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I recently read a book and attended a webinar by Bob Johanson, a distinguished fellow with the Institute for the Future in Silicon Valley. How I got there was through a very random book suggestion in an equally random email. His book is titled Full Spectrum Thinking. I thought, “I could use some of that,” so I ordered it.

Mr. Johansen is a “futurist.” Wikipedia defines that as “people whose specialty or interest is futurology or the attempt to systematically explore predictions and possibilities about the future and how they can emerge from the present. . . . ” If that isn’t interesting enough (I had not heard of this being a real profession before), in reading the book, my biggest takeaway was the acronym VUCA: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. 

Apparently, this acronym has been around since 1987 (I googled that too.) It was a trendy term used in the business world to say “Hey, it’s really crazy out there!” It’s used to name the craziness and help business leaders put a plan together to counteract the volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world they live in.

Mr. Johansen puts a more optimistic twist on the concept. He names the four negative things VUCA represents and then names four positive VUCA opposites that are needed to alleviate some of the crazy:

Negative VUCA: Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguous

Positive VUCA: Vision, Understanding, Clarity, Agility

That’s what hooked me. At that moment, my world was crazy: parenting four kids (three teenage boys and a 10-year-old girl—need I say more?), some heavy changes in my business ownership, the American political scene, and all of that in the middle of a pandemic. The idea of naming the crazy and then naming a way forward definitely caught my attention.

As I moved forward from the book, I found myself finding all sorts of areas in which to apply positive VUCA to our current crazy. One of those areas is families like yours and mine. 

VUCA Family Faith Formation

The pandemic and all sorts of other issues have thrust the church into a volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous future. We are in need of a vision for faith formation for our families based on understanding, clarity about what is essential, and agility to meet the needs of families as they take forming faith in their kids seriously. So what does that look like for the rural church in Smalltown, USA, AND the church in Urbanville, USA?

Vision: Both of these congregations need to take a step back and drill down to the essential reasons for each faith-forming program they put their time and effort into. What is its purpose? What kind of growth and knowledge are desired in children and in their families?

Understanding: Both congregations need to develop a real-time understanding of the hopes and realities of the families in their membership, as well as in their community. They also need to develop an understanding of how faith is formed in children and families, which then informs the programs and leaders involved with kids’ ministries.

Clarity: With this vision and understanding in place, steps needed to move toward these new places will become clear. This clarity of purpose and intent can be a guiding force as each church emerges from this pandemic into whatever the “new normal” might look like in that community.

Agility: Lastly, agility will be required on all levels to bring these newly formed or repurposed programs to life. From all ages of the church’s membership to all levels of the church’s leadership, everyone will need to be reminded of the importance of engaging with families and their desire to form faith in their kids to warrant the changes this new clarity might require.

Now, I know that this is not an easy process, and change never goes as smoothly or quickly as a 4-point explanation might suggest. But all of us at Faith Formation Ministries are here to help. In fact, this is what we love to do! 

If any of this VUCA talk has you wondering, please reach out to your Regional Catalyzer. We’re eager to consult with you on any faith formation challenge or opportunity. Our hope is that in the midst of our VUCA-crazy world, (which will always be crazy), we can find a VUCA-positive way to clear a path into our future.

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