What to Be Curious About, Part IV: Design Thinking & Startup Mindset

This is fourth in a series of posts about ministry planning in a COVID-19 world.

Part I: The Shape of the Plan

Part II: Adaptive Leadership

Part III: Family Centered Faith Formation

Part IV: Design Thinking and Startup Mindset

What to be curious about one page .pdf resource. (subscribers, please check your email)

Did you know curiosity is an emotion? This is something I learned recently while walking with Brene Brown. As in, I walk while listening to her lecture, “Rising Strong as a Spiritual Practice” Hopefully ministry leaders are taking the time to pause, rest, and make a list of what you are noticing about life, faith, and ministry  in COVID-19

Assuming you, like me, might have the luxury of the next two months to plan for fall ministry, I suggest taking out the list of what you have noticed and approaching it with curiosity. I place a high value on curiosity. In fact it is one of our areas of focus for Sunday school. Learn more about that in this article I wrote for Spiritual Parent.

I am creating a series of posts on topics I am very curious about as they relate to faith formation ministry in a COVID-19 world. Included in each post are resources for learning more.

Part IV: What tools can we use to make a plan?

Photo by Polina Zimmerman from Pexels

My colleague Katie Lancaster shared a webinar for faith leaders with me from Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management a few weeks ago. They offered several helpful tools for approaching ministry planning from a start up mentality. Fun fact: I worked at Kellogg’s executive training center as an undergrad, student setting up rooms, doing some graphic design, and shuttling the VIP’s around campus. If you like templates and graphic organizers, you will enjoy these tools:

Empathy Maps:

I was first introduced to this design tool that starts with the end user  at a workshop on Design Thinking with Kenda Creasy Dean. The idea is to imagine what your participant needs. What do they think, feel, say, and do? What do they stand to gain by participating in your ministry? What barriers get in the way? This is a great way to start thinking about the new reality our parents and children are facing.

Business Model Canvas:

Church people are understandably skeptical of business language, but stay with me! In this webinar from Kellogg the presenters translate the vocabulary into ministry application. A business model canvas builds from your empathy maps (participant needs), identifies your key stakeholders, and outlines the solution you are proposing. This tool is a great way to get started re-imagining online, gathered, and hybrid ministry. If your “product” is community, then also take a look at this Community Canvas I stumbled across in my internet search.

To summarize: empathy maps are a tool for paying attention to the needs of your congregation. Design thinking is a human centered and flexible approach to design. Business Model Canvases are one page tools that can organize your ministry plan so you have enough to share with church leaders, while still allowing for flexibility and change as the the plan evolves.


Kellogg School of Management Faith Leader Resources

IDEO – the place for tools and templates related to design thinking

Building a Culture of Experimentation

Community Canvas

Business Model Canvas

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