Story and Strategy

A Letter from the Executive Director

This letter has many words and concepts, but it is really just about two things: story and strategy. I hope those two ideas stir something in you and open you to an update from CVN about what has been stirring in us.

It is critical to understand why we do what we do. When we know why, questions of how can be more focused and make better use of our energies. Acting with a clear sense of why allows us to be confident and trust our work and our journey. Building that understanding – answering the question why – is at the core of CVN’s new three-year strategic plan, which was recently approved by our Board of Directors.

The plan strives to help CVN and member programs transition: from 55 years focused on service models born of specific contexts and times to honoring our strengths, desires, and needs in ways that embrace new challenges in society. Our three-year vision is grounded in articulating why faith-based service is compelling – and how to ensure continued growth and impact. We will discern new approaches with a commitment to helping us and you:

  1. be more visible and known
  2. ask questions about who we are and who we seek to become
  3. reduce barriers to service and ensure greater diversity
  4. secure resources and partnerships that sustain our missions for the next 55 years

I hope our commitment resonates with you, and can enhance your vision. We seek the right balance of challenging you to adapt to the changes we all see around us – and being challenged by you to ensure that we provide support in meaningful and practical ways. We seek to nurture that discernment with you and continue empowering your ministries. We want to learn more about why all of us are committed to making faith-based service stronger – and how we need to change to honor that.

You are a huge part of the answers to both. We humbly invite you to go deeper with us. Our strategic plan is a process of acting and discerning how to write the next chapters of our story. We want to do that with you, with an openness to becoming part of other stories and understanding how our stories intertwine.

Lent is about the power of story and strategy. God uses the journey to remind us why Jesus’ discernment and struggle are important. Why faith is important. Why a broader vision for life – and death – is necessary to understand God’s invitation to trust. Lent invites us to tell that story, and to reflect on strategies for making the story resonate more deeply with ourselves and others through our commitments and actions.

Just as God had a plan for the time we observe as Lent, CVN has a plan. Our focus is becoming clearer. Our sense of mission more refined. That we connect the power of faith with the challenges of the world is more critical than ever. But we are not CVN without you and your help in shaping the story and acting strategically.

I invite you to sit with this. Pray about it. See what it stirs in you. Look for an email in coming weeks with the strategic plan, information about how we will use it and how it will inform the National Conference, and ways to engage with us around all of that and more.

With you in this story,

Yonce Shelton
Executive Director

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