In What Comes Next? Shaping the Future in an Ever-Changing World – A Guide for Christian Leaders, we use the eight elements of our Futures Framework to teach you how to think about the future, disrupt the status quo, and leave a lasting impact. This futures thinking process is a proven solution for executives, entrepreneurs, pastors and anyone in between that struggle to respond to an ever -changing world. Whether you run a multibillion-dollar company, shepherd a small local church, or are just getting started with a brilliant idea on the verge of launching a new industry, this revolutionary method will forever transform the way you think about the future. Below is a simple, digestible and informative narrative that highlights the key themes in each chapter.
WHAT COMES NEXT?
Shaping the Future in an Ever-Changing World - A Guide for Christian Leaders
The book opens with kind words by Will Mancini, a church consultant, ministry entrepreneur and mentor to us. He has written six books, including Younique, Clarity Spiral, God Dreams, Innovating Discipleship and Church Unique. Check them out! He describes the Futures Framework as “a breakthrough master tool that will expand your imagination and focus your next steps in our ever-changing and chaotic times.” Well said.
INTRODUCTION: An Invitation to Join Us on an Adventure
This is your invitation to go on an adventure with us. We’ll be there with you every step, equipping you with a new way to prepare for the future and giving you practical examples from our past experiences to encourage you. All you have to do is take the first step. We promise that you’ll never want to look back.
CHAPTER 1: The Future Belongs to the Curious
The chapter opens, appropriately, with a story about space exploration and then encourages you to think and play like a child – to be curious in this journey. After all, kids really are the best futurists. We discuss why kaleidoscopes are so powerful and how the rest of this book is your opportunity to pick up a kaleidoscope and, with each turn of it, see fresh possibilities for your future. With enough twists, we’ll show you how to combine these insights into a clearer vision of the future.
CHAPTER 2: Into the Unknown
We share the story of Sir Ernest Shackelton, a polar explorer who is best known for his successful failure. You may relate to Ernest Shackleton. As a leader, you also have a weighty responsibility to navigate your team through the chaotic world around you to a better future. You aren’t alone. We all suffer from the human condition of nearsightedness. Thankfully, there is an antidote called “futures thinking.” You can use futures thinking as a way of inspecting your beliefs, habits, and assumptions. We’ll help you understand why the future is actually plural and why having clarity about your preferred future is so important.
CHAPTER 3: The Four Forces
Like the invisible wind that can wreak havoc and destruction, or power our sails as we take flight, there are four forces that are having a significant impact on us today. The four forces —purpose, people, place, and technology— have been around since the beginning of time and their influence remains unchanged to this day. We’ll show you how to identify the forces and and their influence in your world.
CHAPTER 4: The Eight Intersections
The four independent forces are catalysts in a change reaction (to use chemistry terms). As they combine, or mix together, we can see the chaos they are causing. We can choose to react to the reality out our fear of change, or we can respond with a better understanding of how the forces provide us an opportunity to better design solutions, collaborate with others, scale the results and impact our world in the future. To respond better, we need a lens to view the future through which gives us better insight. The Futures Framework is that lens and we’ll explore the intersections of the overlapping forces to see how they are combining to drive change. You’ll start to understand the power of the Futures Framework as proactive, intentional approach to help you benefit from futures thinking to create transformational change.
CHAPTER 5: Identify
We begin our explanation of the framework by describing how purpose and passion combine to form identity. This chapter is all about exploring who we are today and in the future. Identity is fundamental to our human experience and at the core of human activity. Identity is about you and us—all at the same time. We use a well known model to explain Jesus’s identity, so we can understand the three key archetype roles he filled during his ministry – the Prophet, Priest, King. These roles symbolize the threefold mission and office of Christ Jesus and his Church. We will then apply that concept to common leadership roles you may find yourself in, the Entrepreneur, the Pastor and the Executive.
CHAPTER 6: Relate
At the intersection of purpose, people, and place, we next explore how we can connect and relate with people in new ways. What would happen if you found yourself isolated for six months? Would you, like in the story of Michael Siffre, become “a half-crazed disjointed marionette”? The truth is, we all quickly fall apart outside of relationship. Is there a cure for loneliness? And how does our need for relationship tie into the Futures Framework? We’ll dive into breakthroughs in neuroscience and discuss how to build connections that matter because pursuing and developing authentic relationships with others is a vital, core component of the good work you’re doing as a leader in your organization, church, or ministry.
