Start-up Guide for Leaders
MISSIONAL COMMUNITY What you need to know to start making disciples who make disciples Menlo Park Presbyterian Church March 17, 2012
GO! One of the most critical words in Scripture is “Go.” Jesus says, “Go” and make disciples. The very nature of God Himself shows that God is a God who “goes.” He sends leaders, teachers, prophets and, eventually, sends His own Son. God “goes.” He doesn’t wait for people to come to Him or wait for people to “attend church.” The church, as God intended, is made up of its people, always out in the world, tangibly expressing the love of Christ to anyone they meet. Jesus said to his followers, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you.” Jesus showed us what it means to “Go.” Now it’s our turn to walk with the Spirit and do the same. God is calling us to love our neighbors, co-workers, schoolmates, etc., actively. At the heart of missional communities must be the word “Go.” Where is He calling you to impact the Kingdom around you for Him?
God is calling us to love our neighbors, co-workers, schoolmates and others, actively.
contents Introducing Missional Communities
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What is an MC? Why are MCs valuable? Where did the idea come from? How does MPPC support MCs?
Is God calling you to lead an MC?
8 9 10
Ask yourself 3 questions Make a choice Get a coach Keep listening to God
You, the leader
11 12 13 14
Try out a rhythm of gatherings
The first-year journey of a typical MC
Bring the kids!
FAqs About MCs
16 20 22 24
Assembling your leadership team Maintaining a high-functioning team An innovation process for exploring a social challenge Partnering with other MCs, ministries and third parties
introducing: Missional communities You're invited to experience a vibrant expression of the Jesus way of life: missional community. We've seen a worldwide movement toward missional community among people from different backgrounds, denominations and socioeconomic groups. After praying, learning and talking about MCs, our leaders and staff realized that missional communities are an ideal way for MPPC to act on the Great Commision of Jesus:
Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In other words, make disciples! Missional communities make disciples the way Jesus did, through three distinct dimensions of his life: UP - deep connection to his Father and openness to the Holy Spiritâ€™s direction IN- ongoing investment in relationships with people OUT - going out into the broken world to love, serve and develop relationships with people
What is a missional community? The form of a missional community is simple: a lay-led group of people, about the size of an extended family, doing Godâ€™s work together outside the walls of the church. The power of a missional community comes from members making disciples, just like Jesus did, through these three dimensions of life: UP - worshiping, praying and discerning together, allowing the Holy Spirit to lead their choice of mission IN- developing authentic relationships through spending time with each other r e g u l a r l y and holding each other accountable for missional work and spiritual growth OUT - choosing to serve and love a particular group of people out in the community, until those people ask why
Why are MCs valuable? MCs focus on making disciples, who then can make other disciples. By integrating UP/IN/OUT, we hope to fulfill our vision: to lead our generation into a transforming relationship with Jesus (UP) and authentic community with each other (IN), so the whole Bay Area can flourish (OUT).
Where did the idea come from? Missional communities aren’t a new concept; in fact, they’re a reflection of how the early church worked. The current iteration of missional communities started in 1990s England, when an Anglican minister in an inner city London congregation grappled with the issue of church decline and rethought what “church” could look like. He and his little flock experimented with groups of different sizes that went out to witness and serve people with amazing results. By the end of the 90s, missional communities had started to spread across England, then moved into Europe, the United States, SouthAmerica, Africa, Asia and Australia.
How does MPPC support MCs? MPPC staff will come alongside MC leaders to encourage, troubleshoot and help each MC reach its potential. Every MC will have a coach (either a staff person or someone in the congregation), who is passionate about helping you shape an MC that succeeds in living on mission and making disciples. We also can come alongside your MC to help you think more innovatively about your mission. We currently are assembling a support team that specializes in innovation. In some cases, MPPC may provide funding to an MC that has a particularly creative, missional idea that can’t be funded by the community itself.
