Leaders Forecast the Future

Do you feel like most days you are running on a ministry treadmill? You know the feeling – it’s when the busyness of ministry creates a progressively irreversible hurriedness in your life as a leader. The sheer immediacy of each next event or ministry demand prevents you from taking the time to look to the future horizon – and sometimes even today’s calendar – until it crashes in on you.

All too often, today’s demands can choke out the needed dialogue for tomorrow. When this occurs, your multiplied activity accomplishes little of value and prevents you from ministry with a clear sense of what God has called you to do.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Signals Are Talking, by Amy Webb

Amy Webb is a noted futurist who combines curiosity, skepticism, colorful storytelling, and deeply reported, real-world analysis in this essential book for understanding the future. The Signals Are Talking reveals a systemic way of evaluating new ideas bubbling up on the horizon – distinguishing what is a real trend from the merely trendy. This book helps us hear which signals are talking sense, and which are simply nonsense, so that we might know today what developments-especially those seemingly random ideas at the fringe as they converge and begin to move toward the mainstream-that have long-term consequence for tomorrow.

With the methodology developed in The Signals Are Talking, we learn how to think like a futurist and answer vitally important questions: How will a technology-like artificial intelligence, machine learning, self-driving cars, bio hacking, bots, and the Internet of Things – affect us personally? How will it impact our businesses and workplaces? How will it eventually change the way we live, work, play, and think-and how should we prepare for it now?

Most importantly, Webb persuasively shows that the future isn’t something that happens to us passively. Instead, she allows us to see ahead so that we may forecast what’s to come – challenging us to create our own preferred futures.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION – Forecast the Future

Though it may often seem like it, tomorrow doesn’t arrive fully formed, but develops in measured steps. The tomorrow in question is not a calendar day, but the whole spectrum of actions, activities, and personalities that together make up your future.

No, your tomorrow begins taking shape with seemingly disparate events from all directions around you. They may seem random, but in the right context these points will be discerned first as a fuzzy pattern before developing into a meaningful whole. Before you know it, your future has arrived.

Are you ready for the future? Maybe the bigger question should be, did you see it coming? 

No one should plan for a future she cannot see.

Futurists are skilled at listening to and interpreting the signals talking. It’s a learnable skill, and a process anyone can master. Futurists look for early patterns – pre-trends, if you will – as the scattered points on the fringe converge and begin moving toward the mainstream. They know most patterns will come to nothing, and so they watch and wait and test the patterns to find those few that will evolve into genuine trends.

Each trend is a looking glass into the future, a way to see over time’s horizon. The advantage of forecasting the future win this way is obvious. Organizations that can see trends early enough to take action have first-mover influence. But they can also help to inform and shape the broader context, conversing and collaborating with those in other fields to plan ahead.

One of the reasons you don’t recognize this moment in time as an era of great transformation is because it’s hard to recognize change. The pace of change has accelerated, as we are exposed to and adopt new technologies with greater enthusiasm and voracity each year.

Forecasting the future requires a certain amount of mental ambidexterity. Just as a piano player must control her left and right hands as she glides around the keyboard playing, you need to learn how to think in two ways at once – both monitoring what’s happening in the present and thinking how the present relates to the future.

Amy Webb, The Signals Are Talking

A NEXT STEP

Mapping the future for your church begins with identifying early signposts as you look out on the horizon. In order to chart the best way forward, you must understand emerging trends: what they are, what they aren’t, and how they operate.

Amy Webb has developed a six-part process that can help you forecast the future. These six steps were developed during a decade of research at the Future Today Institute.

  1. Find the Fringe – Make observations and harness information from the fringes of society or a particular area. What can you observe about the groups of people in your church that might look or act different from the majority? What motivates or demotivates them?
  2. Use CIPER – Uncover hidden patterns by searching for Contradictions, Inflections, Practices, Hacks, Extremes, and Rarities. Are there any “unwritten” rules at your church in parking, arrival time, or ministry patterns that tell a story?
  3. Ask the Right Questions – Determine if whether a pattern is really a trend.
  4. Calculate the ETA – Ensure that the timing is right for the trend and for your organization.
  5. Write Scenarios – Scenarios inform the strategy you will create to take the necessary action on a trend. Talk through any changes that you might make as a result of the discoveries above. What complications and opportunities emerge as you think through the impact on the congregation.
  6. Pressure-Test the Future – Are your scenarios comprehensive enough? Is the strategy you’re taking the right one for the future?

