Futuring Your Church:  It Starts by Asking the Right Questions

Guest Post by Allan Love

Note from Bob:  If at first glance, today’s post, seems like it only applies to Church Leaders, you would be wrong!  The “Questions” that Allan shares can help all leaders shape the the future of their companies/organizations.

It has been said, “Your future depends on what you do today.” And since we are talking about moving forward into the future as churches, let’s unpack what we should prioritize today so that our tomorrow is brimming with noble and exciting realities!

Over the past decade, there has been a ‘Niagaratic’ flow of resources to help churches achieve their so-called “2020 Vision.” Then Covid-19 happened! Yet, for some, this intensified the vim and vigor of championing a church’s future. We have been hearing words like “pivot,” “adapt,” “innovate,” “ideate,” “imagine,” “forecast,” “disrupt the disruption,” and so forth – at levels and frequencies we have not heard before. Amid this flurry and in some cases, obsession, of all things ‘church-futuring,’ I have found a very helpful starting place to prepare your church for her future: ask questions.

Every question contains the catalytic power to ignite a quest – an exploration and expedition – into the shaping of the future. I’ve often heard that the best leaders lead from questions and not from answers. (Sidebar: according to Gospel accounts, Jesus asked 307 questions, was asked 187, and only answered 3.)

Here are some questions to ask and work through with your team, as you navigate your future direction as a church community. Be both courageously curious and compassionate when working through your questions – fostering a safe and motivating environment.

Known as the 4 Helpful List questions, they can be asked in a variety of contexts – to help evaluate teams, departments, or the organization as a whole:

  1. What’s working? How can we leverage these successes here?
  2. What’s broken? How do we fix it?
  3. What’s missing? What should be added or changed?
  4. What’s confusing? How can we bring clarity?

Within every question, we should also ask, “Why?” Why is it working, broken, missing, or confusing? “Why” questions help us get to the root of the matter.

Ask these 4 questions about the following areas of ministry:

  • staffing (hiring/transitioning, training/resourcing, and team health)
  • strategy (mission, values, vision, pathways, and measures/outcomes)
  • systems (communication and decision-making)
  • services (Sunday morning and all that is offered throughout the week internally and externally)
  • structure (in all the ways we are organized or not)

As part of this questioning process, evaluate both the church’s scalability and sustainability. (It’s all about learning to travel lightly toward your destination.) These elements are essential to creating and cultivating a reproducible movement that both expands (leading more people to Jesus) and transforms (leading people to live more like Jesus).

Furthermore, indispensable to any church’s ‘futuring’ is the ongoing query: are we operating out of a place of attunement (discerning and knowing God’s vision for us) and alignment (living that vision out in unity) – resulting in a beautiful harmony between both focus and flow?

Here are some further questions; these may feel like they have a ‘leading’

quality, but that’s intentional. Sometimes questions need to be designed to cause us to think in a manner that may not be natural for us – getting us out of our comfort, bias, and default zones. It’s often what we don’t know that we don’t know that gets us into trouble.

  • In what ways has our community around us changed? What needs to change about our leadership and the way we do ministry in order to reach and relate to our changing world?
  • If we had to function without our lead pastor for a full year, starting tomorrow, in what ways would our church change (or not)? Would it survive? Why or why not?
  • What does our budget reveal about what we value and prioritize? Does our budget reflect kingdom values? Does anything need to change with our financing? If so, how? And when?
  • In what ways could our facility be stewarded in a better way, especially to bless, support, and partner with the community around us?
  • In what ways could we strengthen the way we equip and mobilize our people for kingdom life and ministry? Could we incorporate the elements of different learning styles (such as KOLB and VARK) and recent insights from the field of neuro learning?
  • As you review the demographic data of your church family (economically, socially, and generationally) what kind of actionable insights do you gain about the current and future health of your church
  • If you had to imagine what your church would look like five years from now, what would it look like? What changed? How will those changes happen?

This list of questions is unending – go ahead and create your own! There is no question in my mind that rightly designed questions help you architect the way forward. At Chemistry Staffing we love to help pastors and churches work and wrestle through their questions, and, as well, to ask questions that may help unlock more fully the imaginative and innovative capacities of your team.

Allan Love



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