More about Vision Pathway

  • Welcome to the Vision Room

    Welcome to the Vision Room! I am glad you are here, because we built this online “room” just for you. Over the past nine years the Auxano team has focused entirely on our onsite consulting process called the Vision Pathway, helping church leaders experience the freedom and confidence that God-given clarity and well-defined vision provides.

  • What Does “One Church, Multiple Locations” Really Mean? Multisite Church: How Shared DNA is Part of the Identity

    One Church, Multiple Locations… what does that really mean? The practice of MultiSite within today’s church culture is growing and many churches are quickly realizing that actually being a MultiSite church goes beyond just launching another campus.  MultiSite campuses are a combination of a shared Church DNA and localized Contextual Personality.

  • What’s More Important: A Culture of Mission, A Culture of Discipleship, or a Culture of Leadership?

    It’s amazing how “a culture of” lingo has been trending over the last couple of years. And for good reasons.

  • Is Your Church Concerned About and Measuring the Right Things?

    Last year, Caroline Inglis was on the verge of an historic feat. No high school golfer, male or female, had ever captured the Oregon state title four consecutive years.

  • Inspecting What You Expect for Greater Church Health

    It's common knowledge that men are far less likely to go to the doctor than women. While that may not be very shocking, one of the justifications for their reluctance to schedule a check-up is intriguing.

  • What Happens When Your Elegant Strategy Meets the Minefield of Execution

    Setting strategy is elegant. It’s a clean and sophisticated process of collecting and analyzing data, generating insights, and identifying smart paths forward.

  • Fleshing Out the Journey from Stranger to Missionary, Part 3

    Christianity Today calls it “the craziest statistic you’ll read about North America missions. ” What is it? One in five (20%) non-Christians say they do not know a single Christian.

  • Is Your Church Strategy Really Yours or Just an Illusion?

    The illusion of a strategy is worse than not having a strategy. For the person who wants to lose weight, the illusion of a diet/exercise plan is worse than not having one.

  • The Journey from Being a Stranger to a Missionary in Your Neighborhood

    The day before I left for Haiti, I hastily posted my “from strangers to missionaries” article. Had I known it would be read so much, I would have taken longer than 30 minutes to write it! Oh well.

  • Developing an Assessment Culture that Provides Truth Today and Direction Tomorrow

    I hate bad stats. They undermine the credibility of Christians and can confuse the issues.

  • 5 Ways to Measure Missional Advance and Impact in Your Neighborhood

    Over the past month, many people have heard about my “Jericho Road Moment. ” That story is part of a bigger story this year where I’m praying and pursuing God’s kingdom work in my neighborhood and city with renewed initiative and intentionality.

  • 3 Church Trends That Aren’t New But are Changing Rapidly

    I am a trend watcher, particularly among churches in America. I am not particularly insightful or smart; I simply listen and speak to many churches.

  • 5 Ministry Trends to Watch in 2014

    Sometimes you can dismiss a trend as a fad. Like Crocs, the Harlem Shake, or flash mobs.

  • Official 2014 Church Vision Statement Generator

    Note from the Vision Room Curator: This post originally ran on New Years's Eve, but it was so well-received our team decided to roll it out again today. We hope you will take a little time to enjoy this tongue-in-cheek look at church vision statements.

  • Why You Should Listen to Your Congregation When They Vote with Their Feet

    It’s an old phrase, but one that I find extremely helpful as a leader. It’s “voting with their feet.

  • 5 Words Toward a Stronger Esprit de Corps

    The hallways often reveal more than the boardroom. What you hear in the hallways is often a better indicator of the spirit of your team than what is said in the boardroom.

  • How Strategy Will Drive Pivotal Decisions for Your Church

    There is nothing more critical to leadership than strategic decision-making.  And nothing is more strategic in decision-making than, well, strategy.

  • A Strategy that Directly Fuels Your Mission and Vision Produces Passionate People

    One of the dreams of almost every leader is to see every person within an organization motivated by the same mission and vision. The reality is very few organizations—and very few churches—function that way.

  • 6 Keys to Understanding and Reaching the Post-Everything Generation

    How do we do renewal and outreach in the emerging “post-everything” United States culture?  Post-everything people are those who are now in their teens and twenties, and they are our future. These persons are increasingly post-secular.

  • 6 Gut-Check Questions to Ask When Your Ministry Seems Stuck

    We’ve all had ministries or programs in our church that aren’t going well. They lack critical mass to make the sort of impact we are looking for.