Write each one of the six steps above on a separate chart tablet. Set aside three hours with your team to work through the six steps above, answering the question “What is the future of X?” where X is a proposed new ministry initiative.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 64-1, April 2017


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

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The Love-Hate Confessions of a Horizontal Organizer

or, the domino effect in action.

courtesy Jeffrey Pioquinto CC 90412460@N00

courtesy Jeffrey Pioquinto CC 90412460@N00

A few years ago, my wife and I replaced our antique brass bed with a new bed. That led to a minor redecorating of our bedroom, which led to a major effort to simplify life in our house. As parents of four, but on the verge of being empty nesters, we decided to reduce our furniture footprint, change our room use around, and redecorate our house.

After a few trips to Goodwill to donate furniture, we had a working kitchen with plenty of space for 3 chefs at a time, a home office tucked away to one side, and an island for casual eating for 3. The family room acquired a new media center, much smaller than the previous one. The built-in book shelves were cleaned up, organized, and looked great. Free standing bookshelves were rearranged and relocated. New furniture was chosen and delivered to create a simple, clean look. The original dining room – our computer room and my office for 9 years – was returned to a dining room furnished with art from several Charleston trips. One of the front bedrooms – our daughter’s – became known as the Disney Princess room, decorated with Disney art and a Lego Disney Castle, all just waiting for our three granddaughters to visit. The other front bedroom became a mini-den, with two recliners and a small table with a large monitor for a temporary-as-neededed workstation. The entire downstairs ceilings were stripped of that awful popcorn ceiling and painted. All of the downstairs rooms were painted in shades of grey. My office was relocated upstairs to what was originally a bedroom for two of our sons, and also fulfills a guest bedroom role.

Therein lies the problem.

I’m a reader, researcher, writer, and editor for Auxano’s Vision Room. My title is Vision Room Curator, which is a really cool title, but functionally I read, research, and write – a lot of all three. Which involves books – lots of them (even in the digital reader age). And project files (I’m trying to go digital, but it’s taking awhile). More books, as in book towers – one for each year of SUMS Remix. And visual learning objects – lots of Disney items including a Sorcerer Mickey hat and Mickey hands; gas station memorabilia; Starbucks cups and barista training materials; pirate gear and props, etc. – all related to projects I’m currently working on. Then there’s special family photos, challenge coins and patches of my Air Force son’s career, and did I mention books?

My name is Bob, and I’m a horizontal organizer.

I like the things I am working on spread out on a surface in front of me, where they can beckon me to continue working on them. Efficiency experts and time management gurus live in a world of vertical file management and a digital, paperless world, but me – not so much.

As a horizontal organizer, I am at a situational disadvantage. The whole world is set up to help keep vertically organized people on top of things. On the other hand, all my work is on top of things – my desk(s), the tops of filing cabinets, bookshelves, the nearby futon (I’m getting better, Anita – I really am!), and the floor.

As you have no doubt heard, a messy desk spread thick with paper and stacked high with books is the sign of a genius at work.

At least that’s what I tell myself.

The relocation of my office from the main level of our home to the second floor has had many benefits, not the least of which is increased domestic tranquility – a phrase not exclusively limited to governmental issues by any means. Because of my tendencies towards horizontal organization – actually, more like a full-out embrace – my working office is out of sight, but not out of mind – the office must also remain a guest room (but give me a couple hours notice, please, to ahem – rearrange things).

I’m sure I’ve got some resources somewhere around here on how to accomplish both…

Now – where did I put that book?

Special thanks to my youngest son Aaron, who in his senior year in college pointed me to the book The Art of Procrastination, by John Perry. After he bought the book, read it, and wrote a paper on procrastination the day it was due, he gave it to me to read.

