Let’s Talk About the FUTURE: God’s Better Future!

There are plenty of folks helping you deal with the present in this crisis; even my running shoe store has sent an URGENT email blast. It seems everyone wants you to know what they are doing RIGHT NOW to respond.

The Auxano Team is excited to talk about the FUTURE: God’s better future.

For almost 20 years now, we have partnered with local church teams to create what we call breakthrough clarity. For more about this, listen to a podcast episode with Will Mancini here.

In doing this, we define VISION in every process as illustrating and anticipating God’s better future for the church. Vision is simply a travel brochure for a place we are called to go.

There is a better future to lead toward, even when it doesn’t feel like it.

As we all navigate these strange and challenging days, here are a few resources to help you lead toward God’s better future:

> Your daily dose of hope, the Better Future Web Series – tune in every weekday at 11am ET/ 10 am CT, because tactics and plans are dependent on clarity first.

> A free download of Will Mancini’s book Innovating Discipleship because seven years ago, Will “called his shot” of every church reaching a crisis point that demanded innovation. He unpacks 4 paths to the future in this book.

> Stories of pastoral breakthrough in our My Ministry Breakthrough Podcast because you’re not alone, and hearing stories from other leaders proves it!

> Guest Experience Design resources from Bob Adams because you’ve always said you would work on your welcoming systems if you could just escape the Sunday volunteer crush.

> Blog articles from our navigator team: Will Mancini and Bryan Rose, because we are continually leading toward a better future.

Hopefully, these resources are helpful to you in the coming days. Feel free to share and reply, we would love to know what you are up to and share your journey with others.


 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryan Rose

Bryan Rose

As Lead Navigator for Auxano, Bryan Rose has a strong bias toward merging strategy and creativity within the vision of the local church and has had a diversity of experience in just about every ministry discipline over the last 12 years. With his experience as a multi-site strategist and campus pastor at a 3500 member multi-campus church in the Houston Metro area, Bryan has a passion to see “launch clarity” define the unique Great Commission call of developing church plants and campus, while at the same time serving established churches as they seek to clarify their individual ministry calling. Bryan has demonstrated achievement as a strategic thinker with a unique ability to infuse creativity into the visioning process while bringing a group of people to a deep sense of personal ownership and passion.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How to See Beyond Today: Understand Uncharted Possibilities

It has been said that all leaders live under the same sky, but not all view the same horizon. Some leaders see a wider horizon and keep their eye on the emerging skyline. Continual learning contributes to their sense of adventure and their ability to steer their organization. Others, however, unknowingly wear blinders. The shifting horizons don’t signal new opportunities because they are unanticipated and out of view.

In this sense, strategic planning is often limited because it keeps blinders on leadership. Auxano founder Will Mancini calls this “fallacy of predictability.” The assumption is that the near future will resemble the recent past. But rapid cultural change has meddled with this assumption. Change now happens so fast that the planning processes of yesteryear are obsolete. Unfortunately, not even the future is what it used to be.

If the North American church is going to avoid the slow but sure death guaranteed by “we’ve always done it that way,” it will have to shift its understanding of both the past that was and the future that is not going to be more of the same.

According to Reggie McNeal, the churches that prepare for the new world will ride the wave of the growth that is possible. Those who don’t prepare will continue to plan their way into cultural irrelevance, methodological obsolescence, and missional ineffectiveness in terms of being kingdom outposts.

The future belongs to those who prepare for it, not just those who plan it.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Canoeing the Mountains by Tod Bolsinger

Explorers Lewis and Clark had to adapt. While they had prepared to find a waterway to the Pacific Ocean, instead they found themselves in the Rocky Mountains.

You too may feel that you are leading in a cultural context you were not expecting. You may even feel that your training holds you back more often than it carries you along. Drawing from his extensive experience as a pastor and consultant, Tod Bolsinger brings decades of expertise in guiding churches and organizations through uncharted territory. He offers a combination of illuminating insights and practical tools to help you reimagine what effective leadership looks like in our rapidly changing world.

If you’re going to scale the mountains of ministry, you need to leave behind canoes and find new navigational tools. Now expanded with a study guide, this book will set you on the right course to lead with confidence and courage.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Planning assumes predictability in much the same way that a hiker counts on a map to navigate. There are fixed points in the future that can be anticipated, because the mountain pathways and earth-shaped landmarks marks stay relatively fixed over time. Their presence is predictable.

