Keynoter: How do we get to the change we dream about?
In the third segment of his keynote address, the Rev. Chris Nelson looked at the topic of moving into the future as the Church and as individual congregations.
We know where we are and where we stand, and it’s not all good, but there is no question about how God calls us into the future.
He invited the audience to dream with him, to find a vision for what the future might be. He offered the audience a framework for their dreaming – which is free. It can be – it is – the most important job of the Church’s leadership, Pr. Nelson said. “God has already out-dreamt me,” he added, quoting Ephesians 3:20-21. If you don’t have profound dissatisfaction for the way things are, you have no need to dream, he said.
There is a model for this in the business world. Fast Company magazine featured a strategic planning process called TINA: There Is No Alternative. It is strategic planning by story-telling – dreaming and then asking questions about how you get to that spot.
Technology is huge, Pr. Nelson continued. For example, people usually visit your church first by going to its website. How to leverage this for your congregation’s ministry? Younger people look for an experience on the web, not just for information. It’s got to be interactive.
Pr. Nelson gave an example of one of the stories he wrote as part of the TINA process for his congregation. As they determined strategic directions to get to a certain point in the future, they committed to saying “no” or “not yet” to some things. “When you end up doing everything, you end up doing nothing very well,” he said. Have a laser-like focus, he advised. “The power to say no is the power to focus, and I think that is something that we need to learn how to do.”
He left the audience with two thoughts (paraphrased):
• From Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Our call is not about us but about how to share the Good News of Jesus with the world.
• From Jeremiah: God has plans for us.