Through it, I was introduced to the concept of horizontal organization. I’m looking forward to finding out more about Structured Procrastination, To-Do Lists, Procrastination as Perfectionism, and other strategies for the serial procrastinator.

In the meantime…

Recently, I became aware of another book with a similar topic: Soon: An Overdue History of Procrastination, from Leonardo and Darwin to You and Me. Author Andrew Santella explores a diverse group of individuals, from Charles Darwin to Leonardo Da Vinci to Frank Lloyd Wright, to ask why so many of our greatest inventors, artists, and scientists have led double lives as committed procrastinators. Here’s a couple of quotes:

In the process of trying to avoid one task, I was in fact completing many other tasks. Even procrastinators can become task-oriented, when the task they are oriented to is procrastinating.

Procrastination is really a kind of time travel, an attempt to manipulate time by transferring activities from the concrete past to an abstract future.

Indeed.

Developing a Generous Life: Downsize to Maximize

How can you experience the transforming power of a generous life? 

Generosity is a testimony of God’s grace in your life. It affirms your faith and it is how God desires to work around the world. You are declaring your faith again and again every time you give. When you then give extravagantly, you are truly participating at a high level in the advancement of the gospel mission. You perceive in an increasing way, what is important to God, how He works in the world, and desires to partner with you.

But where do you start in developing a generous life?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The More of Less, by Joshua Becker

Most of us know we own too much stuff. We feel the weight and burden of our clutter, and we tire of cleaning and managing and organizing.

While excess consumption leads to bigger houses, faster cars, fancier technology, and cluttered homes, it never brings happiness. Rather, it results in a desire for more. It redirects our greatest passions to things that can never fulfill. And it distracts us from the very life we wish we were living. In The More of Less, Joshua Becker, helps you….

  • recognize the life-giving benefits of owning less
  • realize how all the stuff you own is keeping you from pursuing your dreams
  • craft a personal, practical approach to decluttering your home and life
  • experience the joys of generosity
  • learn why the best part of minimalism isn’t a clean house, it’s a full life

The beauty of minimalism isn’t in what it takes away. It’s in what it gives.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION – Downsize to Maximize

Contentment is a lifelong pursuit. It truly is hard to be content. As a matter of fact, you have to learn how to be content. Here are two words that can help: process and perspective. Contentment is not an event or experience, it is a trained discipline of the soul. Perspective is the active ingredient that enables contentment in many different trying situations. 

Once we let go of the things that dont matter, we are free to pursue all the things that really do matter.

There is more joy to be found in owning less than can ever be found in pursuing more. In a world that constantly tells us to buy more and more, we often lose sight of that. But consider the life-giving benefits. You can expect a payoff in every one of the following areas if you practice the principles of minimalism taught in The More of Less.

More time and energy – the fewer things we have, the more of our time and energy we’ll have left to devote to other pursuits that matter more to us.

More money – by buying fewer things, we spend less money.

More generosity – there are countless opportunities worth vastly more than material accumulation.

More freedom – every time we remove an unnecessary item, we gain back a little freedom.

Less stress – every added possession increases the worry in our lives.

Less distraction – everything around us competes for our attention.

Less environmental impact – overconsumption accelerates the destruction of natural resources.

Higher-quality belongings – owning more stuff is not better; owning better stuff is better.

A better example for our kids – give your children a framework to counteract the out-of-control lifestyle marketed to them.

Less comparison – purposefully owning less begins to take us out of the unwinnable game of comparison.

More contentment – material possessions will never fully satisfy the desires of our hearts.

Joshua Becker, The More of Less

A NEXT STEP

If we were to be honest with ourselves, many of us could identify with a five-year old when it comes to buying and owning things. We’re captivated by the glamour of things – and we want them now!

Which over time means we end up with a home full of clutter.

So where do you actually start trying to clear out all that stuff you own?

You’ve probably heard of the 80/20 principle. It’s a generality, but it has proven true in many areas of life. How about trying it in the area of your possessions?

It means that you use 20 percent of your stuff 80 percent of the time, and you use the other 80 percent of your stuff only 20 percent of the time. Within that 80 percent of your stuff that mostly just lies around, there should be plenty of choices to start trimming down clutter.