But happens when you encounter something new, and totally unexpected?

In U.S. history, the story of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark and their Corps of Discovery from 1804-1806 documents their journey across the western United States, recently acquired in the Louisiana Purchase. President Thomas Jefferson commissioned the expedition shortly after the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 to explore and to map the newly acquired territory, to find a practical route across the western half of the continent, and to establish an American presence in this territory before Britain and other European powers tried to claim it.

Tod Bolsinger, in his book “Canoeing the Mountains,” uses the story of the Lewis and Clark expedition as a metaphor for leaders today who are planning for the future.

Driven by the belief of explorers over the previous three hundred years, Lewis and Clark knew a water route to the Pacific Ocean was somewhere out there.

They could not have been more disappointed.

What Lewis and Clark actually discovered that three hundred years of experts had been completely and utterly wrong. There was no Northwest Passage. No navigable river. No water route.

The driving assumption of the brightest, most adventurous entrepreneurial and creative leaders regarding this new world had been absolutely mistaken.

Today’s leaders are facing complex challenges that have not clear-cut solutions. These challenges are more systemic in nature and require broad, widespread learning. They can’t be solved through a conference, a video series, or a program. Even more complicated, these problems are very often the result of yesterday’s solutions.

Lewis and Clark’s expedition to explore the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase was built on a completely false expectation. They believed, like everyone before them, that the unexplored west was exactly the same geography as the familiar east. The story of what they did when they discovered that they – and everyone else before them – had been wrong is instructive and inspiring for leaders today.

The story of Lewis and Clark and the Corps of Discovery is the driving metaphor for our present moment in history. In every field, in every business, every organization, leaders are rapidly coming to the awareness that the world in front of us is radically different from everything behind.

In the words of futurist Bob Johansen, after centuries of stability and slow, incremental change, in less than a generation our world has become VUCA: volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous. This VUCA world will only become more so in the days ahead and will require all leaders to learn new skills. What we have learned in our schools, through our experience, from our mentors, and by common sense will only take us so far. We now have to use every bit of what we know and become true learners who are ready to adapt to whatever comes before us.

Adaptive challenges (a phrase by Ronald Heifetz in “Leadership on the Line) are the true tests of leadership. They are challenges that go beyond the technical solutions of resident expert or best practices, or even the organization’s current knowledge. They arise when the world around us has changed but we continue to live on the success of the past.

Tod Bolsinger, Canoeing the Mountains

A NEXT STEP

Author Tod Bolsinger believes that, to live up to their name, local churches must be continually moving out, extending themselves into the world, being the missional, witnessing community we were called into being to be: the manifestation of God’s going into the world, crossing boundaries, proclaiming, teaching, healing, loving, serving, and extending the reign of God.

In short, churches need to keep adventuring or they will die.

Robert Sutton, professor of management science and engineering at the Stanford University School of Engineering, has developed breakthrough thinking – what he calls “weird ideas” – to help organizations foster new ideas while sustaining performance.

Gather your leadership team and work through the following list of his ideas, modified for a ministry setting, to help you think about new ideas and actions.

  • During the early stages of a new ministry idea, don’t study how others have approached it.
  • If you know a lot about a potential problem and how others have solved it in the past, ask people who are ignorant of it to study it and help solve it. Young people, including children, can be especially helpful for this task.
  • Ask new hires (especially those fresh out of school) to solve problems or do tasks that you “know” the answer to or you can’t resolve. Get out of the way for a while to see if they generate some good ideas.
  • Find people working on analogous issues in different organizations, fields, and industries, and ask them how they would solve the problem or do the job.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 110-1, released January 2019


 

This is part of a weekly series posting excerpts from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix book excerpts for church leaders.

SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; each solution is taken from a different book. Additionally, a practical action step is included with each solution.

As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS Remix provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

>> Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix<<

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Lessons from Netflix: Church Leaders Who Can See the Future Can Seize the Future

Netflix and other on-demand video providers, have already changed the culture more than you think.

And they’ve probably changed you more than you think.

Remember the good old days, back in say, 2007,  when people would gather around a set together to watch a TV show live when it was first broadcast?

Barely, right?

Whenever culture shifts, church leaders should pay attention.

Prudent leaders are taking notes now, because while the change will come later in the church (it always does), change is inevitable and it will be unkind to the unprepared.