Every MC will have a coach, who is passionate about helping you
Missional community characteristics From Mike Breen’s and Alex Absalom’s Launching Missional Communities, A Field Guide
A missional community: Is a group of about 20 to 50 people Centers on Jesus, helping people become, and then grow as, disciples Has a defining focus on reaching a particular group of people, neighborhood or network of relationships. (May also take on a Kingdom-building cause or challenge.) Often revolves around shared times of food and fun Has a healthy balance of UP, IN and OUT Does not require members to be Christians Is unashamed about following Christ, in values and vision Looks outward through a combination of service and verbal witness Has a common mission focus that’s the glue for the shared sense of togetherness Gathers informally during the week, not just at formal meetings Values small groups within the community for support, challenge and closeness Has leaders who receive ongoing coaching and are held accountable Has leaders who equip, facilitate and release others to serve and lead
is god calling you to lead an mc? We’re praying that God produces a new breed of leaders who: -Dream about how they can grow deeper in Jesus -Are hungry to see other people grow deeper in Jesus -Love people who currently don’t know Jesus -Are willing to change their lives to bless the people God has put in their paths -Can put together a team to help them lead Imagine being part of a community that acts like an extended family in which members: -Grow in discipleship in Jesus and help each other grow -Love each other deeply and hold each other accountable -Develop a focused mission to reach their neighbors, co-workers or another group of people that God’s calling them to impact We’re dreaming about emerging leaders, who want to see people move UP (toward formation in Christ), IN (in authentic community with each other) and OUT (toward their goal to impact others for Jesus).
Jesus Way of Life OUT/ Mission
Is there something inside you that longs for deeper discipleship in Jesus, that calls for an effective way to reach out to those who may not yet know Him? If so, consider leading a missional communitiy. This guide can help you get started.
Getting started Ask yourself three questions
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What is God saying to me? Spend time listening to God. What season of life are you in? Whom do you have a passion to help and serve?
What am i going to do about it? Leadership is not for everyone. How has God gifted and prepared you?
whom do i want to work with? Whom would I enjoy working alongside for His Kingdom? Think about how to make it fun! Spouse? Children? In-laws? Members of my existing small group? Christian friends? NonChristian friends? Who could help me be good news to people and grow spiritually at the same time?
Make a choice Choose from one of two ways to start an MC: 1) by first deciding on your mission or 2) by first forming your community. If you feel passionately about whom you’d like to impact, start looking for like-minded people to form a community with you to make that impact. You could consider leading a Launch Group (Menlo Park campus) to meet people with your passion. If you prefer to serve with friends you already know well and really enjoy being with, then get a commitment from them to be in your MC and together you can choose what mission to adopt. But remember, we want all MCs to invite new people to join. There’s no such thing as a “closed” MC.
Get a coach If you want to start and lead a missional community, contact Eunice Nichols at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-215-3295. She’ll schedule a time for us to meet, discuss your idea and figure out how we can help support you. MPPC will provide every MC a coach to come alongside you and help make your community thrive. We want to see communities making disciples of Jesus, caring for one another and reaching out in support of a Kingdom-oriented cause or a particular group of people.
Keep listening to God Open yourself to feeling wonder and anticipation. Try to view this as an opportunity to use the leadership gift God gave you, and leave the outcome in His good hands. You’ll feel less pressure and more like a grand adventurer. The next section will help you think about yourself as a leader. Review these ideas, meet with your coach to talk about them and believe that God wants to do great things through you.
what are you most excited about right now?
what fears can you recognize?
Ask God in prayer to help you use your giftedness, as well as your willingness, enthusiasm and fears, to build something that will transform people and communities.
You, the leader The spiritual gift of leadership is the divine ability to cast vision and to motivate and direct people to accomplish the work of God. Read these ideas about leadership and write down your reactions.
As much as what you do, what God does in you will be a profound part of this journey. Be prayerful and self-aware in order to learn and be formed.
Consider deeply and often how you need to live your life to make the space and time to stay connected to Jesus.
Leadership is about getting unexpected results. Great leaders live in the tension between passion and humility and bring with them Spirit-led courage.
Every leader needs a leader. Be open and authentic when working with your coach.
