Unsure about something new? Start with Why

Concentric circles: from inner 'why', 'how', 'what'

When wondering about next steps, it’s easy to ask about what to do, but more valuable to make sure that you have your why sorted out first argues Niall Briggs in the first post of a series looking at planning for mission.

It’s the never-ending cry of three-year olds everywhere: ‘why?’ But so often it’s the last thing on our mind, we want to know what to do. And soon.

It’s so easy to have discussions about what to do or how to do it. These things appeal to our practical, rational minds that are often more focused on whether something is possible (for us) than whether there is a bigger point behind doing it in the first-place.

Starting with values  – the landscape on which our specific why might be built strikes me as being deeply within the Biblical story. A God of love and joy in relationships searching for a depth within the people that can respond in a like manner. God constantly longs for God’s people to be a blessing not just to each other, but to people beyond their community. 

That is of course, easier said than done. We all need examples to guide us and inspire us; some tramlines to point us in the right direction. And that’s where the hows and the whats come into play. Whether they’re short summaries like the Ten Commandments or longer and more complex documents like the Torah or even the teachings of Jesus, it’s easy to get caught up in the details and lose sight of why you’re doing something in the first place.

Golden Circle (Why, How, What) and explanatory text

The same instinct happens in all sorts of places, including organisations of different kinds. In a now famous TED Talk, author and speaker Simon Sinek suggests that we ‘Start with Why’. Whilst the examples he uses (including Apple) are primarily commercial, the idea applies across many contexts, including the Church. 

If you’re short on time, there’s a super short version of the talk in just under 3 minutes, but the longer 20 minute version is well worth the time.

This post is the first in a series about mission planning. Each post is linked to one or more videos. Most of these are gathered into a YouTube playlist.

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