Start with the areas of your home that you use frequently. Living rooms, bedrooms, and bathrooms are a great place to start because you will quickly see the benefits of getting rid of stuff.

As you move from room to room, just put things in a box for later sorting. The idea is to start simplifying your life so you will see the benefits. Now it’s time for the fun.
Have a personal garage sale and give your profit back to the church or specific missionary. Alternately, you could donate to a local organization that can resell for ministry funds. Bottom line, keep the big-picture in mind.

Now step back and take a look at the results, and start the peace that comes from living in a home that has enough – but not too much. And the joy of leveraging your excess for Kingdom access.

Even if the benefits in the list above and the short exercise above were the only reasons for practicing contentment and minimalism, they would be enough. But there’s more. There’s also the personalized benefit each of us can get from minimalism. Getting rid of what you don’t need is the first step toward crafting the life you want.

Giving joyfully then regretting painfully is no fun. Giving should be 100% rewarding all the time. How can we discover this? Can we move to an incredible lifestyle of consistency, dependability, and the rewarding life of generosity? A place where the front side and back side of giving are equally meaningful?

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 65-1, issued April 2017


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

Leaders Execute the Vision

Does your lack of organizational focus keep everyone too busy – especially you?

 Do you feel like most days you are running on a ministry treadmill? You know the feeling – it’s when the busyness of ministry creates a progressively irreversible hurriedness in your life as a leader. The sheer immediacy of each next event or ministry demand prevents you from taking the time to look to the future horizon – and sometimes even today’s calendar – until it crashes in on you.

All too often, today’s demands can choke out the needed dialogue for tomorrow. When this occurs, your multiplied activity accomplishes little of value and prevents you from ministry with a clear sense of what God has called you to do.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Escape Velocity by Geoffrey A. More

In Escape Velocity, Geoffrey A. Moore, author of the marketing masterwork Crossing the Chasm, teaches twenty-first century enterprises how to overcome the pull of the past and reorient their organizations to meet a new era of competition. The world’s leading high-tech business strategist, Moore connects the dots between bold strategies and effective execution, with an action plan that elucidates the link between senior executives and every other branch of a company.

For anyone aiming for the pinnacle of success, Escape Velocity is an irreplaceable roadmap to the top.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

While forecasting the future should be seen as a necessary action for ministry today, Auxano Founder and Team Leader Will Mancini believes that for every leader who surfs the waves of cultural change there are a hundred who are stuck in a whirlpool vortex – and they feel they can’t keep their heads above the waters.

The world outside us is not stuck. It is changing rapidly even as we find ourselves sinking deeper and deeper into the comfort of yesterday.

It’s time to go back to the drawing board for vision, strategy, and execution.

The larger and more successful the enterprise, the greater the inertial mass, the harder it is to alter course and speed.

What if there is some hidden force that is working against your best efforts? What if this force is operating inside your own company, with the full support of your executive team, your board, and indeed yourself? What if this force is able to mysteriously redirect resource allocation so that it never quite gets deployed against new agendas? That force is the pull of the past.

To move beyond the pull of the past, you must organize and shape your approach to the planning effort of next year with three goals foremost:

Articulate a compelling vision of the future that others will want to support.

Set a strategy consistent with your vision.

Resource your execution so that it can accomplish your highest aspirations.

To free your organization’s future from the pull of the past, to escape the gravitational field of your prior year’s operating plan, you need to apply a force that is greater than the inertial momentum of current operations.

Newton’s first law of motion states that an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to continue in the direction in which it is currently moving. The same goes for resource allocation.

When organizations begin their strategic planning effort by circulating last year’s operating plan, they reinforce the inertial properties of the resources as currently allocated. This is not a good outcome, but to be frank, there is no help for it.

What you can do, however, is get yourself and your colleagues out in front of it. Execution is acting and reacting in real time to an ever-changing set of circumstances, all the while maintaining your strategic intent. Execution power, by contrast, is created in advance of the real-time moment of truth and focuses on getting the right resources in the right position for maximum impact and efficiency.

