Exponential Thinking | The Brethren Church

Exponential Thinking

Exponential Thinking

Submitted by Brethren Church on Tue, 08/02/2016 - 12:49am

One of the basic tasks a church does is set goals, and then make plans to meet them. Many understand how to set S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, attainable, reasonable, and time oriented) goals, but few regularly see their goals met. As a result, it is not uncommon for a church to set goals and make plans that are easily achieved, and do not adequately challenge people and teams to reach their full potential or see the kind of results that give churches something to celebrate. One effective remedy for this is a technique called Exponential Thinking, first presented by Rick Warren some years ago.
     Once a goal is set, the next step is to answer, "how are we going to do this?" Plans are made to meet the target goal, whether it is attendance, fundraising, or some other measurement. Exponential thinking is that when you start to plan, you ask a transformative question; "What would we do if the goal was ten times larger?"
     For example, if the aim were to have 50 new people attend a church sponsored movie night, you would plan to get 50 people. You would perhaps ask church members to invite friends, put up some posters, hand out some invitations, and maybe even achieve 50 new people. Practicing Exponential Thinking would be to ask, "How would we plan for this if we desired 500 new people to attend?"
     This changes everything! Now we may be talking billboard advertising, significant campaign work, a large number of different efforts to reach far more major groups of people. The result? You stand a far higher probability of seeing 50 new people, and you may even see 100 or more; a real celebration since your actual goal was 50!
     Thinking exponentially about your goals releases a new sense of creativity and inventiveness in your planning team. Old, reliable, and sometimes tired methods won't work, and people and teams are challenged to think in new and creative ways. Logistical issues that you may not have even considered suddenly become important topics. Parking cars for 50 people are one thing, but 500? We may need parking guides and greeters to help them park! Now you may not see 500 cars, but having people greeting those 50 when they enter your lot will make them feel welcome, and you may not have thought about it if you limited your thinking to the stated goal of 50. Exponential thinking forces you to get creative, expand your possibilities, and goes a long way to giving you much more achieved goals to celebrate!
     The Cheyenne Brethren Church had a capital campaign goal of raising $150,000 in five years. We felt pretty confident we could meet that goal; it was a SMART one. We then asked, what would we do if the aim was ten time that much. It changed the entire campaign! We did things we had never done before, advertised and promoted like never before; we worked in a much more intentional and united way. The result? We raised over $170,000, and years after the campaign ended we are still receiving donations from people who caught the vision and continue to support it! Exponential Thinking works! Give it a try, and watch more of your goals become a reality. 
     Mobilize wants to help your church get healthier! If you have a question about church health, growth, and vitality, let us know how we can help! If your church wants help getting healthier, or is interested in the Natural Church Development process we use to assess and promote church health, you can contact Gary Diehl at Gary@brethrenchurch.org or 419-289-1708

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