  • Quotes and Questions from Leadership Network’s “Succession” Online Conference

    In a very real sense, all pastors are INTERIM pastors. At some point you will not hold the current position you find yourself in at your church.

  • 6 Essentials of Vision Casting as Modeled by Martin Luther King

    His Dream Became a Reality Over 50 years ago, Martin Luther King delivered his electrifying “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, which became a flash point for a movement. The legend endures beyond memory from a dwindling number of witnesses, but no one alive that day anticipated its sweetly patriotic glow.

  • In the Face of Uncertainty, Pursue Clarity

    One force that’s ever-present in any form of creative work - like ministry - is uncertainty. The reality is that you will never know – really know – what’s right.

  • 2 Simple Questions that Will Align Your Teams for Missional Ministry

    A helpful way to shepherd your people with relationship to the mission of Jesus is to ask two simple questions: 1) Is the person clear about the vision of your church? 2) Is the person wanting to make a contribution?  Imagine that you could answer these questions with a yes or no. If so, you can locate everyone on the “key” below.

  • Clarity of Vision: The Difference Between Status Quo and Achieving Your Vision

    Successful leaders have one trait in common: clarity about what they want out of their organization, what kind of team they want to work with and what they want to accomplish. It’s that laser focus that helps them determine what actions to take and where to spend their energy on a daily basis.

  • 7 Ways to Help Others Understand the Vision

    A lot of people have great vision. But you’ll never see your vision become a reality unless you communicate it well to others.

  • 5 Elements of an Essential Vision Cast

    Getting an opportunity to cast a God-given vision is a weighty privilege. Having spent time with God, you’ve heard the heart of God and are called to lead toward a preferred future for your church, organization or community.

  • Uncertainty is No Excuse for Lack of Strategy in Your Church

    When Roger Martin, of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto,  asks business executives about their company's strategy — or about an apparent lack thereof — they often respond that they can't or won't do strategy because their operating environment is changing so much. There isn't enough certainty, they argue, to be able to do strategy effectively.

  • The Power of Your One Thing

    Over forty-five years ago, László Polgár was a published author and believer in the theory that genius is made, not born. He was convinced that early and intense specialization in a particular subject produces incredible results.

  • The Art of Vision Casting: 7 Critical Keys

    A lot of people have great vision. But you’ll never see your vision become a reality unless you communicate it well to others.

  • Start with 3 Prerequisites to Make Change in Your Church Not Just Possible, but Transformational

    One of the most common questions I hear from church leaders is “How long will it take my church to change?” It’s such a great question because change sometimes feels, well, impossible. You hear a constant stream of complaints You’ve run into too many people who like things the way they are now (or the way they were a long time ago) You’ve got too many friends who got hurt badly trying to lead change The committees keep meeting and they keep stalling You’re starting to feel like Moses in the desert with no Promised Land in sight I get that, I’ve been there.

  • Understanding the Text and the Times Helps Your Church Develop an Assessment Culture

    This is part four in a series on the importance and process of creating an assessment culture in your church. Reading parts one, two, and three of this series may help provide some context for this post.

  • How to Eliminate Busyness? Go on a Church Diet

    Most churches—more than eight out of ten—are busy. Too busy.

  • Five Steps to Get Beyond the Sacred Cows in Your Church

    Many years ago I was serving as pastor of a church where I was an avid supporter of door-to-door outreach. But I struggled with leading people to be involved in the ministry.

  • Making Sense of the Census: Do You Really Know Your Neighbor?

    And he made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Acts 17:26-27 Last week, I talked to you my efforts this year to build a neighborhood in my city through Next Door.

  • Missing the Mission: Looking for the Right Results While Loving the Wrong Things

    All churches love certain things. Some love fellowship, some worship, some prayer.

  • 4 Steps in the Hard Work of Creating Strategy

    98 percent of churches in North America are not functioning with strategic clarity on how they get things done. Every week Auxano Navigators work with leadership teams from churches across the country to help correct this glaring deficiency.

  • Church Renaming: A New Coat of Paint or a Re-Envisioning?

    What’s in a name? It’s an old adage. It flows from Shakespeare’s famed play, “Romeo and Juliet.

  • Is the Church Dying in the U.S.? Redefining Christians as Cultural, Congregational, & Convictional

    The church is not dying. Yes, the church in the West—the United States included—is in transition right now.

