Hope Is Not A Strategy: 4 Questions To Create Real Movement In Your Organization

Published June 6, 2018

Leaders must have hope, or they will give up when leadership is difficult or unrewarding.

But hope alone won’t create movement.

Some organizations and churches opt out of internal systems and processes, planning for growth, budgeting, staff expansion or strategic ministry development.

They worry that such activities will limit God. Inadvertently, they end up limiting themselves.

  • If the worship leader puts framework around a worship service, does that limit God?
  • If the teaching pastor studies Scripture and prepares the message to be preached, does that limit God? Of course not.
  • If the small group leader reviews Bible study material in advance of a gathering, does that limit God? Certainly not.

Consider these examples:

1) Some organizations or churches are stuck because they fail to find perspective. They are afraid to acknowledge their current condition.

2) Some organizations or churches are stuck because they don’t put their plan into action. They are unwilling to do the hard work of building discipline or monitoring their progress.

3) Some organizations or churches have plans, but the plans have never produced results. Yet they continue trying to implement these plans, hoping it will eventually turn around.

4) Some organizations or churches are stuck because they fail to plan. They assume if they simply hope and pray for a better future, they can cling to past practices and still find success.

In the first three examples, the leaders have a plan, but either they failed to act or they didn’t develop a plan that fit their context.

But the fourth example, the leader without a defined plan, is the one most at risk. This leader will most likely experience the greatest amount of frustration and highest number of setbacks.

Without a plan, it is easy to feel helpless. It is easy to feel hopeless.

Dr. Henry Cloud reminds us in his book Necessary Endings, “Hope is not a strategy.” 

The same broken plan combined with greater amounts of hope will never produce a bigger impact.

The truth is, hope is a terrible strategy to grow, develop and multiply what God has entrusted to us as leaders.

Too much is at stake. This is why developing a theology of planning is critical to ensure life change continues to be a natural byproduct of the decisions we make, the buildings we build and the ministry investments we make.

Proverbs 24:5-6 (MSG) tells us, “It’s better to be wise than strong; intelligence outranks muscle any day. Strategic planning is the key to warfare; to win, you need a lot of good counsel.”

Successful leaders prioritize diverse perspectives, create intentional plans and guide their teams to take real action.
I challenge you to ask yourself some hard questions:

  • In what areas am I stuck as a leader?
  • In what areas are we stuck as an organization or church?
  • In what areas am I hoping for change, but not planning for it?
  • In what areas have I lost hope all together?
About the Author(s)
Tony Morgan

Tony Morgan

Founder & Chief Strategic Officer

The Unstuck Group

Tony Morgan is founder and chief strategic officer of The Unstuck Group, a company that helps churches get unstuck through consulting and coaching experiences designed to focus vision, strategy and action. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church in Dallas, Georgia, NewSpring Church in South Carolina and Granger Community Church in Indiana. To learn more, check out Tony’s Unstuck Church Assessmentand his new book, The Unstuck Church: Equipping Churches to Experience Sustained Health that unpacks each phase of the typical church life cycle.