Suppose you asked me to help you lose 15 pounds. The problem is, you have a disease - a disease called “Chick-fil-A"! You're addicted to the #1 value meal which includes a sandwich, fries and a drink. You're eating it almost daily for lunch. We quickly identify this to be part of your problem.
What if I inform you that your favorite meal deal is a total of nearly 1,100 calories? Sounds like a lot of calories, right? Yes, it is! But probably not enough to cause you to think twice about ordering that meal again. It tastes too good not to. I recently learned that the number one selling product at Chick-fil-A is the #1 value meal (makes sense, huh?). They make most of their money off of one of the most unhealthy items. What does this tell us? That people discard facts about their health for the sake of their own personal satisfaction. It’s just what we do.
The Art of Scaling
But what if I were to scale it down for you into different terms and tell you that 1,100 calories is equivalent to eating nearly FOUR candy bars for lunch? Would you eat FOUR candy bars for lunch? Probably not. Yet, on a calorie level, that's essentially what you’re doing with the fast food meal. A large number, like 1,100 calories, is intangible. We have no human experience tied to it, no frame of reference to measure its proportions by and nothing to compare it to. Also, has anyone ever really seen a calorie? Held one? Touched one? Not that I know of. They’re these little, evil invisible things we know are out there but have no personal, tangible, relatable experience with.
Since we can't see them or feel them or comprehend the enormity of 1,100 calories, we discard the facts and choose taste over health. Four candy bars, however, is easy to see. It's more relatable to our human experience and much simpler to hold on to – literally. You can hold them, touch them, feel them and understand them, and therefore have a much more difficult time discarding the facts about them.
This is "scaling" - contextualizing something of grand proportions into more tangible, relatable terms. In this case, from 1,100 to four. Scaling provides a smaller perspective through which we’re able to better see, understand and grasp the bigger picture. It doesn't negate the reality or significance of the problem, it simply provides a platform upon which to engage with it more efficiently.
The Daunting Statistics
The statistics are daunting: millions of children around the world, hundreds of thousands within the United States, dozens of thousands within your state and city, hundreds and thousands within your community alone - all needing safe, loving permanent families. The problem is big, but with numbers like that it's hard for people to wrap their minds around what to do, where to go and how to even begin to be a solution to the problem. It's too hard to grasp and therefore too easy to dismiss.
And most people do - they dismiss the facts for the sake of their own personal satisfaction, comfort and convenience.
Part of engaging the whole of your church includes scaling the crisis for them - in such a way that they can see it, understand it, grasp on to it and engage it more effectively. The goal is not to minimize the magnitude of the problem, but to provide a platform upon which your people can more easily see the problem and more readily identify their role in helping to solve it.
Scaling Your Vision
For example: “We want to eradicate the foster crisis in our city” is not a vision. It sounds good and noble, but doesn’t paint a clear picture for people. It’s too big and heavy and lacks direction. The average person buckles under the weight of a statement like that. It needs scaling. Perhaps something like this: “Our county needs 60 more foster families; we want 30 of them to come from our church in the next year.” Or, “There are 14 children in our county waiting to be adopted; we want our church to bring this number to zero this year.” These are clear and bold, but more manageable, actionable and achievable. People can wrap their minds around them.
Perhaps it also includes casting vision for the different ministry activities you hope to accomplish over the next year, like “We want to open a foster family supply pantry, host an informational luncheon for people interested in getting involved, recognize Orphan Sunday and conduct dedication ceremonies two Sundays this year during service for foster and adoptive families in our church”.
It also applies to how you challenge your people personally. Raising awareness about the 143 million orphans in the world with no real personal application might not be the most effective approach. Perhaps it is far more realistic - and more personally challenging - not to focus on changing the world for every orphan, but to focus on how each individual can change the world of at least one. Everyone can do something to change the world of at least one. A clear vision is much more difficult to discard.
If vision is painting a picture of the future then in these scaled statements, the future is clear. Direction is set and objectives are identified. The cleaner and more well-defined your vision is, the more likely it will be for people to see the bigger picture. It's something they can wrap their minds and their hands around. They’ll be able to see where you’re going and are more equipped to identify the next steps they need to take in order to get there.
By the way, I eat Chick-fil-A weekly. So, so good. :)