Weâ€™ve included expert advice on assembling and maintaining a high-functioning leadership team in the appendix, starting on page 16. Youâ€™ll also find excellent questions to broaden and deepen your thinking process about leading.
exploring mission Mission is key to the identity and purpose of an MC, so early and open group discussion is mandatory. Its mission distinguishes an MC from others, therefore it serves as inspiration, shared purpose and recruitment tool. For many MCs, mission already may be clear during their first meetings; for others the mission will be open for exploration by the group. We expect to see two broad types of mission:
Community blessing These MCs want to live out their faith in their immediate surroundings, extending the hand of friendship to neighbors, with either a general social intent or a more specific intent to help those in need. Most members of these MCS will live in the same neighborhood. Typical activities might be: hosting block parties; visiting the sick, elderly or lonely and repairing or restoring property, such as lawns and gardens.
Social challenge This kind of MC is driven by passion to make a big impact on a broad social challenge, such as human trafficking, poverty or educational inequality. Membership in these MCs depends on commitment to an issue rather than where members live. For these communities, a thoughtful innovation process can help ensure that members scope their challenge realistically, define recipient needs clearly and identify relevant third parties working toward the same goal.
Youâ€™ll find a useful, startof-the-art, yet navigable, innovation process outlined in the appendix, starting on page 22.
building community Try out a rhythm of gatherings Here are some practical suggestions for what meetings could look like for your MC. Every group should determine the best way to gather, based on the needs of its members and the people/cause the MC is trying to serve /address. The following are only suggestions.
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Your MC meets for a potluck at the park, a night out on the town or a meeting in someone’s home. Go have fun! Your goal is to have experiences together that build relationships within the MC. This gathering also could offer members a chance to invite neighbors and friends, so they get a taste of the relationships you’re trying to build. Jesus said, “They will know me by the way you love one another.”
The MC gets together in a member’s home to study a passage of Scripture, pray together and split into small groups to encourage and disciple each other on your spiritual journeys. For this meeting, MC leaders design the agenda to disciple members and to start equipping them to disciple others. Enjoy some social time too; eat, drink and be merry.
MC members gather to plan how to act on the mission that they feel God has called them to or to take first action steps. This is definitely a chance to invite neighbors, friends, co-workers, etc., to join you. For instance, one MC might decide to partner with local government to eliminate human trafficking within their city. This is an incredible entry point for people, since it exposes them to the family of Christ engaged in service.
Again, this is only an example. Choose the rhythm of meetings, kinds of experiences and agendas that work for the mission/cause God has called your group to. You also may want to include special events to serve your neighbors, smaller gatherings held in between whole-community meetings or innovative brainstorms about how to do all of the above. As you discover new rhythms and strategies to allow God to move your group, tell your MC coach.
First-year journey of a typical MC
Bring the kids! Kids need to see faith in action. They need adults who invest in them, really know them and model faith in Jesus. We dream of seeing a network of adults, that surrounds every child and acts as spiritual aunts and uncles.
This matters: Everything we’re learning about faith development in children says that the church needs to be a “family of families.” A practical rule of thumb when thinking about faith development is: Does a young person have FIVE adults in their life, who love Jesus and who are investing in them? If the answer is yes, the odds of that child following Jesus later in life are much higher (Drs. Chap Clark and Kara Powell, Fuller Youth Institute, have done tremendous research in this area). An MC can be an amazing place for kids to experience discipleship in Jesus by actually participating in mission alongside adults. Involve the church in helping you with this important aspect of missional community. Every MC should have a coach, who can share practical ideas and encouragement about involving kids.