Geoffrey A. Moore, Escape Velocity

A NEXT STEP

It’s time to develop a visionary state of mind by practicing two essentials. First, you need to grasp that clarity isn’t everything, but it changes everything. Too many times, church leaders are making decisions and having conversations without the vantage point of clarity first. Is there anything greater that we should be working on? Why would we put our foot on the gas petal before the fog lifts? All activity is not progress. In churches today, it’s all too easy to be busy without intention or direction.

Second, we need to state our vision framework before we frame our vision statement. Leaders must work from a common template to understand and communicate vision, or everyone will stay confused. The story and vision of the church won’t work its way into staff meetings, volunteer training, membership moments, casual conversations or our prayer lives.

Introducing the Vision Frame

No leader should lead, no team should meet, and no initiative should start without understanding the Vision Frame. In short, the Vision Frame reminds us that there are five irreducible questions of clarity. Your church’s vision isn’t totally clear until your leadership team can answer all five questions in a concise and compelling way:

  • MISSION as Missional Mandate: What are we doing?
    The missional mandate is a clear and concise statement describing what your church is ultimately supposed to be doing.
  • VALUES as Missional Motives: Why are we doing it?
    Missional motives are shared convictions that guide the actions and reveal the strengths of your church.
  • STRATEGY as Missional Map: How are we doing it?
    The missional map is the process or picture that demonstrates how your church will accomplish its mandate on the broadest level.
  • MEASURES as Missional Life Marks: When are we successful?
    Missional life marks are a set of attributes in an individual’s life that define or reflect the accomplishment of the church’s missional mandate.
  • VISIONPROPER as Missional Mountaintop + Milestones: Where is God taking us?
    Vision Proper is the living language that anticipates and illustrates God’s better intermediate future.

When you commit to clarity, great things happen. You empower a movement of people to tell the story of what God is doing in and through your church. You can seamlessly share the what, the why, and the how.

Don’t let all the different vision terms and concepts excuse you from being an everyday visionary. It’s time to stop stabbing at the future with a few short phrases. You can guide your church with stunning clarity. Remember Jesus. He walked on Earth with total clarity about His identity, His mission and His destiny. Shouldn’t His body today do the same?

Download a Vision Frame Overview and work through it with your lead team.

Start a conversation with an Auxano Navigator today to learn more about how the Vision Frame can help you execute your vision.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 64-2, released April 2017.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

How to Create Fully Engaged Teams that are Ready for Change

In the life of church leaders, Sunday is always coming. There are sermons to prepare, volunteers to be trained, worship to plan, and dozens of other tasks repeated weekly.

Yet in the midst of it all, life sometimes throws us a curve, and we are faced with a crisis of minor or major proportions. Or, maybe the opposite is true: an unbelievable opportunity for ministry presents itself out of the blue.

What do you need to do to be both resolved in planning yet responsive to changes, as you lead toward vision?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Agile Engagement, by Santiago Jaramillo and Todd Richardson

Many organizations fail to realize and harness the power of their most valuable asset—their employees. Though they can be developed into a true competitive advantage, engagement isn’t attainable if the employee isn’t invested in the company’s overall success.

Agile Engagement offers leaders a concrete strategy for building, maintaining, and utilizing team engagement to achieve the highest level of success. The key? Team members must feel like they are a part of their organization’s culture instead of having it handed down to them.

Stories of failed engagement initiatives abound, and they all have one thing in common: they begin from the premise of “initiative” rather than the person. True engagement occurs when a team member’s heart and mind are activated in a way that leads to their motivation and commitment to positively impact the organization’s goals and vision.

Agile Engagement provides a deeper look into real engagement, helping you foster an environment that’s rewarded with unsurpassed productivity, innovation, and competitive advantage, as well as team members who feel valued, respected, and heard.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

In the rapidly changing environment of ministry, it would be easy for team members to have the feeling of being left behind, or becoming less and less engaged with their work.

All people – and therefore the people who make up your team – are extremely complex. Additionally, people can change over time and with circumstances. How can leaders expect to keep their teams engaged in the constant of change?

It takes a focus on people over process, real engagement over cookie-cutter programs, consistent intentionality over passive manipulation, and healthy change over rigid planning.

In other words, your team engagement has to be agile.

