Why Vision is Not Enough


Our mission as Christians was the same yesterday as it is today and will be tomorrow. The world, however, is changing faster than ever before, and keeping up feels impossible. The realities of human life—from how we develop relationships to how we use technology to have impact—therefore change rapidly too. It’s critical that Christian leaders take this into consideration as they plan for their organizations’ future.

When we talk about this, many pastors say, “But my church has a vision and a mission! We know what we’re about!” Which is awesome. Vision and mission is vital—and you have taken a huge step in the right direction by doing some of the work around that for your community.

The complication is that neither of those things happen in a vacuum. The world around us is changing all the time, and so the context of that vision and mission becomes really relevant in new ways.

A vision and a mission tell you something about where you want to go and how to get there. But what about when the environment changes? What the how has to change? When the people who are on your team are motivated differently and skilled differently than the last group was? What about when technology can do incredible new things relevant to your mission? How you gathered was different before COVID than it will be after COVID. How teams collaborated before and after iPhones, or Slack, or a million other incredible tools—it’s different. How the boomer generation self-identifies and how Gen Z self-identifies—they aren’t the same.

What if, instead of keeping up with change, you could get ahead of it? The purpose of the Futures Framework laid out in our new book What Comes Next? is to help you take those things that do not change—like the call on your church—and help you think about how you make those a reality in a world that changes all the time.

The Framework gives you a simple and systematic way to ask the relevant questions about your present context so that you can evaluate the possible futures in front of your church and create intentional and effective plans to respond. It addresses how forces are shaping eight particular issues: how we identify, how we relate, how we belong, how we gather, how we design, how we collaborate, how we scale, how we have impact.

So many great ideas never get past the blueprint stage; they remain paper rockets and never have a chance to actually fly. There are so many great visions that know the impact they want to have—they just never work through the other layers of assessment. But here’s the thing about paper rockets: the ones that became real weren’t necessarily the best visions. They were the ones that succeeded because the leaders held on to them and didn’t let things along the way deter them.

The Futures Framework is about putting practical tools in your hands so you see the future for what it could be, see the barriers for what they are, and don’t let them derail the vision God has put in your heart. The Futures Framework was developed to help ministers grow healthy churches—because it helps leaders grow healthy futures.

By Nick Skytland and Ali Llewellyn

In What Comes Next?, strategists and innovation experts Nick Skytland and Ali Llewellyn use the eight elements of their Futures Framework to teach us how to help shape the future, be visionary, and grow our businesses and ministries. This futures-thinking process is a proven solution for executives, entrepreneurs, pastors, and anyone in between who struggles to respond to an ever-changing world. You can read more about it at futuresframework.com.

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