Keith Suter’s four archetypes

Scenario planning is management tool designed to help managers identify the risks and
opportunities of multiple futures for business.   Keith Suter (Global Directions) has done just that.  He has offered Four Church Futures to the Uniting Church for discussion and we took up the opportunity at Faith in Action this week.
It was one of the most lively and interesting discussions I’ve had about church for many years.  We ranged across theology, ecclesiology, polity, power and control, agencies and congregations, synods and committees.  I’ve been to many meetings which have been dealing with the same issues, Keith made it creative and interesting.  Keith offers four archetypes.IMG_0125

  • word and deed
  • early church
  • secular welfare
  • recessional

I’m happy to offer a few notes around where we landed but you have to keep in mind that scenario planning generates ideas and doesn’t priorities options or makes decisions.

  • There are  at least two other major scenarios that have been missed.  One in the area of the impact of technology and whether we physically (corporally) meet.  (Yes we do mean corporally its not an error).  The other is in the area of congregations who are well connected to their local community esp non anglo community and how they see themselves as Christian and connected to the UCA.
  • Some of us thought it was way too anglo.  That the assumptions were white middle class and male.  This also seems to account for why the white middle class males really enjoyed the discussion!
  • Some of us thought the paper created three straw men to knock down so only one can stand.  And that the favoured future wass harking back to golden age that never actually existed.
  • Others disagreed!
  • Some of us thought that all six futures were actually going to happen at the same time (for very little fits neatly into one box).

We did agree that we would like to see the scenarios taken up much more widely.  We look forward to further conversations based on this paper.  We commend all to have a read, and more importantly create a group to discuss each scenario.


Friday afternoon the Faith in Action reading group settled in to its first session at Spire (Clayton Wesley).