On what assumptions are you basing your most important decisions? You’re not basing these critical decisions on assumptions? Riiiight. You’re basing your decisions on facts. Riiiight. When we’re really honest, our decisions are based on a combination of "facts" and assumptions. For example, we can survey potential customers and determine that Sunday morning is when they think church happens. And that’s repeated over and over. To a degree it’s based on the fact set of the survey. But what if you begin to run out of seats? Is it true that you can only fill 80% of your seats? The 80% idea is another commonly accepted fact, based on the experience of a very large undocumented sample. And on the basis of that fact we begin to argue about what to do when we get to 80%: start another service, develop another venue, expand the building, do an Andy Stanley and tell people not to come unless they bring an unchurched person with them, or as one of my friends told me yesterday…start a capital campaign (and you won’t be running out of seats anymore!)
What if the foundation for our decision is only an assumption…and not fact, not really true? Talking with another friend yesterday about how many more people we could fit in by pouring our sloped, theater style auditorium floor flat and converting to individual seats (and taking out the remaining pews) his response was different enough to create a pause. He said, why not give your student ministry enough additional budget to make Saturday night really cool, move student ministry to Saturday only, and allow those families that have jr. and sr. high students to move to Saturday. I said, "but I’ve never found a student ministry that really worked on Saturday night." He said, "that’s why we gave them more money to make it really cool, bring in bands, pizza, etc. Six months later we began offering student ministry on Sunday again and Saturday remained larger even after we began doing exactly the same program at both times."
Over at 800-CEO-READ today, Todd commented on Peter Drucker’s well known statement that "the future has already happened" (meaning that the new ideas that will lead to tomorrow’s common practice are already being implemented). His take is that practice comes first almost all the time…not theory. In other words, we can theorize that student ministry wouldn’t work on Saturday night and make another decision re the number of seats we need, based on an outdated or inaccurate assumption, or we can look for the new handwriting on the wall. I love Todd’s action point: "Are the premises that you base your decisions on obsolete? DO you need a new intellectual framework to win in the market, as it exists today?"