Chapter 4 in Simple Habits for Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders is titled “Create A Clear Vision for an Unclear Future.”  Let us pretend together that I asked Jennifer Garvey Berger and Keith Johnston to help me with VISION in my context as Conference Superintendent.
The graphic above is the current vision statement for our Conference. Healthy, Lifegiving, Praying, Prevailaing, Multiplying, Pastors and Churches. Don’t get me wrong, it is a good vision statement. It says a lot of why we exist as a Conference. My predecessors lived this vision out. Of course, it doesn’t fit on a t-shirt like Peter Drucker would recommend , but nonetheless, it is good. Unfortunately, hardly a Pastor can remember it in our Conference and probably, neither can any reader of this Blog. I can hardly even remember it, and I am the new Superintendent!
It might be wise to take into consideration what Berger and Johnston said about our age of VUCA: volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity , as well as, “The problem for leaders today is that as the world changes so quickly, the future becomes far less predictable, the options become exponentially increased, and the way we need to think about those options shifts.”  It may be time for a new vision for our Conference.
The Western Conference of the Evangelical Church is 30 churches, 2 Camps and a Bible College. 8700 worshipers gather on a week-end in our four states (ID, MT, ND, WY). Two churches average around 2000 attenders each, 7 churches are below 50. Our middle church has 106 average in attendance which is only slightly above the national average of 103, according to Outreach magazine . Our Conversion rate last year was 15.3%, not too bad, but only 25% of those were baptized. Average attenders in our Conference attend only 1.8 times a month at most. We are not even keeping up with population growth with an increase in church attendance and Kingdom engagement.
Our authors suggest VISION should include multiple perspectives towards “experimentation” and “safe to fail zones” and “nudging boundaries” and “guardrails”.  I am not sure how that applies to church work, because honestly, we cannot afford to fail–eternity is at stake, but I get it. Let’s try some new paradigms! New wine into new wineskins…
The church world is getting more complex and uncertain, for sure. But how do we respond? Berger and Johnston suggest to “engage with complexity, but keep it simple”.  They also suggest to map your “polarities” and “attractors” while strengthening the attractors.  I would also suggest vision must be measurable to be attainable, at least that is what I learned from being a teacher, coach and athletic director.
So here we go! This is my simple, new and evolving vision for our Western Conference of churches:
FAITHFUL AND FRUITFUL, CHURCHES AND PASTORS
The “guardrails”: Faithful to the Word, faithful to the Gospel, faithful to our calling, faithful to our spouse, faithful to our families, faithful to our churches, and faithful to our communities…
The measurable “attractors”: Fruitful with conversions, fruitful with baptisms, fruitful in making disciples, fruitful in prayer, fruitful in planting new churches, fruitful in holiness, and fruitful in sanctifications…
It fits on a t-shirt. It is measurable. It is simple, even I can remember it and I can definitely get behind it.
But is it safe to fail? Our authors suggest building experiments to gauge whether it is safe to fail. How would this work in the church world? Well, thanks to some ideas I gleaned from Trish in our LGP Elite 8 Cohort, at the same time I unveil our new vision (which by the way is next Wednesday), I am going to unveil LEADERSHIP GRANTS of up to $10,000 each for churches and pastors to try to expand God’s Kingdom. The authors suggest these experiments be short term and cheap in the experimental stage , hence the dollar amount selected above.
I am looking for new, innovative, outside the box and probably outside the four walls of the church ideas for Kingdom expansion. For instance, BASKETBALL CHURCH. In two weeks, my town is hosting a travel basketball tournament for middle school kids. Over six hundred kids and their families will descend on my community, all in the name of hoops. Our town of 2000 will double overnight with over 2000 visitors. None will be in church that week-end! This same thing is probably happening on any given week end with your church families as well.
Rather than fight against the travel team athletic world, why not come along side it in the name of Jesus. This former coach and college athletic director could do a half hour of church on Saturday night, and a half hour of church on Sunday morning. The tournament organizers have allowed me a gym and the time to do so. Two opening songs, some prayer, and a 10 minute sermon. Then I will give anyone an opportunity to respond to Jesus. Pretty simple, risky, experimental, and boundary nudging. Probably won’t cost me 300 bucks to put on (see my sign below).
Will it be fruitful? To be honest, I am not sure, but I will be faithful. To my call, to the Gospel and to my community…
Was this the most academic posting I have ever done? Certainly not, but I am once again trying to be a practitioner of the material we are being taught. This Blog isn’t the most intellectual (sorry Noll), didn’t contain national book reviews (sorry Adler), is not very theological (sorry Grenz and Olson), and certainly is not full of critical thinking (sorry Paul and Elder).
However, as our authors suggest, these are complex times. Minus well try it. New wine into new wineskins!!
 Berger, Jennifer Garvey, and Keith Johnston. Simple Habits for Complex Times: Powerful Practices for Leaders. Stanford: Stanford Business Books, 2016. 82.
 Triggers, Jeremy. “Your Leadership Mission Should Fit on a T-Shirt!” Marshall Goldsmith. 2011. Accessed February 28, 2019. http://www.marshallgoldsmith.com/articles/leadership-mission-fit-t-shirt/.
 Berger. 8.
 Berger. 9.
 Evans, Scott. “Outreach 100 Largest and Fastest Growing Churches 2018.” OutreachMagazine.com. October 24, 2018. Accessed February 28, 2019. https://outreachmagazine.com/outreach-100.html.
 Berger. 94.
 Berger. 32.
 Berger. 87.
 Berger. 109.