Planning Strategy for the New Year

The following blog is by Rob Berreth for a blog post posted in 2014. The dates and documents were updated.

As the New Year approaches many of us are thinking about what 2016 will look like and what 2015 was. This time, of the year I like to spend some time thinking about the evidence of God grace in the previous year and also prayerfully seek how God wants me to steward my time and resources this next year. I do this for myself and with my family.

I have found that some dedicated time to prayerfully planning the next year has been helpful to grow more in love with Jesus and more in love with His mission for His glory. You may have your way of doing this, and that’s great, but if you are looking for a way to reflect on 2015 and plan for 2016 here’s some helpful ways to do so.

Make Sure To Pray:

Before you do anything humbly ask the Holy Spirit to lead you. You could ask others, like a spouse, your children, your Gospel Community, to be praying for you as well. Times of reflection and planning are much more useful when you are prayerfully dependent.

Preach The Gospel To Yourself:

As you pray, keep telling yourself the Gospel. Your righteousness comes from what Jesus has done, not what you do or don’t do. Your status as a son or daughter is from the Gospel, not your good works. Anything good you have done this year is the result of the Gospel being applied to your life by the power of the Holy Spirit. Gospel saturation like this will guard you against despair where this last year was filled with sin and disappointment and will keep you from pride as you reflect on things that went well and areas of faithfulness.

Evidence Of Grace:

What can I celebrate this past year?
What areas of my life has God been working on?
Who have I helped introduce to Jesus?
How has my love for Jesus increased?
What difficult times has God carried me through?
What are some encouraging things that happened in our church and GC this past year?

These are just a few questions, but you get the idea. I want to spend time praising God by recognizing how faithful He has been to me. As I spend time reflecting on evidence of grace I am encouraged in my faith and directed to adore my King.

In addition, to evidence of grace, I also spend time on growth areas.

Growth Areas:

What things are stealing affection from Jesus in my life?
Where am I out of step with the Gospel on a regular basis? (Look for trends and patterns not one of the occurrences)
What sin(s) do I always struggle with?
Where was I off mission this past year? What was distracting me?
What things were keeping me from being and serving in community?
What areas of my life are not glorifying to Jesus? What areas of my life or attitude are not displaying that Jesus is my Treasure?

After spending time thinking through these questions, and others, I spend some more time planning out the next year using the following categories. There are so many other questions that are helpful to ask in planning, but hopefully, this will get the ball rolling. Each category below has a vital resource that we would encourage you to read in the new year either on your own or with some people in your gospel community.

Disciple (Forward)

Bible Reading Plan
Bible Memorization Goals
Prayer List
Set Devotional Time
Theological Focus (Thematic, Works, Authors, Etc.)
Funding (Bible Translation, Books, Bibles, Resources For Others)
Key Resource: God’s Big Picture This book will help you understand the big storyline of Scripture and how the different parts of the Bible fit together under the theme of the kingdom of God. This will help you read the Bible with confidence and understanding.

Key Resource: New City Catechism NCC is a free, media-interactive (video, text, q&a) resource designed to teach you the essentials of the Christian faith. This resource will work well for individual use or with your family or GC members.

Ambassador (Outward)

Evangelistic Prayer (Who, People Groups, New Plants)
Relational Evangelism (List Of Names)
Specific Mission: (Area, Culture, People group, etc.)
Funding (What will I give above and beyond my local church?)
Key Resource: The Walk If you’ve never discipled anyone, the topics covered in this book will teach you how to disciple others. The Walk is also a great book to read with a non-Christian friend as many at Redeemer have been doing over the last year.

More on Ambassador (Outward)

Serving (Doing Something With My Time both Locally and Globally)
Funding (Doing Something With My Finances both Locally and Globally)
Praying (Locally and Globally)
Key Resource: Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God's Work Ever wonders what’s the point of your job? With deep insight and often surprising advice, Keller shows readers that biblical wisdom is immensely relevant to our questions about our work. In fact, the Christian view of work—that we work to serve others, not ourselves—can provide the foundation of a thriving professional and balanced personal life. Keller shows how excellence, integrity, discipline, creativity, and passion in the workplace can help others and even be considered acts of worship—not just of self-interest.

Key Resource: Generous Justice: Generous Justice will help you develop a biblical understanding of service and justice. The book explores a life of justice empowered by an experience of grace: a generous, gracious justice. This book offers readers a new understanding of modern justice and human rights that will resonate with both the faithful and the skeptical.

Family (Inward)

Gospel Community (Specific Role, Prayer, Level Of Engagement)
Local Church (Specific Service, Level Of Engagement)
Funding (Sacrificial, Regular, Proportional, Worshipful, Grace Responding)
Key Resource: Gospel-Centered Parenting In twelve concise chapters, Gospel-Centered Family takes us through the major Bible principles for family life, challenging us to give up our 'respectable' middle-class idols, and to become the distinctively different people that God, through His gospel, calls us to be. Short but impactful read.

Key Resource: Total Church In Total Church, Chester, and Timmis first outline the biblical case for making gospel and community central and then apply this dual focus to evangelism, social involvement, church planting, world missions, discipleship, pastoral care, spirituality, theology, apologetics, youth and children's work. This book will help you love your church and serve the church well.

For those who like to strategize and get specific, here are a few additional tools from GO, our leader and church multiplication initiative:

Pre-Assessment & Example PDP

  • Join An EQUIP Year Group: Do you desire to be intentionally discipled in the four major areas of Redeemer's Identities (Worshipper, Disciple, Ambassador & Family)? Join an EQUIP year group. Put simply, the aim for EQUIP is to cultivate your love for Jesus and equip you to be an effective disciple-making disciple. 
  • Get Into a GC If you aren't in a GC, you are missing out. Gospel Communities (GCs) are really about a group of disciples growing as disciples while making disciples in their particular neighborhood as a family of believers serving Christ by serving others, learning as humble truth-seekers, and sent as witnesses of the Gospel to all people. Email to get connected.

I hope that some of this will serve you as you set out to make the best use of the time as a missionary for Jesus. May God give you direction and wisdom. May the Gospel deepen your love for God this year and train you and grow you in godliness. May this coming year be filled with many evidences of grace, a lot of growth, and joy that is grounded in Jesus, which never fades.