As you plan your MC gatherings, keep in mind: • Kids are as much a part of the church as adults. • Involving kids will be a challenge! In some ways, it’s much easier not to involve kids, but the struggle to include them will be worth it, not only for them, but for the adults as well. • Think about what kinds of things kids can be involved with. Try to include them in ways that help them see the love of Jesus and witness adults willing to take risks in how they live to follow Him. • Have you structured gatherings so that adults start to learn kids’ names and build friendships with them? • We suggest planning times for everyone to be together AND time for adults to be independent of their kids. But every MC needs to determine this on its own. • Kids respond well to active experience, stories and prayer. Adults can have a great time being creative in planning all three. 13 |
making disciple-makers At the core of our dream to see the Bay Area transformed is discipleship. A disciple is one who follows another. We want our congregants—thousands of people—to be growing as disciples and living the Jesus Way of Life. More than 2,000 years ago, Paul laid out the goal that feeds our dream: “We proclaim Him (Jesus), admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.” - Colossians 1:28 Jesus Himself left Paul—and us—this charge: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Jesus didn’t say, “Create impressive programs,” or “Try to build the biggest church.” He said, “Go and make disciples.” One critical element of His command to us is: not only are we to become disciples, but we are to learn how to make disciples of others. Making disciples is an essential part of what it means to be a disciple. How can we do that? We want to build missional communities of people where disciples are modeling the Jesus Way of Life. Discipleship happens in many ways, but we’re experimenting with Jesus-Way-of-Life questions. These questions are designed to help leaders grow in discipleship and make disciples of others.
How can I arrange my life to be more like Him?
What practices can move me closer to God?
What experiences can move me closer to God?
What relationships can I cultivate to be closer to God?
MPPC is developing other tools that will use your answers to these questions to help you disciple others. We’d love your help in shaping those tools, so e-mail your ideas and suggestions to us: email@example.com
FAQs About MCs What if I’m already in or leading a small group? We encourage your small group to develop into an MC by having one or more leaders follow the steps described here. We’ll provide a coach to guide you.
What if I’m already in or leading a fellowship group? We encourage your fellowship group to consider UP/IN/OUT, and we’re happy to coach you through the process.
Can I be in or lead an MC that my family members are not in?
We encourage everyone-adults and children-to belong to an MC, preferably together in families.
Are there lists of people in the community who need help?
We’ll soon offer suggestions of people who need help and social challenges that need to be addressed. Watch the MPPC web site.
May I ask friends from other churches to help lead my MC?
You get to decide whom you’d like to work with in your MC.
Whom would I report to as leader of an MC?
We recommend that leadership team members agree to hold each other accountable for their roles.
How much time does it take to lead one?
We estimate you’ll spend 10+ hours/month in getting started and that you’ll want to spend more time with your MC as relationships deepen between you and other members.
What does it cost to lead one?
You and your leadership team will choose when to spend money in your missional work. 15 |
How long does an MC last, so I know what I’m committing to?
Most MCs plan to work together for a year and evaluate what’s working and not working at about 12 months in. At that point, the MC may continue on it’s original course, change it’s mission slightly or choose a new one, rotate leadership roles or, if the group has grown in size, split into two MCs. Missional communities are Spirit-led experiments and we fully expect a range of reports on their success. That’s what experiments are all about.
Why shouldn’t I just volunteer for a non-profit, instead of start an MC?
The beauty of an MC is that it offers spiritual formation, authentic community with current and new friends, as well as outward expression of your love for Jesus through service and disciple making.
What if I want to coordinate with a non-profit that’s not an MPPC ministry partner?
That may be an excellent idea. If you’re unsure, please discuss it with your coach.
May I start an MC to serve people out of the state or country? Your members choose what mission to adopt and whom to help.
Where can I learn more?
Soon we’ll share a number of resources about MCs through MPPC’s website.
What if I want to start a small business to help people?
Please talk with your coach about your idea. We plan to recruit specialists in business startups to help you.
appendix Assembling your leadership team Leadership alone doesn’t make change happen. Great leaders inspire others to bring the best of what they do to the team’s work. We underestimate the power great teamwork unleashes in a group and the hard work it takes to make it a reality. Psychologist Bruce Tuckman described the path that most teams follow in getting to top performance. He coined the catchy phrase “forming, storming, norming and performing” in 1965, and his work has withstood the test of time.
