Missional Church, Discipleship & ‘Hassle Maps’

Let’s face it: All too often, our quest for discipleship and creating a missional church is a succession of hassles. There’s an endless stream of frustrations, inconveniences, complications, disappointments, and potential disasters lurking in most of our daily experiences in re-missioning and creating discipleship.

We all have our ‘preferred’ methodology for creating discipleship and a missional church. We subscribe to all the newsletters, buy the books, hire the consultants, and then we come to face the fact that all is not perfect or sometimes even close to what we were expecting. We blame ourselves, our efforts and our programs, at times we may also condemn those who are side by side with us in the endeavor.

The real question becomes, “Do we understand the hassles the people we are trying to reach are experiencing?” Their likes, dislikes, their preferences and who they are in life? Do we understand their hassles? No matter what ‘missional program’ you may be using you still need to identify, measure, and resolve pain points and difficulties that people experience before you can even think of implementing the program.  Do we first try to get our arms around the fact that people are trying to deal with life, its complications, struggles, and at the same time be attentive to what we are presenting to them?

Mapping peoples’ hassles should be a top priority before we engage with the ‘missional or discipleship’ program. Peoples’ hassle map should be on your agenda; create the maps to understand better the audience you will be rolling out your discipleship, re-mission program or re-planting a new church.  Hassle maps will better assist you in your design, approach, communications, third-party partners, you engage with and use to launch your program.

I’m a diehard advocate of hassle maps as a tool to help you walk in peoples’ shoes to understand better the steps they go through to do their job and live their lives in and out of the church. In my prior consulting experience as a consultant and executive, we would use hassle maps to gain those insights into our customers, fellow employees, competitors.

What are hassle maps? How do they differ from other maps or diagrams you may be using?  Ask yourself “Is your goal to improve upon the people’s experience of our missional efforts?”   Then you need hassle maps.

“Hassle map” is a term/concept coined by Adrian Slywotzky; a well-known consultant who has spent his career understanding why people do what they do and the decisions they make.  Adrian defined hassle maps as follows:

“Whether you’re talking about a consumer or a corporation, a hassle map identifies all of the actual steps that characterize the negative experiences of the customer. Think about these questions: Where are the emotional hot spots, the irritations, the frustrations, the time wasted, the delay? Where are the economic hot spots? And then think about this: What are the ways that businesses can radically improve the hassle map for both the customer and themselves?”

Now re-read that quote and substitute the word ‘business’ with the mission and ‘customer’ congregation. Think of this as a learning experience centered more around missional innovation and discipleship creation. In other words, hassle maps make an effort simpler through design and innovation.

I believe that after you read more about hassle maps, you will see there’s a broader application of “hassle map thinking,” in our missional, re-missional, and discipleship experience.  You can read more about hassle maps at https://www.oliverwyman.com/media-center/2011/hassle-maps.html

A hassle map can be something you create in your mind, or it can be a real laid out diagram; it can be a top-down or bottom-up exercise. There’s no one “right way,” but an excellent way to start the conversation is by asking, What do you hate? What makes you furious? What gets you irritated?  What fears are you harboring?   You get the picture.  And don’t always forget to ask:  “What is it about our outreach program that is undesirable for your relating to the experience we think you will have?”

In the art of creating discipleship or re-missioning our missional program each extra step, wasted moment, avoidable risk, needless complication, less-than-optimal solution, awkward compromise, and the disappointing outcome is a ‘friction point’ on the hassle map. And each represents an opportunity to create new demand by eliminating the friction or even reversing it, turning hassle into delight.  See why this is important to do before you even crack open the book or pamphlet on the program you will be implementing.

Hassle maps reveal the gap between what ministers want to experience and what future congregations want and need – based on what efforts they are trying to do or tasks they are trying to complete. The ‘gap’ is where the opportunity for discipleship creation lies. But I believe that gap is also where the opportunity for experience (re)design lies, and what the whole concept of re-mission is all about today.

Accepting that there is no ‘average’ congregation, you need to ‘de-average,’ looking at the congregational experience from multiple perspectives, for various segments of congregations and different people in the missional chain of knowledge. The goal of creating hassle maps is to look at each type of person, not the person by themselves. You may draw anywhere from half of the dozen to a dozen hassle maps for any discipleship or missional situation. You may uncover different hassle maps for urbanites, rural, suburban, college students, retired city dwellers –as well as for small businesses owners, prominent businesses executives, city commuters, and apartment complexes.

I believe the work of missional activities and discipleship always look at the persons’ problems, life experiences through a wide-angle lens. Overcome the hassles, fix the hassle experience, look outside their comfort zone to connect the dots from multiple experiences and values in their life to solve the people’s problem. In the business world solving customers hassles has become a standard operating procedure for Amazon, Apple, and Google. Hassle Maps will help re-mission and create discipleship at a faster rate.

Adrian points out that there are other types of hassle maps: (1) those that take you through the steps of the process a person goes through to do something; (2) those that also chart backstage and front-stage people, tools, and systems; and a third one (3) that graphs desirable yet mutually-exclusive peoples needs, experiences, desires, likes, dislike and goals, hassle maps are a slightly different flavor all the time and remember they do not replace your missional program or discipleship program you are subscribing too, this is a “pre-discipleship, pre-missional effort”.

To develop a hassle map, you start by thinking about needs, pain points, and desired outcomes. We want to think about these things as we design an excellent discipleship experience. But, as Adrian outlines in his description of Hassle Maps: “The Genesis of Demand, hassle maps can be mental constructs (journey maps are not) or real maps.”

Keep in mind; there’s no perfect way to create hassle maps, but the more you use them, the better you will get at ‘perfecting’ them, which is why you need to look at:

· Different personas, as different people types have various problems, pain points, and desired outcomes. Understand your people’s needs and what drives them crazy about your mission and effort.

· Start by asking what people dislike and what makes them furious about what you say and do? What pain points are they experiencing? What problems are they trying to solve in their own lives their families and at work?

· Identify what it’s like to experience for yourself what the people are suffering. Consider the strengths and weaknesses of your communications.

· Look to other discipleship and missional programs, the actual application may be spot on once the people are on board, but what about the pursuit of getting them on board? Look for inspiring solutions.

· Then quantify the effort for the person and you; what saves energy for both?

· And like journey maps, hassle maps are also not static. Update the maps as technologies, people, processes, programs, and needs evolve.

Hassle maps are all about talking to people, and listening to people, and observing them and characterizing and empathizing with people.

So ask yourself, “Is it time for you to walk in your peoples’ shoes as they experience your missional efforts, identify the pain points and the frustrations, and develop the next “come follow me” (figuratively speaking)?

I’ll borrow today’s closing quote from “The Art of Hassle Map Thinking“…and put a slight spin to it:

“When you discover a problem, you discover a mission.”

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