What To Do…When You Wake Up in the Future

Today I want to string together three statements to help you start a conversation that will shift your ministry from hum drum to impact.  It will only start the conversation…but it is a necessary beginning.

Here’s the first statement

In one of the greatest insights that Peter Drucker ever dropped on all of us ordinary thinkers…he said,

“The important thing is to identify “the future that has already happened“–and to develop the methodology for perceiving and analyzing these changes.”

This is genius.  It reflects the reality that the thing you think might happen someday, in another town far, far away…has really already happened where you are!

Question: Could that help explain why many small group ministries cling to a system or strategy designed to meet the needs of its current members (the usual suspects) but struggles to connect beyond 30% of the average weekly adult worship attendance?

Two Additional Statements

In When Growth Stalls, a really helpful article over at HBR, authors Olson, Van Bever, and Verry share some powerful ideas about the assumptions that drive organizations.  Their research examined a large sample of leading corporations with two things in common:

  1. They had been experiencing dynamic growth over an extended period of time.  They were the kinds of companies we’d think of as market leaders.
  2. They had suddenly stalled out and entered a steep decline.  Most of the time their stall was unrecoverable.

In their research they discovered two common threads that all companies shared:

  1. They held assumptions about the way the world worked that were out of step with the way it really worked.
  2. Some of their longest held assumptions proved to be their undoing.

The authors developed two keys for companies that wished to avoid the stall point:

  • Bring underlying assumptions that drive company strategy into line with the changes in the external environment.
  • Recognize that assumptions that a team has held the longest or the most deeply are the most likely to be its undoing.

Need an example of an assumption that affects small group ministry?  How about these:

  • Potential group leaders need to be members of a group first.
  • Potential group leaders need to be members of our church.
  • Apprenticing and birthing new groups from existing groups will provide the new groups we need to connect our entire congregation.

Takeaway: All of us need to recognize that we are not in Kansas anymore (unless you are actually in Kansas!).  The world in 2011 is a very different place right now (as opposed to will be a very different place).  And right now is the time to carefully examine the assumptions that drive your ministry.

Want do you think? Have a question? Want to argue?  You can click here to jump into the conversation.

Need help?  Sometimes a pair of fresh eyes and a strategic outsider can help.  Click here to find out about my consulting and coaching services.

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  • Ian M.

    I am a small-group facilitator (“leader” seems to be distant from what I actually do). The structure of the group is more discussion related than a monologue-type affair of groups that I was in in bygone decades. Everyone can have their say about what we are looking at in scripture.
    I said all that to say this…I find that the entrenched leadership in the average North American church to be quite resistent to change. For example, my pastor (I have been in the same church since I got saved in 1975…long story) has still not used any video or graphic “underlining” to his sermons even yet.The culture has moved enormously, the technological world has lit up. and the church has stagnated. I believe that these things are all connected. Should we ignore the cultural changes, we will be left with a biblically faithful remnant hiding in a back room somewhere, waiting for the stirring of the water. It has happened before in history.