansion, new locations, and anticipating what competition may do over a long period of time” (http://related.wisegeek.com/related).
Long range planning for governments, often includes developing a capital improvement plan for buildings and infrastructure, and zoning considerations. While there is no fixed stipulated difference between a long-term and a short time plan, long-term planning could be done in more than twelve (12) months. Gangel, (1989:101) differentiates between the two when he sees “short- range planning as being anything up to a year and long-range planning any time period beyond that.” He posits that many Churches need to start with a one-year plan, work up to multiple years then work on a five-year plan at the least which may be subject to a yearly review.

The following may be considered as long-range planning: For businesses, money set aside for new location by chain stores and restaurants when there is no specific project in mind. Also, money set aside for specific project over a number of years. For governments, different factors aimed at progress for a community; e.g in transportation which may involve ‘planning for roads, municipal transit systems, airport and or seaport. It may include renovation of a government building.

The budget that lasts for a fiscal year is termed an operational budget. It includes items such as the payroll, utilities, insurance and other expenses; and for most businesses, “anything beyond a normal operational budget could be considered a long-range plan” Furthermore, once a project starts, or as funding for it nears completion, the concept moves from a long-range plan to an operational or short range plan.

The Success or Failure of Planning

The process of articulating the vision or goal is very crucial by either the pastor or the leader of an organization. However, after this stage, comes planning to execute the vision. Brierley, (1989:167) said “One man or one woman may have the vision but its fulfillment requires a church, a company, a battalion, all the work –force, an army, a multitude to make it happen.” The truth lies in the fact that you alone cannot accomplish your goals; it has to be through others. Gangel, corroborates this when he said “sometimes planning fails because we don’t involve people. Even if the pastor and board carry out the planning function, actual realization of the goals must involve a much wider group of people” .To him, he felt that planning itself is a way of involving many people. He decries the fact that many churches based their planning on finances only. On this he said “When we think only about finances we cripple the planning process-all resources essentials for goal achievement must be spelled out”. Still on line of success and failure of planning, he posits that planning can fail as a result of poor objectives as well as because of poor goals.

Planning may also fail when and if the planning group have no firm understanding of the mission, objectives, goals and implementation steps of the organization or if they fail to understand the process of goal setting when they are supposed to create it. According to Gangel, (1989:102) such group, may include in “the plan projects or ideas which do not relate to the objectives of the ministry.”

The Essence and the Need for Long –Range Planning

The writer is of the opinion that it is not needful for anyone, organization or churches to think whether or not it is biblical or against God’s will to have long-range plan. Suffice on this are the lives of model leaders like “Joseph in famine relief; Moses in desert survival; David in military strategies; Solomon in massive building project and Paul in missionary itinerary.”(:102).
While Gangel tries to discuss the foundations for effective planning, he x-trays some principles the planning process which the writer perceives as underlies the essentials of long- range planning.

These principles are:

  1. Investment: Planning is an investment not an expenditure of time. By this he meant that taken time to write out a list of tasks to be accomplished outing and prioritizing the tasks based on geography, opening and closing times of business and the urgency of their accomplishment saves as much four folds the time taken to write them out
  2. Foresight: Planning requires careful attention to immediate choices because immediate choices greatly expand or narrow future options; e.g. a student who intends to become a medical doctor has to pay attention to selecting subjects related to his ambition, if he/she selects sociology, English or literature wouldn’t move him towards medical school Gangel posits.
  3. Cycles: Planning is cyclically based on an evaluation.
  4. Objectivity: planning demands acting objectively toward goal realization- “A goal needs a plan to make it work.”
  5. Results: planning help us note the relationship between determining what we want to do and realizing that end.
  6. Details: planning specificity increases as the event draws near. For example program planned to come up next year August may be talked about in general term in September whereas, getting to mid-next year it has to be in specific terms.
  7. Participation: planning requires maximum participation. As it has been said earlier, no one person that has the vision can execute it. Others must be involved if it will be accomplished. This is known as participatory management. And under participatory management, subordinates understand and accept decisions better. It leads to greater identification with decision and a great commitment to implement them. Participation increases understanding by subordinates of both objectives of decision and plans to achieve them. Task motivation is increased by participation because through it subordinates understand that efforts will be rewarded and lack of effort will lead to negative outcomes. Participation is consistent with the needs of mature subordinates for autonomy, achievement, self-identity, and psychological growth Gangel, (1989:61).