Forming Getting the right people in the right role is crucial in forming your team. You may go through an all-hands-on-deck phase at the start, but keep that period short. As early as possible try to place people according to their spiritual gifts and maturity. Developing your “spiritual-gift radar” and listening to God through prayer are the most effective ways to build your team. Use MPPC’s spiritual gift link to assess each team member’s gifts. www. mppc.org/spiritualgifts Familiarize yourself with the description of each gift, so you can recognize the indicators early. To assemble a great team, consider the skills you’ll need. What do you bring to the table? What do you not bring, and how do you find people who have those skills? Most teams will need leaders and administrators. Gifts of hospitality, prayer, wisdom/discernment and encouragement, too, often are needed. Over time, you or another leader should help each new member understand their gifts and where they could best serve. During the first phase of forming your community, know that most people will be positive and polite. It will not always be that way, nor should it be.
who are you considering for your team and why?
For what roles on the team do you not have someone in mind?
When you ask someone to consider a place on the leadership team, explain what skills you need and why you thought of him or her, specifically. Share the vision you have for your MC and how much you’d like them to be part of it. Let them know the time commitment required and give them time to talk with you about it. Suggest that they, too, think and pray about the role. 16 |
appendix Storming This is when reality sets in; people get nervous (What did I just say yes to?), overwhelmed and frustrated (some by the lack of clarity that exists early on). As the label suggests, this phase can be bumpy and chaotic, like a roller coaster ride. Now is a critical time in the development of your team, and the challenges members face can be the crucible for spiritual transformation. How you view and handle conflict is important now. Conflict is not something to avoid, but, instead, an opportunity to engage in passionate debate around issues, in order to move toward the groupâ€™s vision and mission. Healthy conflict can build buy-in and guarantee that leaders are able to speak with one voice, since debate has led them to the best decisions.
What kind of conflict resolution style did you grow up with in your home?
How would you describe your current approach to conflict?
What kind of spiritual formation and team cohesion might result from handling conflict well?
During this stage, beginning to clarify strategy (How will we accomplish our mission?) and roles (Whatâ€™s my part?) will move you and your team to the next phase.
What are the three to five most important decisions we need to make in order to begin well?
appendix Norming Relationships form, the team achieves organizational clarity and becomes more committed to the mission and goals in this phase. Feedback—about what’s going well and what needs to change—is essential now. Seeing progress toward goals keeps the team moving into deeper working relationships. To prevent “silos” at this point, be sure that each person on the leadership team has responsibility for not only their area, but also for helping set goals for the whole MC. Key components of success now are decision-making, accountability and story telling. The first two shape direction, the last, momentum. Story is a powerful shaper of culture. Make heroes out of ordinary people. Remember that one primary job of a leader is to say thank you. Notice the work and spirit each team member brings to their work.
What are the principal parts of an effective and concise decision-making process?
How do I, as a leader, handle feedback?
Setting goals and assigning roles are both intended to serve the mission, not be the mission. How can you be sure that’s not reversed?
appendix Performing Here’s where the hard work you’ve done in leadership begins to pay off, and it’s pretty sweet to see! Movement has begun, and eventually momentum. This stage starts to feel easy compared to earlier ones. The culture of the community is emerging and will be a magnetic force bringing others to join. Key considerations for you now include celebrating (giving the team a moment to revel in their progress) and developing (everyone on your team, over time, should feel like you’re helping to support their growth). Eventually, in this stage, there’ll be room for the leadership team to dream and talk through new ideas for the future. Movement will create that space. Spend one-on-one time with each member of the leadership team. Continue getting to know their story, give them feedback on their performance, ask for their impressions of team strengths and weaknesses, where God is working in their lives and how you might pray for them.
What types of small and large celebrations might be meaningful to the team?
Who are two or three people in your life who mentored you, and how’d they do it?
When/How might you, as leader, sense it’s time to consider launching another MC out of yours?
For more details, here’s a link to Bruce Tuckman’s work on the stages of team development: http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newLDR_86.htm
appendix Maintaining a high-functioning team As leader, you’ll need to scout potential problems, since even the best leadership teams struggle. Patrick Lencioni tells how to avoid common problems teams face in Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team. He suggests to:
Build and repair trust Trust, he says, is the foundation of a healthy and cohesive team, primarily built around issues of character, competency and vulnerability. Lencioni advises that you not assume trust exists and that you’ll be building and repairing trust constantly, if you want your team to function optimally. Recommended reading: The SPEED of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything, by Stephen M.R. Covey.
