How do we respond to those trends? Kinnaman raises four superb questions in his article. I will quote his questions and share my thoughts.
“Do you have practices in place to clearly see reality?”
The question raises its own question. Are we willing to consider what is beyond our current practices and beliefs? It is difficult for many of us (most of us? everyone?) to seriously listen to reality beyond our current situation. If we are not going to be overwhelmed by the changes in our culture, technology, and regulatory burdens we need to get outside ourselves. We need to have some way to see clearly what is happening around us.
“How responsive is your organization to new opportunities?”
You recall the old joke: Question — how many Baptists/Catholics/Lutherans/fill-in-the-blank does it take to change a light bulb? . . . . . . . .
Answer — What’s change?
We need to have the willingness and flexibility to adapt to the changes taking place around us. We need to have the flexibility (Kinnaman calls it ‘nimbleness’) to take advantage of new opportunities that arise because of those changes. Change is hard.
“What are we asking people to love?”
With all our fundraising and communication, where are focusing our donors and constituents attention? Are we focusing them on healthy spiritual growth or turning us in on ourselves? I think I can see where Kinnaman is going with this question. I hope he will develop it in more detail.
“Are you prepared to revise your scorecard for impact?”
Can you say ‘outcome measure’? We can’t continue with a focus on the dollars spent or the number of people in our program as the sole measure of success. That data is important, but the entire NPO world needs to figure out how to measure what actually changed as a result of the inputs (dollars spent) and outputs (number of people in the program). This is the topic of a lot of discussion in the NPO community today.
By the way, check out the Barna site and the research they make available for free.
Barna is developing some pages that expand on this discussion. Check back for more material. I look forward to more of their thoughts on these issues.