  • How to Avoid The Conference Craze

    Catalyst East 2013 is over - long live Catalyst! Over 13,000 leaders have returned to their churches, organizations, and homes filled to the brim with pages of notes, hours of conversations, and ideas aplenty. Now What? Having participated in several live Catalyst events over the years, and listened to several more of them via CDs, downloads, and DVDs, I always come away inspired… …and a little spiritually shell-shocked.

  • 9 Numbers That Indicate Healthy Church Growth

    You are a lead pastor. You primarily occupy your time with casting vision, teaching Scripture, and leading your staff.

  • Why Didn’t Jesus Do More?

    I am amazed at all Jesus didn’t do while he was on earth. His public ministry only lasted three years, and in those years his scope of ministry was incredibly narrow.

  • 8 Ways to Give Definition to Your Ministry

    Ministry is too important to be done haphazardly. How we’re leading in the core of our churches has to do with life-changing, eternity-consequential decisions.

  • Tim Keller Answers the Question “Why Plant Churches”?

    The vigorous, continual planting of new congregations is the single most crucial strategy for (1) the numerical growth of the body of Christ in a city and (2) the continual corporate renewal and revival of the existing churches in a city. Nothing else—not crusades, outreach programs, parachurch ministries, growing mega- churches, congregational consulting, nor church renewal processes—will have the consistent impact of dynamic, extensive church planting.

  • How Words Can Help Change Your Church Culture

    Words create worlds.   Language shapes us and forms us.

  • 4 Steps to Community Engagement

    I've said many times before that if the 1950s were to make a comeback, there would be all too many churches who could go on without missing a beat. The good news is that they found a ministry strategy that works.

  • The Value of Vision, Part 3: The Importance of a Compelling Vision

    Ken Blanchard thinks there is a major missing ingredient in Washington that is present in great organizations: a compelling vision. Few people have impacted the day-to-day management of people and companies more than Ken Blanchard.

  • The Missional Church

    The rapid decline of Christendom since the end of WWII has instituted an even greater need for “missional” churches to engage the surrounding community and retell the culture’s stories through the context of the gospel. Most traditional evangelical churches can win to Christ only people who are temperamentally traditional and conservative.

  • The Value of Vision, Part 2: Focusing on the Future Sets Leaders Apart

    The capacity to imagine and articulate exciting future possibilities is the defining competence of leaders.   For over thirty years authors Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner (The Leadership Challenge) been asking people what they most look for and admire in a leader, someone they would willingly follow.

  • The Value of Vision, Part 1: Is Vision Relevant Today?

    Mike Myatt, widely regarded as America's Top CEO coach thinks so - with an empathic YES! Leadership without vision is like trying to drive blind – it won’t end well. Here are some excerpts from an article on vision he recently wrote: The best evidence of the importance of vision is what occurs in its absence– mediocrity, irrelevance, and ultimately, obsolescence.

  • Larry Osborne’s 3 Mission Essentials

    My friend, Larry Osborne, leads North Coast Community Church with a group of gifted leaders. I enjoy his writing as much as any pastor who writes on leadership.

  • Think Inside the Box

    When it comes to our limitations, most people operate out of an if, then mindset. If I had __________, then I would ___________.

  • A Vision for Our Cities

    As the main purveyor of influence to surrounding communities, the city is where culture is formed. The Christian desire to shape culture with the gospel therefore requires Christians to live and be active in the city.

  • The Lab or the Factory

    Seth Godin uses a business example to point out that some organizations are content with doing what they've always done while others are always in search of the next great idea. This has HUGE implications for ministry work, but first, listen to what Godin says: At the lab, the pressure is to keep searching for a breakthrough, a new way to do things.

  • Church Unique’s Vision Pathway and Tom Paterson’s StratOps

    Over the last few years, I have enjoyed learning more and more from the contribution of Tom Paterson. Tom is a brilliant consultant and friend of Peter Drucker who innovated a very specific, high-impact model of strategic planning in the business space.

  • 5 Ways That Plug-n-Playing Another Church’s Ministry Model Will Cost You Ministry Progress

    At Auxano, we believe that local churches are unmistakably unique and incomparably different. God doesn't mass-produce His church.

  • How Does Church Planting Relate to God’s Mission?

    Every church involved in a new church, and every church planter starting one, needs to answer the question: what is church planting? For some, the word planting comes across as insider language. In the sub-culture of the church planting world there is an entire language mostly unknown to the outside.

