Planning Requires Dreaming, Then You Narrow the Focus

Frustrated woman holding a comically long to do list

Narrow the focus is your last step of preparation for your first step of planning in ministry. So far, we covered 8 steps of getting started in ministry and we haven’t even left the starting position. Following these steps plus today’s step gives clarity and confidence as we move forward in getting your ministry started.


Yes, it seems like a lot of preliminary stuff to go through. However,  you will be glad you took the time when you are not floundering with what is the next thing.


In my last blog, we discussed having a dream session with other like-minded, and ministry-minded people. The one dream session rule was not to use the words, “no,” “can’t,” or “but.”  The dream session was not the place for it. In this last “Narrow the Focus,” step, we pray through and analyze our ideas.


Schedule a Narrow the Focus Meeting

narrow the focus


Bring your dream team back together to sort through your organized dream session notes. Before you begin, read Numbers 13:26-33 and 14:6-9. Notice the group of twelve spies who spied out the Promised Land. Most of them gave a bad report. Only two spies gave a good report. The bad reports were based on physical circumstances.  The good reports were based on the spiritual reality of the presence of God with them.


Before you begin your narrow the focus session, I want you to be reminded that your God is with you. Your God is great and able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us. (Ephesians 3:20)


As you go through this narrow the focus session, don’t eliminate ministry avenues based on a bad report or physical circumstances. Circumstances are subject to change because God is with you.  If you sense God wants you to go a certain direction. Go that direction!


Ministry should be bigger than you and I and what we can do. It should press the borders of our comfort zone to uncomfortable levels. If we are able to manage all the details on our own, where does God or faith equate into the ministry? We are Holy Spirit-filled believers called to live out of His power. The only way that will happen is if we face something we can’t do on our own.


Narrow the focus using your mission statement.


In the narrow the focus session, you need your developed mission statement readily available to all and at the center of your analysis. I discussed developing a mission statement, in my blog post, If You Are Getting Started In Ministry, You Need A Mission Statement. Your mission statement helps weed out the ideas that do not fulfill your mission. Eliminate those things that do not work within the context of your mission and purpose.


If your ministry is a church ministry, consider the church’s mission as well. You may eliminate some great ideas that simply don’t uphold your purpose or mission in ministry. Trust me when I say that it is better to eliminate something now that will become a burden and distraction later. I hope you hear the voice of reason speaking from experience!


Narrow the focus considering budget and method of payment.


I never like this part. I struggle with what is wisdom and what is faith and how to balance the two. The best advice I can give is, don’t minimize your dreams, God’s calling, or your God, based on finances alone. God is our provider and if you believe God is calling you to do something that is outside of your budget, He will provide! I have seen it over and over again.


However, if something is out of your budget and you don’t sense a strong calling or you have no peace about it, wisdom would say, don’t do it. Let’s say this is a great idea and lines up with the purpose of your ministry but there is not enough money in the budget, maybe it is something you should put on the back burner. It could be that the timing for that particular area of ministry is off. God will work it out in His timing.


Make a list of things you and your team decide to move forward on and make a list of things that you believe may work in the future but are not for your ministry today. Set your future list aside and focus on what to do right now.


Inevitably the original list you develop is too much and may still need to be minimized. I recommend taking no more than three points of ministry adventures and zero your energy in on that. Hopefully you have chosen directions that are much too big for you and your team.


My prayer and blessing for you:

May all the days of your ministry be bigger and broader than your own vision, that you are continually in need of the secret place with God. I pray, beloved ministry leader, that God prospers your ministry in all things, just as your soul prospers (3 John 1:2). May God’s beauty be upon you as you and your team serve Him and may He establish the work of your hands for you (Psalm 90:17), in Jesus’ name.  AMEN!


As it has been said to me, “Pray, do all that you can do, and let God do the rest.”


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