Future Search The Method

Applications in Congregations

Overview Cases FAQ's Sponsors

Congregations FAQ's

How do we get everyone in the congregation involved? 

Future search can accommodate as many members of your congregation as you discover is necessary because you can run parallel or sequential conferences. Congregations have designed activities following future searches where the event is shared with the community in various ways. Members of the congregation can be invited to sign up for action teams.

How will we get the people to come for the whole time? 

The pastor, priest, rabbi or imam plays a key role is lifting up the importance of this process. Personal invitations are crucial. One religious leader invited persons by stating with some humor "I'll give you a waiver from attending other functions for five years if you attend this event. Your voice and the process of developing OUR vision together are that important."

How long does a future search take? 

A future search can be scheduled in several different ways to meet congregational needs. A most common format utilized by Christian congregations has been a weekend conference with a Friday evening session, a daylong Saturday session and a closing on Sunday morning or afternoon. Jewish congregations might start on a Saturday night, after the sunset, or a Sunday morning (depending on the time of the year and the particular commitments), and continue through Tuesday at noon. Other denominations may choose another schedule.

Will a future search get us out of planning and into action? 

Most definitely. One of the keys to future search is that it does not stop with planning; it goes the next step to action. Supports are built in for action coming out of the process. Follow up meetings are often held to revisit action outcomes 3 months or 6 months after the conference. Several congregations have formed action task forces to shepherd the action outcomes.

Who is included in a future search? 

The recruiting phase is crucial as the planning team identifies stakeholders from the "whole system". Stakeholders are chosen in order to create a microcosm of the entire organization or community. This might include long time members, youth, faith educators, facilities, finance, missions, community members, ministers, staff, and others. This process builds deep buy-in and ownership; volunteers and leaders emerge, and long time leaders are re-energized.

How does future search deal with disagreements and diverse ways of looking at life? 

Future search is designed to bring people together to discover what they agree upon. Differences are noted but not worked. People speak fully about what they believe rather than putting others down. Participants find it a wonderful experience to be able to speak and listen in an environment that values each idea. We find that many organizations spend 80% of their time talking about the 20% of things they disagree about. Future search brings this ratio more into alignment.

How can someone run this if they are not a member of the congregation? 

Future search is not an "expert" model where someone comes in and tells the congregation what they need. Rather, it assumes that the participants already hold the knowledge and skills they need.

If a facilitator doesnt profess our faith how can they lead a future search for our congregation? 

Many have stated that the future search is inherently spiritual. It seeks to honor and respect the individual and community by exploring commonly held values and vision. Planning teams from your congregation may design worship elements, interweave symbols or utilize music, to customize the process to your needs. There have been wonderful services and prayers created and woven into the process. A number of congregations have ended the future search with a worship service that celebrated the vision and time spent in what became a "sacred" process.

How do we reconcile this process with the way we normally make decisions? 

Future search does not set aside existing process or leadership roles but invites others into the process of building a common vision and committing to making it happen. A congregation is free to adopt or reject the vision forged in a future search according to its traditional procedures. Broad participation and buy-in results in outcomes that are generally easy to integrate into traditional systems of leadership or governance.

How long will it take to plan a future search? 

Several months of planning and preparation are needed. A team from your congregation will, with the support of a facilitator, decide the dates and deal with the details to hold an event. The most important task of this team is to clarify the focus of the future search and invite the needed members and friends of your congregation. People from all aspects of your community of faith should be invited. A key to this model is forming a microcosm of your congregation and community so that all constituents of the congregation or the community are represented. This insures people have a voice as well as an opportunity to listen to other perspectives. Learn more about planning a future search.

Do we have to go to a retreat setting? 

No. While it may be a desirable setting, the cost and exclusion of those not willing or able to travel may make a setting closer to your worship center more practical. Any room that meets the basic criteria for the future search can be used.







home | introducing the method | what is future search? | conditions for success | methodology
applications | public workshops