Responding to Yesterday vs. Reminiscing about the Future

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Stop what you’re doing.  Just stop for a moment.  If you think about the solutions and strategies you’re currently queuing up…are they about responding to yesterday’s issues?  Or are they about solutions and strategies that solve tomorrow’s challenges?

I love this line from Bill Taylor’s Practically Radical:

“The art of starting something new…is a matter of ‘reminiscing about the future.'” [Click to Tweet] (p. 119, Practically Radical)

Insurance executive, Robert MacDonald was asked how industry upstart LifeUSA could compete with Prudential and New York Life.  “The question is, ‘How can they compete with us?  They were responding to yesterday’s market.  We were reminiscing about the future.'” (p. 120, Practically Radical)

Need practical examples?  How about these:

  • Yesterday is about how to enlist more adults into on-campus classes.  The future is about connecting across the cul-de-sac.
  • Yesterday is about how to recruit more people into the 12 week leadership training course.  The future is about helping ordinary people learn to practice hospitality and open their homes to friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family.
  • Yesterday is about matchmaking–matching members with pre-qualified and trained leaders.  The future is about equipping hosts to invest in their friends, neighbors, family, and co-workers–and naturally include them in the life-change process.
As Peter Drucker pointed out:
“The important thing is to identify “the future that has already happened“–and to develop the methodology for perceiving and analyzing these changes.”
We have clearly slipped the bounds of the past.  The future is all around us.  It has already happened.  If you want to be part of connecting the widening 60% who will not be reached by the attractional model…now is the time to reminisce about the future.

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

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  1. Brian Phipps on December 21, 2011 at 6:35 am

    Love the challenge Mark, and yes…we MUST anticipate where God is leading us into tomorrow. There is a large group of people who most likely won’t respond to current strategies.  However, there is a significant number of people who continue to respond to those strategies and it is incumbent on us to figure out the “AND.”  Westside Family church was purely an attractional model of ministry for years… now our mission is refreshed and people are joining us on that mission.  Watch out… we are Loving Jesus, Becoming Like Jesus, and Sharing Jesus inside and outside the walls and the country.  I am reminiscing about the future with all of Jesus’ followers engaged in that!  Thanks for your leadership friend…

  2. Anonymous on December 21, 2011 at 6:59 am

    I love it! It is about the AND…and it is so exciting to see what’s happening at Westside and other churches like you. Thanks for jumping in here Brian!


  3. Mike Wagner on December 21, 2011 at 8:58 am

    Not sure where I heard this first but your post reminded me of it: “if you can find your way into the future you’ll retreat into the past.”

    Thanks for sharing and nudging us forward.

    Keep creating,

  4. Anonymous on December 21, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Wow! Great line Mike! Would love to know where it came from. For now…I’ll just remember it came from you!


  5. Roy Moran on December 22, 2011 at 9:48 am

    Cheers to Brian Phipps and the Westside gang.  Know them well, a lot of sharp brains and soft hearts, glad they are on our team!

    At Shoal Creek ( we’ve taken a page from the CPM (church planting movements) folks around the world.  We developed a training session, Following Jesus where you Live, Work and Play.  We teach people how to start Discovery Groups.  A discovery based spiritual environment with a fixed methodology that focuses on obedience.

    The ask for the group is simple, would you like to be a part of discussion to see what God says in the Bible about life?  We have them operational in neighborhoods and workplaces.

    The intent is never to invite to a geographical place (church building or service) but to make disciples where people live work and play.  It is not about growing a church but obeying the final command of Jesus.

    Because we are tapping into the movement thinking that has developed around the world, the principles are very different.  For groups to multiply leaders need to get out of facilitating the groups and get into behind the scenes coaching as quickly as possible.  Groups stay small and don’t add members once started, but do start new groups quickly as interest in joining arises.

    We’ve fit a traditional attractional model together with a movement model using a Hybrid Car as a metaphor.  On one side we say Come (Matt 11:28) on another side we say Go (Matt 28:19-20).  Principles on each side differ because one is a gas engine the other is electric.  You need to know which side you are on to know which tools to use. ( starting at about 22 mins for deeper explanation)

    I think the CPM principles as being practiced around the world have a play in North America to achieve exactly what you are advocating in this post.  We’ve always thought groups and targeted our thinking within the confines of a church rather than think groups and realize that there is a God at work in our world and people starving for genuine, non pressured discussion about real life and death issues.

    Continuing to design Groups to facilitate growth of consumerist Christians without infusing a radical element of pre-conversion discipleship is akin to rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic.

    I use the term pre-conversion discipleship to illustrate that our division of evangelism and discipleship has created a fixed mindset that puts us at odds with Jesus.  Jesus called unconverted men and women to a discipleship group.  He created an environment of obedience which led to conversion.  So the patterns of discipleship were set on the way to the Cross not a conversion to the Cross then another conversion to a Discipled life.

    Enough!  Sorry for the diatribe.

    Jan. 23-25, 2012 in Kansas City MakeDisciples.Us,, and are sponsoring an event to further this discussion.  More info at MakeDisciples.US.  

    Mark would love to have you be a part of that discussion.

  6. Anonymous on December 22, 2011 at 11:10 am

    You guys are on to something great! Thank you for reminiscing with us! I’ll check out the event…it does sound interesting.