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 that this is the source of part of your problem.
Part of my tactic is to inform you that your favorite meal deal is a total of 1,020 calories. Sounds like a lot of calories, right? Yes, because it is, but probably not enough to cause you to think twice about ordering that meal again. It tastes too good not to. As a matter of fact, this one value meal constitutes a vast % of annual revenue for Chick-Fil-A. The numbers tell the story – people discard facts about their health for the sake of their own personal satisfaction.
The Art of Scaling
But what if I were to scale it down for you into different terms and tell you that 1,020 calories is equivalent to eating nearly FOUR Snickers candy bars for lunch? Would you eat FOUR candy bars for lunch? Probably not. Yet, on a calorie level, that's essentially what we do with the Chick-Fil-A meal. A large number, like 1,020 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. As well, 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 1,020 of them we discard the facts and choose taste over health. Four Snickers bars, however, is easy to see. It's more relatable to our human experience and much simpler to hold on to – literally. We can hold four Snickers bars. Touch them. Feel them. Understand them and therefore have a much more difficult time discarding the facts about them.
This is the art of "scaling" - contextualizing something of grand proportions into more tangible, relatable terms. It provides a smaller scale perspective by which someone is able to more readily see, understand and grasp the bigger picture. Scaling doesn't negate the reality or importance of the bigger picture, it simply provides a platform upon which to see, understand and engage with it more efficiently.
The Daunting Statistics
The foster care and global orphan 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. This is the reality of the world in which we live, but with numbers like that it's hard to wrap our minds around what to do, where to go and how to even begin to be a solution to the problem. If we’re honest, it’s so hard to grasp and therefore far too easy to dismiss. And most people do - they dismiss the facts for the sake of their own personal satisfaction, comfort and convenience.
This is why it is essential for your leadership team to scale the vision of your ministry in such a way that people in your church can see it, understand it, grasp on to it and engage with it - and not discard it so easily. The goal is not to minimize the magnitude of the crisis at hand - it's real and hard and all around us. Instead, the goal is 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 orphan crisis in our world” is not a vision. It sounds good and noble, but it doesn’t paint a clear picture for people. Its proportions are too large; its size is unrelatable and too easy to discard. The average person would buckle under the weight of a statement like that. It’s too big and heavy. It lacks direction so they don’t know where to begin, and if they don’t know where to begin they most likely never will. It needs scaling. Perhaps something like this: “There are 50 children in our county ready for adoption; we want families in our church to cut that number in half by next year.” Or, “Our county needs 60 more foster families; we want at least 30 new families in our church to open their homes.” Or, "We want to develop one new international strategic partnership with a child sponsorship organization this year."
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”.
Certainly it applies to how you message your ministry to your people. Yes, the needs of millions, thousands and hundreds is overwhelming, but it's far more realistic - and more personally challenging - 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. That's the message. A clear vision 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. :)
- Ten Simple Ways Your Church Can Serve Foster and Adoptive Families
- Ten Unique Ways Your Church Can Get Involved With Foster Care
- Wrapping Around Foster and Adoptive Families
- Foster Care: Why the Church Can Stop Outsourcing Child Welfare
- Developing a Holistic Orphan Care Ministry in Your Church
- Making Orphan Care "Normal" in Your Church