Why don’t we stay on the sidewalk?

Why don’t we stay on the sidewalk?
 
It seems when a new business, restaurant or parking lot pops up in my neighborhood they spend a lot of money on fencing, landscaping and design work to try to persuade pedestrians to enter their establishments where they want them to. But inevitably sidewalks are abandoned, landscaping is trampled down and sometimes even fences are reconfigured by the shoppers who are seeking entry to their destinations.
 
I took this photograph and named it “reality.”
 
 
No matter how clever or how well-designed or aesthetically pleasing our solutions are people will blaze their own path. We can try to defend our decisions or cast judgment on why the masses are wrong or we can acknowledge we need a reality check.
 
Why should ministry planning begin with observation?
 
In lean methodology one of the main mantras is “love the problem not your solution.“
 
When I share this quote it’s always followed by nods, sighs of agreement and a-ha moments.
 
So why do we continue to start our ministry planning with assumptions rather than getting out of the building, observing, interviewing and listening to the very communities we are trying to serve?
 
I know it can be scary, I know we can feel vulnerable or even out of control. But I promise, when you listen to those in the community most affected by the issue, you can begin to tackle the issues worth solving. It allows us to measure what matters and focus on spiritual transformation.
 
Do we need new tools to navigate the new paths ahead of us?
 
Traditional ministry planning has been to write a 50 page document that is presented to our committee/board, who will read the executive summary and then file it with past years' plans.
 
New tools and new technologies have been developed that allow us to integrate the latest proven methodology (Business Model Generation, Lean Startup and Lean Canvas) with Spiritual Innovation. As Ash Maurya says, "the old models pushed solutions to communities and the new models allow us to uncover problems worth solving."
 
If you’re interested in finding out more, here are three things I would offer.
 
1) Requested invitation to Lean Faith Launch
 
2) Join me where I’ll be facilitating two workshops on the topic at Spark hosted by Peter Rollins
 
3) Come share your thoughts and insights with me about ministry planning at Evolving Faith Conference at the Lean Faith table.
 
Spencer Burke
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