Face conflict Avoiding conflict is one of the quickest ways to derail a team. And it poses even more problems in church, where people (not understanding the Gospel deeply) often confuse “terminal niceness” with spirituality. John 1 says that Jesus came in grace and truth. Unearth conflict before decisions are made, since hidden conflict always leaks out somewhere. It’s a leader’s job to actively mine for conflict, setting that as a norm for the team and paving the way for buy-in during key discussions. People more often are willing to approve an idea that isn’t theirs, when they feel heard and understand the other side. Conflict is a tremendous crucible for spiritual transformation. We recommend Crucial Conversations: Tools for Talking When Stakes Are High, by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan and Switzler.
Move toward commitment Your leadership team will be successful only if it makes decisions that are well thought through and wise. It’s easy to leave meetings without knowing exactly what was decided or to keep putting off decisions and drift towards compromise. (Best definition of compromise: mutually agreed upon mediocrity). Making decisions together is one of the most central jobs of a leadership team. Your job, as leader, is to move the team toward clarity and closure.
Embrace accountability Lack of accountability is selfish. It means someone cares more about themselves, what people think of them and avoiding uncomfortable situations than they do about other people. Great teams are committed to the personal and spiritual growth of every team member. The most effective form of accountability is peer-to-peer: the whole team, not just the leader, ensures that everyone is held accountable. To maintain a culture of accountability, team members need the courage to have difficult conversations. Not just one-on-one, but when the issue affects the whole team (which is almost always), in the team meeting itself.
appendix Pay attention to results Teams live in the tension between working hard and knowing that, ultimately, the results are in God’s hands. It’s tempting, though, in a church setting, to dismiss the lack of results, since everyone has good intentions, and you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. One of the main reasons God gave spiritual gifts to people was so they could partner with Him in the work of this world. Work was introduced in the Bible before the fall and is not the result of sin. It’s good and noble effort. You want to be a leader who looks at results, does an autopsy on what happened and identifies course corrections as well as what you learned. Two more thoughts about developing high-functioning leaders:
Make meetings provocative and challenging Most of your leadership team’s work will be done in meetings. You want to have meetings in which members lean forward in anticipation and are engaged. Not all meetings are like that. To make that happen, give people a reason to care. (Start the meeting with a 45-second riff about what’s at stake and why your time together is important.) Separate tactical and strategic meetings. When you throw both kinds of topics together, it gets confusing, encourages tangents and hinders clear decision-making. For more help with meetings, ask your coach.
Building a great leadership team may quite possibly be one of the most rewarding things you’ll do with your life. “Faith is a vision that our destiny is to be absorbed in a tremendously creative team effort, with unimaginably splendid leadership, on an inconceivably vast plane of activity, with ever more comprehensive cycles of productivity and enjoyment… and that is what eye has not seen nor ear heard, that was before us in the prophetic vision.” - Dallas Willard
Appendix An innovation process for exploring a social challenge Innovation is seldom a linear process, but it can be divided into four distinct phases:
Exploring mission is an exercise in group discernment about God’s calling on your individual hearts and how you’ll choose to respond collectively. Expect lots of divergent ideas in each stage. Be patient and open to leading by the Holy Spirit. Don’t rush any step.
Frame a challenge Some MCs will be born when a group of like-minded people comes together to tackle a challenge or to deepen and extend a shared service experience. For these MCs, framing a challenge is easier, but still requires careful thought and discussion. Whether some or most of your community are interested in a particular idea, you should spend time as a group praying and talking about appropriate missional challenges. Some members may have a strong point of view early on; encourage their exploration, but be sure to let others discern at their own pace. A good challenge: —Captures a high aspiration (e.g., eradicate extreme poverty in the Bay Area) —Yet allows all community members—plus others outside the MC—to engage easily and quickly, in a reasonably close geographic area —And provides a basis for naming the MC.
