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What Comes Next?

A Framework to Grow Your Business and Ministry in an Ever-Changing World

by Nicholas Skytland and Alicia Llewellyn

What an unpredictable and unprecedented year 2020 was. For most of us, our personal lives, communities, ministries and businesses endured more challenges than we could have imagined a year ago. The world continues to change faster than ever, yet our mission as Christians hasn’t changed. What if, instead of keeping up with change, you could get ahead of it? In our book What Comes Next? we provide a practical, biblical approach to help leaders at every level prepare for the uncertainty ahead. Not only do we help you understand how the world is changing, but we teach you what to do about it. Along the way, we share stories about the exploration of new frontiers, insights from business development and experiences impacting the world through global missions.

Navigating the changing world and envisioning a better future is more than merely an educational exercise or a discussion topic for leaders

Navigating the changing world and envisioning a better future is more than merely an educational exercise or a discussion topic for leaders. We believe it’s critical for your organization, church or ministry’s survival. Throughout the book, we show you how to use the eight elements of the Futures Framework to better respond to the four forces of purpose, people, place and technology that are causing chaos in the world around us. Based on our extensive work developing strategies and futures for businesses, churches and nonprofits, each element considers a series of questions that will help you assess what’s changing and what you need to do in response to it.

The Futures Framework asks:

How do we identify in Christ?

In our culture, how we self-identify as individuals has never been more controversial than today, particularly when it comes to issues of gender, ethnicity, affiliation and vocation. What does this mean when we let others decide our identity? Or, even more often, when we don’t question how our identity was formed?

How do we relate to others?

Our drive to relate to others is strong and compelling. We have an innate desire to experience intimate and meaningful relationships with one another. How can relationships be deepened and relevant in a time of social distancing? What does authentic connection look like?

How do we belong in community? Relationships drive belonging—which becomes complex in an age of isolation. What does it take to create and nurture a sense of belonging? Does it require physical proximity? Does it need consistency of communication or meaningful exchanges of support and love? How do we live this out in our churches and organizations?

How do we gather together?

Many of us have assumptions about where and why our communities come together. What does this look like when almost everything is online? How is the distinction between local and global being redefined in a world where everything’s connected? More importantly, what does this mean for our customers, our partners, our members?

How do we design solutions?

The day in, day out work of leaders is to solve problems facing their communities. As we architect our futures, we learn how to respond to the forces driving change by putting ourselves in the shoes of those we serve. What are the expectations that they have and that we have? And how can we better meet them?

How do we collaborate with others? None of us can do it alone. Who cares about the same goals we care about? Who serves the same populations or shares the same objectives? Technology has enabled collaboration at an unprecedented speed and scale. Who can we co-labor with to create something we can’t create alone?

How do we scale our vision?

Size is not the measure of success—but almost every initiative could impact more people and communities than we imagine. How can we invite others to contribute to our purpose, and start a movement using technology?

How do we have impact?

By connecting communities and initiatives that share a common purpose, we can accomplish previously unimaginable things. Impact isn’t about the size of our business or the splash we can make in our city. It’s about how we can fulfill God’s purposes for us and for the things He’s called us to.

As leaders and business owners, we often react to the fires burning around us—rather than planning constructively for the future we want to see. Many of us jump straight to the impact we hope to have without first honestly assessing the current state we find ourselves stuck in. Even when we have an idea of how to get unstuck, we may still be looking for a roadmap to help get us to where we want to go. More often than not, strategies for the future are just straight lines from where an organization has been in the past.

As you work through the eight questions at the intersections of the four key forces, consider how what you have learned applies to your situation, dream about what could happen in the future, pray about what God says about it, write down your plan and get to work making it happen. Are you ready to scale your dreams?

Going on an adventure like this requires being brave, overcoming your fears and permitting yourself to take the first step. For many of us, thinking about the future feels risky, nevertheless, Paul’s reminder “to live is Christ, to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21) frames the idea of building trust and taking a risk in an eternal perspective, acknowledging that you are set free to explore the future because you have nothing to lose. Paul invites you to put your trust in God and take a risk to journey with Him toward what He’s already prepared for you. You are free to trust in Him because what matters most is already secure. It’s only when you consider what happens next that you discover how far it’s possible to go.

To learn more about the Futures Framework and how to lead your organization into this next season, check out our new book What Comes Next? Shaping the Future in an Ever-Changing World. CRA

Nicholas Skytland is a Talent and Technology Strategist at NASA. He is also the co-founder of Quite Uncommon, a technology firm that helps organizations build, test and launch new and innovative ideas. He lives in Houston with his wife and three kids and serves as an elder at Clear Creek Community Church.

Alicia Llewellyn is a Digital Strategist and Director of Coworking at NASA. She is also the co-founder of the technology firm Quite Uncommon. Her passion for community and collaboration is fueled by many years as an educator. Besides her work with NASA, Ali has worked as a teacher, a school administrator for Hope for the Nations, a consultant and a ministry director at Antioch Community Church in Houston, TX.

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