5 Things Netflix Is Showing Church Leaders About the Future

So what can we learn from this? Plenty.

While it’s hard to say exactly how things will play out, the shifts are significant enough that you can begin to craft a strategy now. All of which serves the larger purpose of reaching your community with the message of Christ.

Respond, and you won’t be left wondering what happened.

Ignore the change, and you’ll be like an encyclopedia salesperson wondering why no one wants to answer the door anymore.

Church leaders who see the future can seize the future.

So, here are 5 things ways the changes Netflix (and the like) have brought about will impact the future church:

1. Live, simultaneous viewing is waning

About the only thing many people watch live now is sports, particularly if you monitor the viewing habits of people under 40.

Even regular shows people track with are often DVR’d so people can skip through commercials. Personally, even though I’m over 40, I rarely watch network television, but when I do, I’ll record a show and start watching it 15-20 minutes late so I can skip through the commercials.

A few implications for church leaders:

  1. Will once on Sunday seem strange? People are increasingly used to listening to your content on their schedule. If your main draw on Sunday morning is the message, offering it only once live on Sunday will not resonate as much in the future as it has in the past.  While this might not mean adding more services (extra services with 12 people each attending is not compelling), it does force you to reconsider what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
  2. Relationships and mission will be more powerful than singing and speaking. The gathering of the church at its best has always been about more than just a service or even a message on Sunday. The church is community on a common mission in which relationships with insiders and outsiders are central.

Churches that elevate relationship—both for new attenders and regular attenders—will see far more effectiveness in the future than churches that don’t.

In fact, you might even see more people drawn to your services not just for the services, but for the relationships and for a chance to make a difference working together on a common mission that makes a difference.

If all you do is sing and speak on a Sunday, it will become harder and harder to gather a crowd.

If you want to read more about the importance of relationships on Sunday and how to respond to declining attendance, this post on 7 Ways To Respond As People Who Attend Church Attend Less Oftencan help.

 2. Watching is becoming personal, individual and portable

Like you, I now consume content on multiple devices. I can watch TV, movies and Netflix on my phone, iPad, laptop, desktop or TV.

And, like you, I simply pick up where I left off. Stop a show at 33:23 on one device and pick up at 33:24 on another, whenever you want. Start at the gym, finish in the car or on the back deck.

Recently Netflix began to allow subscribers to create individual users on a common account so your kids or spouse can watch what they’re watching and you can watch what you’re watching without messing up each other’s feed. As a result, various members of a household may be watching the same series, but will be at different places in a series.

The implication for church leaders is that one more shift from the communal to the individual is happening.

So what on earth does that mean?

Great question, because it tears at the fabric of what the church is about—a community.

Some thoughts:

  1. It’s an opportunity for people to access your content the same way. Like many churches, a few years ago we created an app for Connexus that allows people to stream messages whenever and wherever they want across devices. Our content is available on our website as well, in addition to via podcast. Accessing your messages will become more personal, individual and portable. Embrace it. I realize that this sometimes mean people will watch online rather than attend, but it’s also a great way to spread the message more quickly than otherwise. People who love what you do will share it with their friends and talk about it on social media.
  2.  Still call people to something greater. As people’s experience of content consumption on an individual level becomes more prevalent, the need for community still won’t go away.

We’re more connected than ever as a culture, and many people are more lonely than ever.

As much as people want individualized access to content, they also want to be part of something bigger than themselves. Mission-driven, mission-focused and relationally rich churches will call draw in people longing for something bigger and more significant than themselves.

Churches can call people to something far greater than themselves. So do it!

3. There’s a market for binge watching

Binge watching is increasingly normal. Although it may have started back in the 80s or 90s when people lined up VCR tapes or DVDs and watched them in a marathon session, now it’s just far too easy to press ‘play’ from your couch without ever getting up.

Since Netflix streams entire series commercial free, you can easily power through several seasons of Suits, Downton Abbey, Game of Thrones or House of Cards in a day or even a week.

New seasons of series are now being released all at once rather than episode by episode (week after week) as in the past, again resulting in binge watching for many viewers.

The implications for church leaders are actually quite good on this one.

People will consume really great content in marathons, including yours. Your audio podcast could become a place where people go through entire series in short spans of time on their commute or while working out. Your video podcast could become the subject of binge viewing. Ditto with your website. Some churches like North Point are even building microsites around each series, like this one.

