The question resounding from many congregations is, “How can we predict what is going to happen in our chaotic and cross-cultural world?” The answer varies based on what church leaders try to predict. First, regency-leaders simply cannot predict some future scenarios – such as the 9/11 attack on the Twin Towers. While there had been speculation about information in the hands of national security personnel predicting the attack, the average citizen had no access to that information and no way to prepare. Second, regency-leaders can easily predict some future scenarios because of the number of obvious forces driving those events. The idea of continuous change and our need to learn to deal with change is likely the most predictable scenario we face.
Third, for the remaining possible future scenarios, regency-leaders must become students of the future. They must learn to discover and evaluate the unpredictable and important forces likely to change the church’s environment looking for possible extremes that could develop in the future. The regency-leader needs to learn to combine the extremes of the various forces to create word pictures of reasonable scenarios resulting from those combinations. From those scenarios, the leaders need to plan appropriate strategies for each.
Had the leaders of the church that lost everything committed to being students of the future and all that it entails, they would likely have already had a strategy to handle the downturn in the economy. With the scenarios in mind, leaders would have been more sensitive to possible futures, increasing the likelihood of decisions not putting the congregation’s ministries at risk. For example, two years ago a leader might have concluded the economy and technology were the two forces most affecting the church. The economic extremes would have been a “robust” or a “depressed” economy. The extremes for technology would have been “rapidly changing” or “serious abandonment.” Combining the extremes would result in four plausible futures, one of which would have been a depressed economy and rapidly changing technology, the world our churches find themselves in today. While we often cannot pinpoint change, increasingly the unexpected happens and we must learn to adapt and thrive through change.
Change has become constant and broad in its influence. In my early banking career we used to evaluate markets within our national boundaries; but now we deal with the reality of living in a global market where one country’s financial condition can affect the world market. Technology product cycles change so rapidly that when a new product makes it to the market, another developer is already creating a better innovation. The communication media gives instant access to people around the globe, changing the whole world into local neighborhoods.
Today’s regency-leaders need to disciple the next generation of leaders who will have the selfless mind-set necessary to move beyond what they can easily foresee if they are to be comfortable with unknown conditions which may emerge in the future. This will be in contrast to limiting themselves to a narrow perspective based solely on their present experience. Churches will need leaders who are students of the future able to create possible scenarios with enough creativity to build strategies to address the various scenarios our future churches might encounter.
Giving your heart to others by listening to their heart
When you grow a leader who values people you help the whole world