FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
If it's really a game, how serious can it be?
The gaming format proved to be the most effective way to facilitate real interaction and engagement from all participants. Plus, it introduces a fun element into what can be a challenging and difficult process! Your current values and methodologies will be stretched as you wrestle with what really needs attention, so having an “outside” process with timed exercises is critical. We spent a year developing and beta-testing FOCUS with churches of every stripe—and consistently get rave reviews now.
Why does it take 6 hours to play?
True, focused strategic planning requires a lot of thought and discussion…and creating a plan via a team process definitely means it’s going to take a little longer. But the flipside is “buy in.” When leadership team members genuinely take part in creating a plan and have real input, ownership exponentially increases. That means the probability of successfully completing and fulfilling your strategic plan will definitely go up!
Who should play it at our church?
Whoever your primary decision-makers are. For larger church staffs, it’s typically their “executive leadership team” or ministry directors. For small churches, it may be their volunteer elders or board…or a combination of key volunteer leaders and paid staff. Remember: “Without counsel plans fail, but with many advisers they succeed.” (Proverbs 15:22)
Where should we play it?
We suggest a retreat day away from the office. But it’s up to you, as long as it’s an undisturbed room with space to break up into smaller groups. We think a change from your usual workspace creates a healthy new dynamic.
What else do we need to bring?
All you need is a large table that your participants can be around (the game board is 3’x3’) and have room to take notes and move about a bit. The game has a built-in break a little past the halfway point for lunch or dinner, so you’ll want to have food brought in or take a quick trip to a nearby restaurant. And, of course, snacks are always good! Otherwise, everything—and we mean everything—is included in the box: pens, markers, timers, cards, worksheets…you name it.
Can I split the time up into 2 or 3 sessions?
Yes, but we don’t think it’s ideal. There’s a certain momentum, energy, and focused attention that makes strategic planning effective and efficient…and breaking the time up can diffuse that. But if it’s absolutely necessary for smaller chunks, by all means go for it; any strategic planning is better than none!
How many people should play?
FOCUS is ideally designed for 8 to 12 players. You’ll split up into smaller groups for some of the exercises. It can certainly work with only 4 or 5 people, but will take a good bit longer. While we don’t recommend more than 12 (it’s hard to facilitate discussions with that many!), it can be done. But remember, there are only enough items in the box for a maximum of 12 participants, so you’ll have to get creative with sharing!
Why do you limit it to only 4 goals?
Our experience is that most leadership teams and organizations get bogged down past 4 big over-arching goals or initiatives. Remember, you’re going to end up with 16 strategies and tactics to manage, so there’s a reason we call it FOCUS—too many objectives can make handling your “game plan” unwieldy…plus, we’ve limited game time to 6 hours. Much beyond that and people get woozy!
Can I use it again at another time…like next year?
Absolutely! Many churches do an annual strategic plan to keep each new ministry year in focus and everyone on the same page. We offer inexpensive “refill” kits for the items that are disposable after using.
After we play, is there any follow-up?
FOCUS was carefully designed and beta-tested to be self-facilitating and formatted to drive organizational “self-awareness”. If churches desire more consultative help after playing FOCUS, Elemental Churches certainly offers an outside perspective and analysis of your finished Game Plan or processing your experience. But that’s totally up to you; typically, most churches use it without further coaching.
What other tools do you have?
Okay, that sounds like a ringer! Dang, you got us: this is a shameless plug. We actually have a variety of tools to help pastors and church leaders become more effective and organizationally “self-aware”. Make sure to visit www.elementalchurches.com/toolbox to see everything we offer—all aimed at leadership development and built to be team-based, interactive, and cost-effective.