Bottom line? Make sure your content is accessible in the easiest forms possible for people to access.

4. Great stories are alive and valued

It’s fairly widely accepted that the best content being produced these days is not coming from Hollywood or even network TV, but from specialty channels like AMC, Comedy Central, USA network and Netflix itself.

Shows like Madmen, Breaking Bad and others win the ratings wars because of their rich plot lines, complex characters and willingness to take a viewer seriously. They don’t dumb down.

Many critics believe TV has become what movies used to be: a forum in which great stories are told.

The church, as I think most readers of this blog might agree, sits on the very best message on the planet.

The implication: tell the story….well.

The Gospel has always been about God’s story intersecting with the human story. The church is uniquely positioned to tell the best story of all.

So do it, well.

Clearly people are looking for a better story. Church leaders need to bring it to them.

5. People will pay for something they don’t use, until one day, they won’t

I realize I pay almost $100 a month for something I almost never use—network TV. I rarely watch it anymore.

I hold out and pay the monthly bill because I might watch the World Series or the Superbowl. I don’t like the illegal options (I don’t do illegal downloads) and watching live sports in Canada legally without subscription TV is more difficult than in the US.

But seriously…$1200 a year in case I might watch something? I could almost fly to the World Series for that.

For the first time in the US, traditional television subscriptions declined year over year as people cut the cord.

This is only going to accelerate.

If your entire church model is built on people coming together at set times to ‘consume’ content, how long will it be until people eventually wake up and realize they are paying for something they rarely ‘use’?

This is a bit of hyperbole, of course, when it comes to the church. Because the church is SO much more than a common gathering around content. Except that sometimes it’s not. It should be, but it’s not.

If you are simply try to attract people to a one hour event that people increasingly don’t attend, you will always struggle financially. People will support something they don’t attend until one day, they won’t.

The good news? Mission-centered, mission-focused churches will not be impacted by this. A church that has a white-hot sense of mission will almost always have the resources it needs to do what the church is called to do. But churches who want to prop up what used to sort-of-work, won’t.

So focus on your mission. Focus on your purpose.

Call people to something greater than themselves.

Personally, I’m fascinated by these cultural shifts and would love to hear your take on what you see happening and how you are responding or think the church should respond.

>> Read more from Carey here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is lead pastor of Connexus Community Church and author of the best selling books, Leading Change Without Losing It and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity. Carey speaks to North American and global church leaders about change, leadership, and parenting.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Which Path Will You Choose When Dealing with the Future?

According to Seth Godin, there are three paths to choose from when dealing with the future…

Accuracy, Resilience, and Denial

> Accuracy is the most rewarding way to deal with what will happen tomorrow–if you predict correctly. Accuracy rewards those that put all their bets on one possible outcome. The thing is, accuracy requires either a significant investment of time and money, or inside information (or luck, but that’s a different game entirely). Without a reason to believe that you’ve got better information than everyone else, it’s hard to see how you can be confident that this is a smart bet.

> Resilience is the best strategy for those realistic enough to admit that they can’t predict the future with more accuracy than others. Resilience isn’t a bet on one outcome, instead, it’s an investment across a range of possible outcomes, a way to ensure that regardless of what actually occurs (within the range), you’ll do fine.

> Denial, of course, is the strategy of assuming that the future will be just like today.

If you enter a winner-take-all competition against many other players, accuracy is generally the only rational play. Consider a cross-country ski race. If 500 people enter and all that matters is first place, then you and your support team have to make a very specific bet on what the weather will be like as you wax your skis. Picking a general purpose wax is the resilient strategy, but you’ll lose out to the team that’s lucky enough or smart enough to pick precisely the right wax for the eventual temperature.

Of course, and this is the huge of course, most competitions aren’t winner take all. Most endeavors we participate in offer long-term, generous entrants plenty of rewards. Playing the game is a form of winning the game. In those competitions, we win by being resilient.

Unfortunately, partly due to our fear of losing as well as our mythologizing of the winner-take-all, we often make two mistakes. The first is to overdo our focus on accuracy, on guessing right, on betting it all on the ‘right’ answer. We underappreciate just how powerful long-term resilience can be.

And the second mistake is to be so overwhelmed by all the choices and all the apparent risk that instead of choosing the powerful path of resilience, we choose not to play at all. Denial rarely pays.

Which path will you choose?

 

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company. He joined Auxano in 2012.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.