  • Church Unique Snapshot: The Inside Reveal on Willow Creek Community Church’s Return to the 5 G’s

    During the booming days of Willow Creek’s influence, the church hosted conferences for thousands of church leaders across the country, teaching and spreading their model of ministry. The hallmark of these events was an inspiring and contagious use of crystal clear language and rich imagery that planted the Willow’s Vision Frame in the hearts and minds of church leaders.

  • The Clarity of Our Founding Fathers

    How was it that within a short span of time on the east coast of the North American continent there should have sprung up such a rare array of genius – men who seemed in virtual command of historical experience and who combined moral imagination with a flair for leadership? We know those men as the Founding Fathers. Part of the answer is that these men knew how to invest their combined strength in a great idea: A young man like James Madison had urgent thoughts about what people had to do to become free and remain free.

  • The Starting Point for Discovering Vision and Values

    Personal convictions are the seedbed for forging a compelling vision and shaping core values. These convictions must never be generated out of thin air or influenced simply by the latest leadership fad or trend.

  • Do You Have a Church of Abercrombie People?

    I’ve been watching the controversy surrounding Abercrombie and Fitch the last couple of weeks. First, CEO Mike Jeffries made some comments which confirmed what everyone knows: that they don’t actually want most of us wearing their clothes.

  • The Critical Importance of Vision Alignment in Your Church

    Does culture trump strategy? Annette Franz, a Customer Experience executive, recently weighed in on the discussion with an interesting answer. Read on.

  • Two Dangers of Copying Ministry Practices from Others

    Here is a typical scenario in local church ministry… In the spring, while at a conference, Danny attends a breakout session on small groups. Though the breakout session leader spoke passionately about the “why” of small groups and the importance of a solid ministry philosophy beneath the surface, the vast majority of the questions from those in attendance were about small group practice: How many people in each group? How often do you launch new groups? How often does leader training occur and in what format? What are the leaders called? How does…? Danny feverishly takes some notes on small group practice, notes he plans to implement when he returns to his church.

  • 5 Stages of Capturing a Vision

    As far as I’m concerned, leadership cannot be separated from vision.  All leaders take their teams to a better place; they don’t merely manage their current territory.

  • 3 Kinds of Weak Vision That Entice Church Leaders

    Warning: This post will challenge some of your assumptions about vision in the church. Across the North American church landscape this year, many pastors will articulate a vision and compel people toward a preferred future that is weak.

  • Moving Toward a Counter-Cultural Community, Part 1: Societal Segregation

    For the past several weeks, my disciple-making team and I have been working through what a counter-cultural, gospel-centered community of servants looks like. I think this is an important subject matter, one to which I hope to devote several blogposts.

  • Don’t Let Your Ministries Get Lost in Meaningless Noise: Play from the Same Page

    I recently took my youngest son Graham to a music store to let him bang on the instruments. I decided that even though I love music, I would hate to work in there because all you hear all day is noise.

  • Are You a Smart or Healthy Church Leader?

    Being smart is only half the equation in a successful organization. Yet it somehow occupies almost all the time, energy, and attention of most leaders.

  • Practicing Ministry Alignment in Your Church

    Alignment is the arrangement of all ministries and staff around the same simple process. Alignment to the process means that all ministry departments submit and attach themselves to the same overarching process.

  • Five Primary Sources of Distraction in Ministry

    Yesterday’s post on “opportunity creep” introduced a common problem for pastors. It’s easy for opportunity after opportunity to press in and vie for the precious little time God has given you.

  • Opportunity Creep: It May be Your Biggest Ministry Challenge

    The term “scope creep” is a term consultants use when their clients expect more than what the project originally outlined. The idea is that the scope of the project is slowing getting bigger, usually in imperceptible increments.

  • 4 Disciplines for Leading with Clarity

    An organization doesn’t become healthy in a linear, tidy fashion. - Patrick Lencioni, The Advantage Patrick Lencioni’s latest book The Advantage is a comprehensive, practical guide, covering many of the topics introduced in one of his eight business fable books.

  • How Motivation and Implementation Strategies Define the Multisite Church: 3 Concerns

    McChurch. Franchised Jesus.

  • How Your Church Can Leverage Five Trends in Retail

    I am currently helping a large, non-profit Christian retailer go through a visioning process. Last week a retail consultant led two hours of dialogue in a meeting I attended.

