Recession-proof Christian Life
3/11/11 at 02:07 AM 0 Comments

Characteristics of a good Church Visioning process? Part II

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The previous post highlighted the value of a visioning exercise in your faith organisation.  This article describes how you can get started.  You many need an external facilitation – preferably someone neutral but who understands the peculiar context involved...to promote openness and completeness. The process is however not a complex one.

Nehemiah 2[18]  Then I told them of the hand of my God which was upon me for good, and also the words that the king had spoken to me. And they said, Let us rise up and build! So they strengthened their hands for the good work.

Sound plans are aspirational with stretch goals but still perceived as worth aiming for (not a Pharaoh-bricks-without-straw syndrome)... Most visioning discussions will highlight how others have succeeded against odds to strengthen faith to show the dream is possible. There should be a pull rather than a push.  This is achieved by thoughtful leadership communication explaining possibilities.

Good participation and involvement and change management actions(Excluding any important stakeholder heightens risk associated with resistance).

Strong leadership with a clear direction to shape direction (The absence of key leaders conveys that plans may not be implemented or taken seriously)

Comprehensive context setting to know current positions, issues and new possibilities.  Good pre-analysis of performance indicators and presentations on new frontiers and best practices to break old-thought chains. Quality prework and analysis is involved.

Credible quantification of aspirations, benefits and progress to enable tracking and measurements. Targets and plans should also be shared in a simple way - easy to remember.

How do you go about setting out a vision?  In summary, there are typically three broad steps to get started.

1.Where are we now – also called Context Setting – covers how we got here, how have we done so far... what were our victories and where did we fail?  External context – what are others doing (better)...what are the available technologies and opportunities available ... what is threatening our current success? (This step typically requires extensive prework and depth of analysis...and can shape new ideas)The facts should essentially speak for themselves as much as possible. Presentations to break paradigms are also useful. If you want bold transformational change you need courage to paint a “burning platform” otherwise plans may be drab.

Nehemiah 2 [13]  I went out by night by the Valley Gate toward the Dragon's Well and to the Dung Gate and inspected the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and its gates, which had been destroyed by fire.

2.What do we stand for, why do we exist and how do we see ourselves in the future ( 5 yrs or ten years horizon) This step tends to be done in groups and consensus building mode...typically there should also be some top-down thoughts by leadership.  There could be a lot of discussion here and consensus should be distilled through careful facilitation.

3.What do we need to do to get there? How would we deliver the plan? Who does what?  This is perhaps the tougher aspect as responsibilities for actions are shared - backed by adequate resourcing to get things done. Processes, people, culture, technology will require change initiatives and new thrusts to bridge the gap to where we want to be.  At least 65% of the time should be given to this step - which involves group and plenary discussions ... as well as several break-out sessions and brainstorming.

Habakuk 2[2]  And the Lord answered me and said, Write the vision and engrave it so plainly upon tablets that everyone who passes may [be able to] read [it easily and quickly] as he hastens by. [3]  For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end [fulfillment]; it will not deceive or disappoint. Though it tarry, wait [earnestly] for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behindhand on its appointed day. 

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