Use This 1 Tool to Visualize Your Ministry Plans

Use This 1 Tool To Visualize Your Ministry Plans

In a time when apps and technical tools are the go-to for most things, including ministry, this simple tool will yield tremendous insight with paper and pencil.

When you are planning a ministry endeavor, whether it is a worship service, a community block party, or a children’s event, it can be hard to envision every aspect of what will happen.

Is there a way to see the event before the event? How do you know what you missed in your planning? Will the experience of people who attend your church match your prayerfully considered outcomes?

Well, there is a way to see things from a fresh perspective. Movie studios and App development companies use it all the time. It’s called a storyboard, and you can use one for just about any ministry experience you envision.

Walt Disney first used storyboards to communicate plot and flow, first in his smaller animated features and then when he moved into feature films. Today, storyboards help feature film directors communicate the shots they are trying to get, and UX designers use them to think through a user’s experience with their digital products.

Storyboards help you visualize your efforts, observe any place where more thought or planning might be needed, and create steps to cover any potential miscommunications.

Here’s how you and your creative volunteers can create and critique your endeavors using storyboards:

  • First, gather your creative team together in a room with tables, drawing materials and some tape.
  • Present your team with the challenge you want to address. Frame it in the form of a question like, “How might someone who attends our weekly luncheon feel welcome in our group?”
  • Each member of the team will draw out an ideal story that solves the challenge you are facing. Then, each person will present their idea to the group. The group will ask questions about the story for clarification of the concept.
  • These storyboards are less about being works of art and more about communicating your idea. Do not let one’s felt artistic ability hinder their participation. You will be surprised at how much clarity comes from basic drawings with stick figures and basic shapes.
  • After going over the challenge you are tackling, hand out the drawing materials. Give your team a set amount of time for the following:
  • Imagine an ideal solution.
  • Break that ideal solution down in steps.
  • Draw the steps out individually. (Example: If you are using index cards, one card per step. If you are using paper, have the team members draw six to nine boxes per piece of paper, then draw one step per box.)
  • Tape the steps to a wall or arrange them on a table for the group to see.
  • Consider giving no more than 20–30 minutes for this portion of the exercise. This limit will give your team enough time to think through the problem and draw out their solution, but not enough time to get bogged down with how their drawings look.
  • Once the group has completed their storyboards, give each member two to five minutes to walk the group through the steps to their ideal solution.
  • Follow each presentation with another two to five minutes of questions and clarifications.
  • At the end of the exercise have team members vote on which storyboard or parts of a storyboard they like. Use these choices to piece together a viable solution.

Some Additional Things to Consider

When drawing your storyboard, try to draw it from the perspective of the person who benefits. For instance, if your storyboard describes a new first-time visitor experience, then draw the storyboard from the perspective of the visitor. If you are thinking through how your nursery runs during a worship service, consider drawing the storyboard from the perspective of an infant.

Often, storyboards tell you more about what is not clear in your mind than what is. You may look at your story and see missing steps. Insights like this are what make storyboards so valuable as a ministry design tool.

This article originally appeared here.

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Jason TIlley
Jason Tilley founded Ministry Accelerator to equip church and non-profit leaders to navigate cultural complexity and experience fruitful ministry. Over the last 20 years, Jason served in multiple creative ministry roles from drama and video production, to children’s ministry and curricula, to innovation and digital design.