  • 4 Mega Lessons on Keeping Vision Clear with Dramatic Ministry Success

    A few weeks ago I enjoyed a back-to-back connections with three very different and very fruitful ministries. On Monday, I was in Chicago with Dave and John Ferguson on the Community Christian Church team.

  • Developing a “Missional Moleskine” to Understand the Community Around Your Church

    INCORPORATING “PLACES” In my first place (my home), I have started a neighborhood through Next Door. Since doing this six weeks ago, I already know about a dozen of my neighbors’ names that I didn’t know the four years prior to living here.

  • Developing a “Missional Moleskine” to Understand the Community Around Your Church

    Four years ago, I was leading a group from our church in the formation of a launch team for our first daughter church plant. In my series on “cultivating community contacts,” I shared about the “missional moleskine” (not to be confused with the memory moleskine).

  • The Power of Clarity in Your Church’s Vision

    Tears were streaming down his face as he silently wept: “I can see it so clearly… I just haven’t had the ability to put it into words… which makes people think I don’t know where we are going. ” Clarity is powerful.

  • Five Reminders for Making Ministry Videos Viral

    An interesting insight into what makes social content effective has emerged, or at least made itself more visible, in the past year or so. Content is king, but editing may be the queen who’s actually running the castle.

  • Are You Helping or Hurting Your Mission?

    One of the keys to a church’s missional success is how its members are deployed. There are two approaches—one facilitates the church’s mission; the other often frustrates it.

  • 10 Rules of Thumb for Healthy Churches in America

    Using rules of thumb to gauge church health is problematic because they are, well, rules of thumb. There will always be exceptions, extenuating circumstances, and even disagreements on the right metrics.

  • Understanding Megachurches Part 3: Myths

    So this week inadvertently turned into Megachurch Week on the blog. In the event you missed it, everything started  with some data on the continued growth of megachurches.

  • Understanding Megachurches Part 2: Finances

    Recently, Leadership Network released a new study entitled The Economic Outlook of Very Large Churches: Trends Driving the Budgets and Staffing Activities of North America's Biggest Congregations. The infographic below was part of that release.

  • Understanding Megachurches, Part 1: Growth

    One of the more popular series last year on the blog dealt with the question "Can Megachurches be Missional?" It was part of a continuing-- and important-- dialogue within the Christian world. Several people have written and researched at length the trends found in megachurches.

  • Why Vision Casting Should be a Lifestyle for All Leaders in Your Church

    The airline safety briefing card… Doesn’t mean much to a frequent flier. But to a first time flier…it’s gold.

  • A Game-Changing Perspective: Knowing the Difference Between a Decentralized and Fragmented Ministry

    Good church leaders know the importance of releasing and sending people to do ministry. Jesus himself moved quickly from modeling ministry for twelve leaders, to sending out those same twelve to do ministry on their own (Luke 9:1).

  • Why Doesn’t Your Church “Get with the Program”?

    It’s time for the Church to move into the 21st century. Here’s an opportunity for the Church to revise its teaching and increase its reach among young people.

  • The Pope Resigns and Strategic Quitting

    For the first time in 600 years, a Pope resigned. On February 11, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI issued a letter of resignation stating, “After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry.

  • Study Your City: Key Questions Missional Christians Should Be Asking About Their City

    Over the last few years, the word “missional” has gained particular amounts of attention. However, defining missional can be a complicated process.

  • Think of Strategy as Daily Small Steps

    One thing that frustrates me about the word "strategy" is that it implies something big. Sure, strategy is both important and broad reaching, but it is really nothing more than a series of steps.

  • Everything is an Experiment

    One of our core values at National Community Church is everything is an experiment. Let me try to unpack it.

  • Please Stop Herding Me

    As I said in my previous post, I think the primary business of the church is the Moving Business. We are called to help people move from where they are to where God is calling them.

  • Eleven Things Your Church Can Learn from the Airport

    [Of course, this post isn’t actually about airports]. I realized that I don’t dislike flying--I dislike airports.

  • Why Your Church Needs Clarity of Purpose

    Organizations beloved by their customers, those that are true and authentic, work hard every day to resist the pull of “normal” business practices to create a powerful human connection with their customers. They are able to do this because they have something that binds everyone together, moving them toward a common goal: clarity of purpose.

  • Telltale Signs of Being Out of Alignment

    You've probably had the experience of driving a car that is out-of-alignment. At slow speeds, the wobble may be just bothersome.

  • Is Your Church in the Wrong Business?

