With that assumption, the following guidelines are intended to guide a pastor or elder or director in writing recommendations that will help the Leadership (and, if appropriate, the congregation) understand, approve and act on significant suggested courses of action. I don’t mean that all these guidelines must be followed for every decision the Leadership must make. They apply to more major proposals—the kind that will be costly or will affect many people in important ways or may seem to the Leadership different from an assumed path. In these cases, thorough, careful, Biblical persuasion is needed. The assumption behind these guidelines is that at every point truth is paramount.
1. Pray without ceasing.That is, bathe every part of the process of decision making in prayer. This will be largely invisible in the early stages of dreaming and conceiving if the proposal is coming from one person.
2. Meditate on the Word of God all day.The person or group bringing the proposal should be in the Word, ponder all aspects of the proposal from the standpoint of God’s Word, and saturate all thinking and communicating about the proposal with parts of the Word that show the wisdom of the proposal.
3. Gather true information related to the proposal.Ideas for the future can be mistaken and unwise for several reasons. One of them is lack of relevant information: cost, people to be involved, skills needed, impact on other priorities, possible perceptions and reactions, possible outcomes in-sync with or out-of-sync with the vision.
Gathering this information involves research and imagination. One must put oneself forward into dozens of situations and imagine what the proposed reality will be like in order to have some idea of its implications. These implications are part of the information that must eventually be shared with the Leadership. The more of such information is brought to the table in advance, the more confident the Leadership will be that the proposal is workable and wise.
4. Think through as many implications of the proposal as possible.This step overlaps with the previous one and adds “thinking” to “gathering.” Thinking requires time and energy and imagination and raw materials of information. It is hard work. It is solitary work. It requires writing, since the connectedness of thoughts are lost if they are not written down. And it requires rewriting, since the first set of connections that one sees must usually be adjusted as other thoughts come to mind. Thinking is analytical, imaginary and constructive.
One must analyze how things will work, how people will think, what costs will be, what skill will be needed, how all these will affect what already exists, and how all of these relate to each other.
All along this process, imagination is required. The most persuasive leader will have the best imagination of what the future will really look like and how everything will relate to everything else. The success of his proposal will hang largely on how well he has used his imagination to foresee the implications of all that he is proposing. The quality of his leadership will be seen partly in that he has already asked and answered the questions the Leadership will have. This does not happen without hard thinking in solitude while writing.
Fruitful thinking must also be constructive. That is one must apply one’s mind to construct an integrated whole. It will not do to simply share fragments of an idea with the Leadership. If we want Leadership to affirm our idea for the future, we should bring them a coherent, unified picture of what it looks like. This only happens through constructive thinking. This is often the hardest work. It forces us to do the kind of tough thinking that saves Leadership time and effort.
5. Write the proposal including a coherent and orderly presentation of the proposal, an explanation of it, the implications and the rationale.First, state the proposal clearly and briefly in a few sentences.
Second, explain the proposal. That is, unpack its terms and make sure that it is clear.
Third, spell out the implications: people involved, time commitments, expenses, effects on present practices and people, etc. Foresee and state fairly and answer as many objections as you can.
Fourth, give a compelling rationale that would justify the implications and link the outcomes to the Vision.