I'm from the Led Zeppelin generation, brought up on Stairway to Heaven so the very name carries certain meaning ....... ' Oooh, it makes me wonder'
The image of dreaming is a powerful metaphor of engaging the imagination. 'Dream dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken winged bird that cannot fly'
Individuals dream but what about organisations. How do you capture the corporate dream of a group? The whole not just a part…..
Acts 2:17 “I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
One methodology is Appreciative inquiry. We have used this is many contexts to enable groups to explore their joint vision of what they want to achieve together.
Phil. 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things.
Appreciative inquiry works in four stages:
- Describe: the best of what is by telling individual stories of what has worked within their context and then drawing out principles. This is based on the belief that organisations turn to what gives them life. It is NOT problem focused.
- Dream: about what can be, though thinking about what these ideas and principles will look like in the future through a simple exercise
- Design: ‘what could be’ - a road map for the future
- Deliver: ‘what will be’ small actions that bring about change
This can work for groups of 10-20 people or even congregations of 150-200. Larger groups just take more time. The key is handling the process and enabling all present to have a say in what is being produced.
Back to the Future
Having shared stories of what works in pair, get pairs to join together (4-8) in the group –depending on the size) They then review the principles and are given a task of producing a newspaper dates 3 to 5 years into the future (depending on your vision process). They are invited to produce a Newspaper – with a name, headlines – small articles / pictures, This can include International News, local news, sports, cartoon, obituary, award ceremony. Anything. The idea is to be creative but to connect it to stories of what has already worked.
The groups are then invited to share their Newspapers with the rest of the people present. Creativity can generates lot of hilarity and laughter, which in turn produces a sense of energy and connectedness.
From Dreams to Reality
These newspapers then form the basis of group discussion on if that is where we want to head and what we want to see in the future then how do we get there. Groups are encouraged to start to get concrete and focus on what is achievable
The final stage is agreeing next steps. These become corporately owned and provide rich material for leadership teams to craft into vision statements and strategic plans. But the voices of the people have been heard and they can recognise their input.
It is also helpful to finish with individual commitments / public statements (to complete a sentence: ‘as a result of this time together I am moved to …….”
Which is what after all church is about: “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up” Eph. 4:12