CHAPTER 7: Belong
Belonging is a universal human need, just like our need for food and shelter, but the way we belong is changing. Belonging has always been at the intersection of people and place, but the boundaries between us are being erased. As we transition from an analog world to a digital one, we’ll discuss the fear of losing control, fear of inauthentic experiences, and fear of new places. We’ll help you see why overcoming your fears are so important to your organization, church, or ministry. As leaders, we have a responsibility to the people we lead to create a place where they can belong. As our friends who have traveled to space have explained, having an orbital perspective will help us welcome to people with different experiences and expectations than our own.
CHAPTER 8: Gather
Every Thanksgiving, churches around America sing a 400-year-old hymn titled “We Gather Together.” The hymn reminds us that God instructs us throughout the Bible—as those who find our identity in Christ—to gather together in relationship with others. It’s impossible to relate with others and belong in community without some kind of ability to gather. Our life is best lived with others and that requires two key ingredients: relationship and proximity. Place and people have always been the driving forces of how gathering happens, but we explore how technology is changing the way we gather today.
CHAPTER 9: Design
Have you ever designed anything entirely new and unique? If so, you know firsthand that the design or development of anything new, whether it’s a new product, approach, or system, is really difficult. Designing a better solution for the future starts with knowing and responding to what you want, rather than reacting to what you fear. So, how do you know what you want? Intentional design starts with empathy. As you learn to be an architect of the future, you’ll benefit by understanding and applying three key design principles. These processes will help push you to think differently and see new possibilities.
CHAPTER 10: Collaborate
We often define collaboration as “people working together,” but it’s much more than that. The Futures Framework places collaboration between design and scale because collaboration’s a critical link between your process for solving problems and your approach to grow and scale those solutions. Having built up a firm foundation in first four themes, by this chapter your preferred future will start to take shape as you recognize who you are, how you relate and gather, and what you want. Our attention now turns to inviting others into your story because the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. We’ll explore whats required for a great collaborations (and what isn’t). With this insight, we share examples form our work, to encourage you (since collaborating can be hard work).
CHAPTER 11: Scale
Do you remember when you asked your high school algebra teacher, “How is this actually going to help me in the real world?” Well, today is that day. In this chapter, we show you the difference between growth and scale, as well as how to start a movement. We’ll discuss what it means to be on mission, to serve others, and to be the global church, all which are being redefined right in front of us, and are happening at the intersection of purpose and technology.
CHAPTER 12: Impact
Completing the framework, we’ll help you tie the impact you want to have to the existing mission statement driving your organization. Now that you have clarity on your preferred future, your mission statement will be more than just a series of aspirational words on a piece of paper – it is something that you’ll have clarity to accomplish. We’ll challenge you to consider how your passion meets the world’s needs (to quote one of our favorite books by Frederick Buechner) and then to be a leader who creates transformational experiences by imitating God’s purposes in all that you do. Transformation is God’s ultimate purpose both in us and through us.
CHAPTER 13: Curiosity in Action
This is possibly the most important chapter in the book. This is where we will put it all together. We start by discussing why farsightedness – the ability to envision and articulate a future that’s impactful and feasible – is one of the essential qualities of a leader. Farsightedness is what has set apart some of the most effective and successful leaders of the last century. But, we’ll remind you that only God knows the actual future. Your preferred future is only one of many possible futures, and therefore your goal is simply to better discern and move toward where God’s leading you. The essence of being a farsighted leader is having enough clarity about the future for you to know your direction in the present. When it comes to your preferred future, your primary responsibility is to have faith and get started. Begin by writing it down, visualizing it, and sharing it with others. This chapter is an opportunity to write down the preferred future you have developed, so that in the next chapter you can get started making it a reality!
CHAPTER 14: Paper Rockets
We wanted to write a strategy book, but realized that without a clear understanding of where you are going, a strategy book doesn’t matter much. A clearer vision matters! But, a vision without execution is a daydream. Your actual task is not to foresee [the future], but to enable it. So where do you start? Now having a clearer understanding of your preferred future, you are probably ready to get to work. We’ll introduce you to a systematic approach that you can use today to effectively transform the future. The 5-step process below will help you build a strategy that is prioritized, actionable, realistic, and visionary.
CHAPTER 15: Infinite Possibilities
Going on an adventure requires being brave, overcoming your fears, and permitting yourself to take the first step. After reading this book, you’re now better equipped to think about what comes next and ready to step into the unknown. But for those around you who haven’t read this book, this can all sound scary. Remember, most people don’t like disruption and change. When you’re the one with a vision for a better future, you can quickly feel like an outsider in your organization, church, or ministry, so before our journey together comes to an end, we share some practical tips on how to exponentially increase your likelihood of success.
Why would anyone remain in their seats to sit through the never-ending rolling credits at the end of movies? Stick around and we’ll tell you!
The notes section has always been one of our favorites parts of a book. Did you know – this book has 116 footnotes! But, which chapter has the most?