We define employee engagement as an employees emotional and intellectual connections with an employer, as demonstrated by his or her motivation and commitment to positively impact the companys vision and goals,

Defining Employment Engagement

Strategic Alignment – Employees can both verbalize and actualize the core business strategies.

Understanding of Success – Employees understand their organizational, departmental, and personal success metrics and tangibly grasp their contribution to the company’s overall success.

Clear Communication – Employees trust the company because of coherent and frequent contact, timely feedback, and clear expectations.

Workplace Vibe – The overall environment fosters effective work in everything from the physical workspace to interactions between employees.

Growth Path – Employees have the opportunity to grow their skills through new work challenges and positions over time, in both managerial and independent contractor roles.

Santiago Jaramillo and Todd Richardson, Agile Engagement

A NEXT STEP

Take an assessment of your organization’s current state of team engagement using the five measures outlined above.

Write each measure above on a separate chart tablet, and draw a horizontal line underneath, with a 1 on the left side and a 5 on the right. Using a scale of 1 (what’s team engagement?) to 5 (our team is fully engaged in our culture), come to a group consensus on a rating for each of the measures.

Under the left side of each chart tablet, list actions or events that define your engagement as poor or low.

Under the right side of each chart tablet, list actions or events that define your engagement as good or great.

Brainstorm a path needed to move those actions and events on the left side of each page to the right side of each page. Assign responsibilities and dates, and evaluate the progress of each on a regular basis.

It’s hard to make decisions about future possibilities when you are overwhelmed with the present, but that is exactly the time when the foresight of being an agile organization can propel you into exciting opportunities that you would otherwise miss out on.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 62-2, issues March 2017.


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

First-Century Believers Intertwined Daily Life with Discipleship. What Happened?

Does your church only see discipleship as a class to be taken or a study to attend?

The story of discipleship in the beginning days of the church was lived out as those early Christians went about their lives – telling family, friends, masters, slaves, soldiers about their new lives in Christ.

In other words, they lived out their faith every day in the relationships they already had with others.

Fast forward to today: Every weekend, untold numbers of Christians leave a church building seeing no connection between their faith and their everyday lives. The next six days between Sundays seem like a spiritual vacuum, with little to no spiritual meaning.

For first-century believers, daily life was intertwined with discipleship. What happened?

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Workplace Grace, by Bill Peel and Walt Larimore

You can take your faith to work in appropriate, engaging ways. Workplace Grace offers a simple, non-threatening approach to evangelism. Whether your work takes you to a construction site, a cramped cubical or the corner office, every Christian plays a significant role in the Great Commission. Between Sundays, you can be a pipeline for God’s grace in the most strategic mission field in the world: your workplace.

Workplace Grace is for Christians who are not gifted evangelists, yet they want to make a spiritual difference at work and see their coworkers and friends come to faith in Jesus Christ. After adopting Workplace Grace strategies, Christians who once felt awkward sharing their faith now say, “A load of guilt has been taken off my shoulders.” “I never knew sharing my faith could be so simple.” “I can do this!”

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Mention the word “discipleship” to most Christians and the likely response will have something to do with a class they attended at church or something similar. It may even progress to something deeper, like learning how to “witness” to others.

While that’s not wrong, it’s not all the story.

Our job is not so much to bring people to Jesus, as it is to bring Jesus to people.

Spiritual influence is about more than zeal to spread the gospel. People need to see and be attracted to Jesus in us before we try to persuade them to trust Him.

In Acts 1:8 the word “witnesses” is a noun. The emphasis is on being a witness, not on witnessing. In fact, we are never commanded to go witnessing (verb), but to be witnesses (noun). Focusing on doing before being disconnects who we are from what we say.

When we “go witnessing (verb),” we usually know little to nothing about the status of the Holy Spirit’s work in the lives of the people we meet. And they know little, to nothing about us that gives them a reason to trust what we say. In the context, we challenge people to take a quantum leap of faith, rather than a small step toward Jesus. This can add more rocks on the hard soil of someone’s heart.

Whether growing acres of wheat or planting a backyard vegetable garden, cultivation is key to a successful harvest. Breaking up the soil, removing rocks, and pulling weeds always comes before planting.

