“The effective association of the future will remain conscious of its heritage, its traditions, and its denominational connections—but not at the expense of its kingdom-consciousness. It will support and encourage kingdom-focused churches within the context of their particular denomination and outside of that context. It will work unceasingly to forge new relationships and partnerships with a variety of churches of like faith and practice. Why? Not in order to grow bigger or better, but so that God’s kingdom might come on earth as it is in heaven. May God grant us the courage to cooperatively “seek his kingdom.” (Day, 2009, p. 240).
The future of associations is unwritten. Associations may be an outdated model, or they may be on the verge of a resurgent relevancy. Scenarios are powerful illustrations of what is plausible about the future. However, what happens when we step back from the picture and are not happy with the result? Answers to “what if” questions devised through scenarios are a good means of preparation, but what about plans? Shaping the future, rather than reacting and adapting to it, begins with the question, “What would we prefer to happen in the future?”
After careful examination of the assumptions, conclusions and thoughts that went into building this set of scenarios, and after reflecting on the future worlds that would result from these factors, it is now our responsibility to apply this learning to our current circumstances. If plans and decisions are not made now, then we will still be unprepared for a future that we understand. Therefore, the following questions are offered as a means of helping our readers digest the information presented in this report.
Imagining the future to have unfolded according to each of the scenarios above:
- Am I happy with how the future turned out? Why or why not?
- How did the body of Christ enable the future to unfold as it did? Was it helping or hurting the world through its actions?
- If the gospel successfully penetrated that world, what would that look like?
- In light of that success, how was the church successful? What would be the most effective strategies for presenting the good news of the gospel to that world?
- What would be my responsibility in helping these strategies to be effective? What is the role of my local church or my personal calling in helping to engage that world?
In the event that the future did not unfold as you would have liked:
- In comparison to the worlds presented in the scenarios, what is my preferred vision of the future?
- Given the current state of the world, what must change or begin to change now in order to help bring about the preferred future?
- What would be my responsibility as an agent of those changes? What is the role of my local church or my personal calling in helping to enact those changes?
- What can I begin doing today that will help realize the preferred future?