I have written many times about the preferred future (for small group ministries or otherwise). The first time I remember hearing the term was at a Fuller Church Growth workshop in 1992. In a session on vision I heard that Tom Peters described vision as a "picture of a preferred future."
I believe the preferred future is what you’ve clarified as the ultimate win; what you’re trying to produce. It’s what you will one day call success. It is worth sacrificing for, investing in, and it actually ought to keep you up at night. Or at least wake you up in the middle of the night.
Arriving at your preferred future is never something you can do in a single move.
Arriving at your preferred future calls for a lifetime achievement award.
Approaching your preferred future is almost always accompanied by a suddenly illuminated vision of a destination that is only visible or imaginable from the vantage point of what you thought was the preferred future.
Approaching your preferred future is almost always accompanied by a suddenly illuminated vision of a destination that is only visible or imaginable from the vantage point of what you thought was the preferred future. Click To Tweet
Here are the 5 keys to arriving at your preferred future:
1. Choose a preferred future with which you can be truly preoccupied.
If you can imagine anything less as satisfying or good enough, you'll never make it. It must be a grand enough destination that upon arrival you can say with the Apostle Paul, "For me to live is Christ and to die is gain." See also, Is Your Preferred Future Grand Enough?
2. Build a team that shares the dream.
More and more I’m finding myself talking about the importance of a great team in building a thriving small group ministry. Another way I’m saying it is that thriving small group ministries are never built by sole proprietors. The African proverb says it best: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” A preferred future worth the investment of a life can only be reached with a team. See also, Sole Proprietor? Or Builder of a Great Team?
3. Keep one eye on the preferred future and the other eye on the next milestone.
Maintaining focus on the end in mind, using preferred future language to cast vision for the promised land is a non-negotiable. Milestones that are clearly visible in the near future enable your team to stay focused and encouraged.
Maintaining focus on the end in mind, using preferred future language to cast vision for the promised land is a non-negotiable. Milestones that are clearly visible in the near future enable your team to stay focused and encouraged. Click To Tweet
4. Choose milestones that lead (and only lead) to the preferred future.
The identification of milestones is an essential step in any hope of arriving or progressing toward a preferred future. Milestones also play an important role in the strategy of developing “next steps for everyone and first steps for their friends.” A milestone isn't a milestone unless it leads (and only leads) to the preferred future.
5. Celebrate with abandon every milestone attained and win experienced.
The camaraderie of a team is a special thing. Part of budgeting for the preferred future is the investment is providing for refreshment and replenishment along the way. See also, 10 Principles for Building a Thriving Small Group Ministry and Top 10 Ways to Build a Culture of Celebration.
Need more help?
Based on my most requested and most popular workshop, Design, Build and Sustain Your Small Group Ministry will give you:
- An accurate diagnosis of your current situation (limiting factors, barriers, untapped resources and advantages)
- The tools that will help you identify future opportunities with the most upside.
- Resources that help you craft a preferred future that will help your ministry move in the right direction
- The strategies that will help you move in the direction of your preferred future and stay on course.
You can find out more right here.
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