God often uses those whose own heart soil is softened and fruitful to cultivate the hearts of others. People who reflect Christ’s character and demonstrate His love, compassion, integrity, graciousness, and patience.

Cultivation is all about earning the right to be a spiritual influence in someone’s life. The goal of this phase is to break down emotional barriers by earning trust and creating curiosity about our faith.

Trust is not automatic. It is a response to character and actions.

Bill Peel and Walt Larimore, Workplace Grace

A NEXT STEP

As we live out our lives and spend time with other people, being alert to the work of the Holy Spirit in their lives, we are beginning to understand how God can use us to disciple others, and in the process, grow as disciples ourselves.

Developing relationships with others – especially those with whom we have regular and close contact – can be very difficult. But God didn’t give us a pass on this – the Great Commission is pretty specific that we are to “make disciples” as we are going about our daily lives.

Developing relationships with others in our daily lives requires us to earn the right to be heard, and often that requires understanding and practicing new rules of engagement with others.

Gather your staff or key leaders and brainstorm personal and intentional ways in which each person can earn influence through obedience of these commands of Jesus:

  1. Turn the other cheek. “I tell you, don’t resist and evildoer. On the contrary, if anyone slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also” (Matthew 5:39). The “slaps” of Jesus day today take the form of rolling our eyes at someone, acting too busy to listen, or anything that communicates a condescending attitude toward others. Letting an insult bounce off us without any visible effect may quietly be the first step toward developing a conversation rather than a confrontation.
  2. Give whats asked for – and more. “As for one who wants to sue you and take away your shirt, let him have your coat as well” (Matthew 5:40). The coat referred to here is like an overcoat today. Jesus’ words demonstrated an extraordinary thing to do – seeing if going beyond the initial request would settle the matter. People are more important than the point. We can plant many seeds for developing relationships by treating other people as more valuable than our own appeals for fairness and justice.
  3. Walk a little further. “If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two” (Mathew 5:41). Roman law of the first century required Jewish cooperation in helping soldiers and officials in daily life – a practice that continually reminded the Jewish people of their second-class status. Jesus’ command turned a legalistic requirement into an act of grace, by allowing the needs of others to take precedence over our own.
  4. Show generosity. “Give to the one who asks you, and don’t turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you” (Matthew 5:42). Sharing the generous, open lifestyle of the kingdom with others is as much about the state of your heart as is the size of your wallet. We’re all needy people – we may not have the same needs, but we have many needs. Looking for ways to do more and want less is clearly not seen in much of society, and may help develop a relationship with others.

Actions like the above – when we start deliberately letting God do remarkable, countercultural things through us – are some of the best ways to help others see a difference in you, and lay the groundwork for developing a relationship as the beginning point of sharing Christ with them.

Adapted from Subversive Kingdom, by Ed Stetzer

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 61-1, published March 2017


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

Reduce Complexity by Moving from Planning to Preparation

How to be both resolved in planning, yet responsive to changes, as you lead toward vision.

In the life of church leaders, Sunday is always coming. There are sermons to prepare, volunteers to be trained, worship to plan, and dozens of other tasks repeated weekly.

Yet in the midst of it all, life sometimes throws us a curve, and we are faced with a crisis of minor or major proportions. Or, maybe the opposite is true: an unbelievable opportunity for ministry presents itself out of the blue.

What do you do?

Move from planning to preparation.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Agility Shift, Pamela Meyer

As contrary as it sounds, “planning” – as we traditionally understand the term – can be the worst thing a company can do. Consider that volatile weather events disrupt trusted supply chains, markets, and promised delivery schedules. Ever-shifting geo-political tensions, as well as internal political upheaval within U.S. and global governments, derail long-planned new ventures. Technology failures block opportunities.

There are a myriad of ways in the current business environment for a company’s well-considered business plans to go awry.  Most business schools continue to prepare managers to be effective in stable and predictable environments, conditions that, if they ever existed at all, are long gone.

