By: Ken McFayden

Several weeks ago, I began a conversation on Why APCE? I hope my thoughts stimulated your thoughts as you reflect upon why APCE matters to you, to the church, and to people on a life-long journey of growth in faith.

Today, I offer a glimpse into the conversations of the APCE Coordinating Council at its Fall 2017 meeting, as it aspired to identify why APCE does what it does. My purpose here is two-fold:  first, to identify APCE’s working why; second, to share a model, with a few linked resources, that you may adapt for use in your ministry setting.

A number of years ago, I was introduced to a powerful TED talk by Simon Sinek that I since have used in a number of strategic planning retreats:  Simon Sinek’s TED Talk. In this TED Talk, Sinek challenges us to think of why we do what we do and to lead from that vantage point rather than focusing on what we do to the neglect of the passion, purpose, and mission (the why) of what we do. In framing the Coordinating Council meeting last fall, several of us crafted a design that would invite an exploration and identification of why APCE does what it does. I consider this a working why.

At our fall meeting, the Coordinating Council began with an exercise that explored The State of APCE. Individually and then in small groups, members used the following template to identify the assets, sources of energy and hope, existing and emerging needs, and concerns and anxieties of APCE.










Naturally, this template was set up on one page (landscape format) that created space for reflective thinking. After small groups shared their perspectives in the larger group, the group identified common patterns and themes as a basis for visioning work to follow.

In our effort to discern an emerging vision for APCE, we viewed Simon Sinek’s TED Talk. In the discussion that followed, I highlighted a few perspectives from his book, Start with Why, that underscore the importance of the clarity of why, the discipline of how, and the consistency of what. Additionally, I noted that for several years I have thought there was a missing ring—an outer ring that would point to the so that of moving from why to how to what. To me, the why reflects mission; the so that helps to discern vision.

Working with our gathered thoughts from The State of APCE, and our group’s discussion of Sinek’s TED Talk, the Coordinating Council moved back into small groups for two sequential conversations:  first, to explore and identify why APCE does what it does; and second, to identify three strategic priorities that would express the why and point toward a vision for the future. With a rich mix of seasoned APCE members and relative newcomers, the conversations were rich as members spoke and listened carefully. Educators at their best, engaging in generative discussions in peering into the future.

Out of these discussions, as we looked closely at why we do what we do—and the impact we aspire to have in the lives of others and in the world—we developed a working why:  We do what we do because Growing in Faith Matters.

From that point, we crafted three strategic priorities for the coming years:

  • To increase the accessibility and availability of APCE generated or curated resources to people serving in the Christian educational ministries of the church
  • To increase opportunities at the local and regional levels
  • To develop facilitated colleague groups—with mentors, coaches, or guides—around topics of interest.

This working why—and these strategic priorities—seek to craft a vision that builds upon the best of the past as we follow God’s calling and leading into the future. This vision seeks to open doors. Because Growing in Faith Matters.

This vision aspires to invite people to join this constellation of people with diverse gifts and a common calling. Because Growing in Faith Matters.

This vision seeks to welcome newcomers to this life-giving and life-changing work. Because Growing in Faith Matters.

Since that meeting, APCE’s ministry teams have been working on strategic priorities for their own work that support the strategic priorities of APCE, our working why, and our emerging vision. This process, it seems to me, has generated new energies and new ideas as we think of how we invest our time, our energy, and our focus in APCE.

It’s why we do what we do. For people who engage APCE as a constellation of people with a wealth of gifts, passions, callings, and experiences who come together for important work.


Ken McFayden is the 2018 President of APCE.  He is author of Strategic Leadership for a Change: Facing Our Losses, Finding Our Future (2009), and a contributor to the Being Reformed curriculum on Transformational Leaders. You can contact him at For those interested in working with Sinek’s approach, will be a helpful resource.