As it has been said earlier, maximum participation helps the subordinates get along with the tasks and working towards the achievement of them. If you want others to identify with and run with your vision, encourage maximum participation. Eighth, planning demands that the effort applied be commensurate with the results (goal achievement)

While speaking about conference with a difference, Wilburn, (1971:70) discovers three basic elements which are: 1. proper planning and preparation, 2. active participation leading to action and 3. effective follow –up methods; to insure that decisions are properly carried out. He further posits that planning ahead determines how successful or highly pleasing a program turns out to be. He is of the opinion that planning for a program or meeting should begin far in advance. This would enable adequate time before the meeting or program takes place. This would enable calling those to participate in the meeting to ensure best attendance.

Premiere Long-Range Planning Model

The long-range planning model called “PERT is the design by which the Polaris submarine program was developed. It relates closely to the critical path method (CPM) used by the DuPont Corporation.” Gangel, ( :109). It interprets as Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT). Both PERT and CPM techniques function by identifying ‘job needed to complete a project, estimate of time needed to complete a job and determining the right sequence of the specific job and to determine the right sequence of the specific jobs.’ It seeks to determine which job ‘must precede, must follow, or can be done at the same time as other jobs. Other function of PERT/CPM include creating a format called a “network program, which shows the order and time estimates for jobs in a project. It makes it easier both to identify the critical jobs in a project and to manage a project effectively when resources are scarce.” (:109)

Critical path shows the sequence of how the jobs must be perform to meet deadlines. It shows both the longest path and the shortest time to perform a job and it contains the control points for the project. PERT on the other hand helps in consideration of all ingredients and reveal relationships between them. It is a kind of flow chart that displays the events sequences and time frames in a systematic manner to show or reveal its flow from beginning to the end.

Gangel states this succinctly that “The higher your position in the organizational chart, the more long-range must be your thinking.”(:111). What he meant by this is that the president, or vice-president; the pastor or the assistant pastor’ have more responsibilities for thinking through what happens or do not happen in the organization or the church and that requires lots of thinking which no one else may lend themselves to.

Apart from setting priority, another approach to time management is to think about each of ones’ commitment as a project itself Gangel, suggests. For instance, when you schedule a meeting to take place outside where you resides, you must ensure adequate preparation by making a list of all that may take your time to meet the schedule. You have to think about extra phone calls, your personal preparation, travel times, time to prepare the presentation etc. then lay this down on your in your diary. Then you have to apportion time to meet up all the parts. By this it will be possible for you to block out time for all life parts i.e. family, recreation, vacation time, work time.

Long –Range Planning and Faith

In his reaction to planning and faith Gangel, (1989: 113) was of the opinion that the eminent return of Jesus is not an excuse to long-range planning as some people would think. To regard date setting as unbiblical is counter-productive. Despite the teachings of Paul on the return of Christ, Paul never dissuades the church from developing “long range Christian” whose spiritual lives would build towards maturity. He reveals this in his letter to the Galatians where he urges them by saying “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Gal 6:9).
Reference is also made to Paul constant speeches about planting, watering and reaping; if a farmer would reap anything from his farm, there must be adequate planning. He slates out time to prepare ‘the soil at the right time, plant the seeds when it is best appropriate to weather the climatic effects, and adequate supply of water and warmth. The farmer must utilize his skill minds and hands to plan from planting to harvest time’ (:113).

References Used in Preparing this Post

Brierley, Peter. (1989). Vision building: Knowing where you are going. Christian Research
Eltham London.

Gangel. Kenneth. O. (1989). Feeding and leading: A practical handbook on administration in
churches and Christian organizations. Baker Books. Grand Rapids, USA.

_____________________ Feeding and leading: A practical handbook on administration in
churches and Christian organizations. Baker Books. Grand Rapids, USA.

Wilburn, James. (1971). Leadership for Christ in the local church. Gospel Services Inc. USA.