Gather insights After framing your MC’s challenge, the next step is to unpack it—to understand the extent of the challenge and some of the reasons it’s so hard to manage. These insights will give you fuel for great ministry ideas to address the challenge. Insights come in various types, and a mix of insights helps stimulate the best ideas: • Deep Needs: Ask the people at the heart of the challenge what they’re experiencing, if possible. What are their perceived needs (a crucial and often overlooked ques- tion)? What frustrations, blocked ambitions or other indignities do they suffer? Gaining empathy for someone’s plight through interviews, by visiting them in their context or by literally putting yourself in their shoes, is the best way to understand people’s situation. • Constraining Habits: What assumptions influence the current responses to the chall- enge? Few, if any, social challenges are new concerns, so the current solutions must be based on existing theories. What’s being assumed about how solutions are put together and delivered? How could your MC overcome or transcend these limits?
Appendix Gather insights (cont.) • Inspiring Examples: What can you learn from rule-breakers, who tried radically dif- ferent ways to mobilize and deliver aid to people in need? What can your MC learn from: • Kiva about aggregating many small contributions? • Loose Change To Loosen Chains about the power of social media? • The Bay Area Anti-Trafficking Coalition about how changing our daily behavior can influence global issues of justice? Try to involve everyone in gathering insights, and discuss them as a group to make sure everyone understands their importance. Catalyst has useful tools to share, including empathy interview guides and discussion guides for exploring these insight topics.
Now for the fun part—brainstorming ideas for solutions to the missional challenge. Brainstorming is best done in groups of six to ten, for no more than an hour at a time. Begin by writing one or more “How might we…?” questions (HMWs), using your insights for inspiration. For example, if you identified the deep need (in the subject’s voice) I feel lonely all the time, a suitable HMW could be, HMW...bring the isolated into deep community? From this starting point, MC members brainstorm useful responses. Some ground rules will help you manage energy and keep everyone focused: • Defer judgment. Initially, just capture all ideas. Don’t select too soon! • Encourage wild ideas. Suspend assumptions about what’s possible. • Build on the ideas of others. Can you add a twist to make it better? • Stay focused on the topic. Unfocused brainstorms produce weak ideas. • One conversation at a time. Take turns sharing ideas (10 seconds each). • Be visual. Even to Presbyterians, sometimes a sketch is worth 1,000 words. • Go for quantity. Many ideas contain the seeds of valuable themes. Now brainstorm away! When you have plenty of ideas, have MC members select their favorites, using suitable criteria (e.g., Could this idea serve many people?), and begin thinking about how to test the ideas in the field.
Design and test prototypes No idea is born shovel-ready, so right after a brainstorm, encourage temporary teams of at least three to four people to form around ideas they have passion to pursue. Their next task is to plan a quick, cheap and safe method to test the main unknowns about the idea (e.g., Will our idea to hand deliver a gift bag to all single seniors in the Bay Area feel awkward? Is it logistically manageable?). Once the team has validated (or quickly and cheaply disproved!) its first big questions, members can move on to theories about delivery and scaling. Catalyst has several worksheets available to assist with prototype planning.
Appendix Partnering with other MCs, ministries and third parties Your particular missional community has gelled because of the mission it chose. As they explore that mission together, members will feel even stronger bonds and be more motivated to act, maybe even to raise their ambitions. You should lead your MC to commit to having the biggest possible impact on its missional challenge and to holding the community accountable for exploring all feasible methods for success. The key to maximizing Kingdom impact of your ideas and actions is leverage: smartly spreading your effort across networks that have some combination of relevant skills, expertise or access to the people you want to serve. Much of this work happens within the MC, of course: most MCs try to balance inclusiveness with efficiency. Partnering with other groups beyond your MC, however, such as MPPC ministries and third-party non-profits, can accelerate your teamâ€™s progress and amplify its impact. To search for partners with complementary capabilities, start on the Serving pages of MPPCâ€™s website: http://www.mppc.org/serve/strategic_partners_community