The Agility Shift shows business leaders exactly how to make the radical mindset and strategy shift necessary to create an agile, entrepreneurial organization that can innovate and thrive in complex, ever-changing contexts. As author Pamela Meyer explains, there is much more involved than a reconfiguration of the org chart and job descriptions. It requires relinquishing the illusion of control at the very foundation of most management training and business practice.

Despite most leaders’ approaches, “Agility is not simply accelerated planning.”  Unlike many agility books on the market, The Agility Shift provides specific, actionable strategies and tactics for leaders at all levels of the organization to put into practice immediately to improve agility and achieve results.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION – Move from planning to preparation

The world is constantly getting more complicated, the lives we lead are gaining complexity at an ever-increasing rate. This rapid cultural change has meddled with the assumption that the near future will resemble the recent past. Change now happens so fast that the planning processes currently in use are obsolete.

Albert Einstein is quoted as saying “We cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking that created them.” Another Einstein quote is closely linked: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

If today’s leaders want to move out of the same cycle of planning and programming to just keep up, they are going to have to make an intentional shift in their thinking and actions.

It’s time to make the shift from planning as an event to developing a focus on preparing as a process.

The Agility Shift is the intentional development of the competence, capacity, and confidence to learn, adapt, and innovate in changing contexts for sustainable success.

Three Cs of the Agility Shift

Agility competence consists of the skills, knowledge, and abilities necessary to respond to the unexpected and unplanned, as well as to find opportunities in new development and emerging trends.

Agility capacity is the degree of uncertainty and volatility in which a person can be effective. For example, a team may have the competence to get a new product to market on a tight deadline, but it may not have the capacity to do so if the deadline changes several times, if the product specifications change, and/or if there is a worker strike at the manufacturing facility.

Agility confidence is the human need to trust in one’s own and others competence and capacity to be effective in changing contexts.

The 3 Shifts Needed for Agility

From Planning to Preparing

The agility shift is a shift from planning – with its focus on a linear process with a beginning, middle, and end resulting in an actual plan – to a focus on preparing, where all aspects of the system continuously develop the competence, capacity, and confidence to perform effectively in changing contexts.

From Events to Processes

Organizations must make both a mind-set shift and a practice shift, in which everything from preparing to learning to innovating is continuous, engaging activity rather than simply moments in time.

From Information to Interactions

We operate under the illusion that if we can gain more information, we will not only understand what is happening, we might just be able to control it. The mind-set necessary to improve agility is a change from an overreliance on information and uncertainty reduction toward intentional interaction.

Pamela Meyer, The Agility Shift

A NEXT STEP

The agility shift is first and foremost a shift in mind-set. This mind-set values interactions within the dynamic present moment. It is also a shift from the false comfort of “a plan” to achieving a state of readiness to find opportunity in the unexpected.

Agile leaders, teams, and organizations maintain creativity under pressure. Awareness of available resources is clearly not enough; agile organizations must have the capacity to use their resources creatively and effectively at a moment’s notice in response to the unexpected. Truly agile organizations have a well-developed ability to make shifts that turn those challenges into opportunities.

Using the following SOAR techniques to lay the foundation for beginning the Agility Shift. On a separate chart tablet for each, list each of the four words:

S – Strengths

O – Opportunities

A – Aspirations

R – Results

As a team, discuss the following questions, listing group answers on each chart.

Strengths

  • What are we doing really well?
  • What are our greatest assets?
  • What are we most proud of accomplishing?
  • What do our strengths tell about our skills?

Opportunities

  • How do we collectively understand outside threats?
  • How can we reframe to see the opportunity?
  • How can we best partner with others?

Aspirations

  • Considering Strengths and Opportunities, how should we make changes?
  • How do we allow our values to drive our vision?
  • How can we make a difference for our organization and its stakeholders?

Results

  • What are our measurable results?
  • What do we want to be known for?
  • How to we tangibly translate Strengths, Opportunities, and Aspirations?

By identifying and expanding existing strengths and opportunities, your organization identifies what it does well and expands on that, thus giving you more energy to take action when confronted with sudden changes or opportunities.

Adapted from The Thin Book of Soar, by Jacqueline M. Stavros and Gina Hinrichs

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 62-1, released March 2017


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.