How Can We Create and Share Our Vision for Sticky Faith?
This free sample from our all-new Sticky Faith Launch Kit was adapted from Module 1 Part 6, which also includes three accompanying videos (with Launch Kit purchase) and the downloadable handout included at the end of this sample.
How do you define vision?
We’ve heard dozens of definitions, few of which we can remember. By contrast, the definition given by our Fuller colleague Dr. Scott Cormode has captured our imaginations and the imaginations of hundreds of churches. Scott defines vision as “a shared story of future hope.”
This understanding of vision is about inviting people to participate in a new story that is created by weaving together your story, my story, and the biblical story. This is the reason listening is so important in leadership. If you haven’t listened to those you lead, you won’t know what is important to them and won’t be able to connect them to your vision.
By weaving your story and another person’s story with the biblical story, you’re inviting that person into something that’s much bigger than your personal vision. You’re not just asking them to trust you; you’re asking them to trust God.
Once you capture this new story, invite people to live into it. As they do, they will take the new language that you’ve given them and use it to organize their lives. They will begin to see the language and new ideas in places they had not expected. Over time, people will take this new story and make it their own.
To introduce something new, the best place to start is with what’s not new—with people’s longings and hopes. For example, most parents want their kids to have the same commitment to Jesus that they have. To create shared stories of future hope, start with listening for these longings. Also listen for stories that are already taking place in your congregation that are examples of Sticky Faith.
What do we do with our stories?
Once you find a good story about what God is already doing, tell it every opportunity you get. This can be at a church meeting, in a conversation with a parent, or when someone asks you what’s going on in your youth ministry. Create multiple lengths of the story so you can tell it in a variety of settings. Tell it enough that every person in the church can tell it. This story will give people a glimpse of what is possible. It is something that you’re inviting them to imagine and even recreate on their own terms. When they do this, they participate in a shared story of future hope. Who wouldn’t want to do that?
Now it’s time to practice! As a team, work together to develop a story of Sticky Faith that best communicates your vision.
- First, tell a few true stories from your congregation that you think illustrate your understanding of Sticky Faith, and write them down.
- Agree together on one of these stories (for now) that you want to refine and share with others to help communicate your vision—your shared story of future hope.
- Next, have each person write out every opportunity you’ll have over the next week to share this story. This might include a staff meeting, dinner with a student’sfamily, a small group gathering, or a chance meeting with your lead pastor in the hallway. Talk about what version of the story you would share in each of these settings and how the story leads into a conversation about Sticky Faith. You’ll all want to be prepared with a length that will fit any situation.
- Take a few weeks and share the story as much as possible. After that time, come back together and talk about how it went. Use the “Telling shared stories of future hope: How’d it go?” handout to lead your discussion. You might want to modify the story based on what you learn. You might also want to create a few imaginary stories of what the future might look like—stories of students, families, or the whole congregation. Consider doing this exercise with your entire youth ministry volunteer team and see what stories emerge (Module 2, Part 3 provides tools for a team training session on this).
Continue to share stories until everyone in your church catches the vision and can retell your stories! When we asked churches who had been through our cohort process what they wish they would have done differently, the most common responses centered around wishing they had communicated earlier, more often, and more broadly to parents and the congregation, and by telling stories more clearly. Buy-in can’t happen without loads of communication. In fact, we usually ask leaders to imagine how much they think they need to communicate about a change, and then double it.
Team Debrief: How’d it go?
• What kinds of reactions did you get when you shared the story?
• What do we make of those reactions? What can we learn from them?
• How well can we articulate the ministry changes this story represents? If the changes aren’t clear, is there another story that captures our hope more vividly?
• For those who were excited about the vision, how could we invite them to participate in moving this vision forward?
• What can we do to ensure we communicate our story to everyone in the congregation?
• What are some small changes we can begin to make that would move us toward the Sticky Faith vision captured in the story? What do you think our next steps should be?
More resources for creating and sharing vision stories:
• “Building Your Company’s Vision” – A Harvard Business Review article by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras that explains the importance of a vision, as well as how to build one.
• “Two Sticky Seniors” – A video by Lars Rood that tells the Sticky Faith stories of two students
See this sample in the Launch Kit itself:
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