    What is the core mission of the local church? I think we can learn something by looking at Peter Drucker’s two pivotal questions for business leaders: What is your business? How’s business? These have always been difficult questions for the church to answer. In the middle ages through the Renaissance the church was in the Architecture Business.

  • The Missing Element in Your Organizational Strategy

    In a cover story for a recent issue of Harvard Business Review, Professor John Kotter described a new type of organization that combines speed of execution with agility to seize new opportunities quickly. “Speed plus agility” is the holy grail that leaders of organizations seek to achieve.

  • The Danger in a “Mostly Aligned” Team

    My two worlds collided one recent weekend. I introduced my young daughters to the classic film, The Princess Bride.

  • 10 Major Trends Coming Your Way in 2013

    Here are a few trends that seem to be capturing major attention as we start 2013. I am not proposing that all of these are positive trends, but simply stating them as a picture of reality as move into 2013 and beyond.

  • How (Not) to Inspire a Shared Vision

    Like millions of other Americans, I tuned in to hear President Obama’s second inaugural address.   The President is rightly admired for his strong oratory skills and ability to use communication as an effective leadership skill.

  • Ministry to Millennials: An Example of Why Churches are Stuck

    Saw this report earlier this week from The Millennial Impact project. It identifies several trends with Millennials that should raise concerns and more conversation among church leaders.

  • 6 Times When It’s a Good Idea to Change Your Church’s Mission Statement

    Classic wisdom taught us that our mission or purpose statements are timeless. In many ways that’s true and its a helpful teaching concept.

  • Enron and Your Church

    The Enron scandal is perhaps the most documented case of corporate greed, cover-up, and dishonesty. The lack of integrity displayed by Enron executives robbed people of millions of dollars and led, at that time, the largest corporate bankruptcy in U.

  • The Art of Vision

    VISION = a preferred future – everybody has vision = HOPE What vision can do for you it gives you a clear picture of what you want and what not. the clearer the vision, the easier to say yes or no.

  • Building Your Company’s Vision

    A leadership classic - the following is the 1996 Harvard Business Review article that was the seed for Jim Collins' Good to Great, arguably one of the most influential business books in leadership circles of the church. Companies that enjoy enduring success have core values and a core purpose that remain fixed while their business strategies and practices endlessly adapt to a changing world.

  • What is Your Vision Worth to You?

    The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king, “If it pleases the king and if your servant has found favor in his sight, let him send me to the city in Judah where my fathers are buried so that I can rebuild it. ” Nehemiah 2:4-5 Nehemiah left a comfortable job with the Persian government and risked his life in the presence of the king for the opportunity to rebuild the walls.

  • Church Unique Snapshot for NorthPoint Community Church

    NORTH POINT COMMUNITY CHURCH VISION FRAME Our Mission … to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Our Strategy … to create environments where people are encouraged and equipped to pursue intimacy with God, community with insiders, and influence with outsiders.

  • Your Church and the Art of Neighboring

    I met Jay Pathak in some consultation work I've done with the Vineyard. I was immediately struck by his passion for the community and the mission.

  • How to Win Your Team Again

    Let’s assume for a minute that you’ve been putting some of the foundational, building-block things in place to foster and support healthy culture (things like clarifying the values, making sure teammates understand them, aligning recruiting and hiring strategies with them, etc). You could almost kind of think of these things as a framework.

  • Neighborhood Transitions and the Local Church, Part 4

    So far we've looked at two options churches typically consider when the neighborhood in which they are located goes through change. The first was to to create a true multicultural church.

  • A Picture of Vision

    The other day, as I was boarding an early morning flight out of Hobby Airport in Houston, I looked out the window and had a great view of the early morning sun shimmering on the downtown skyline. It was beautiful.

  • Dealing with Neighborhood Transitions in Your Church, Part 3

    Over the past few weeks, I've been discussing neighborhood transitions and what to do when a church and its community no longer share a socio-economic or ethnic makeup. Last week we looked at relocation as an option.

  • Dealing with Neighborhood Transitions in Your Church, Part 2

    We began a series last week dealing with the transitions churches go through in their life cycle as the community around them begins to change. As I stated last week, I see three primary options: congregational relocation to a context more in line with their congregation, intentional multicultural integration in one congregation, or multi-congregational partnership in one building.

  • The Burden of Church

    After hearing the pastor at the conference admit that he didn't love pastoring and dreamed about doing something else, I decided to investigate. Just about every time I got to spend one-on-one time with a pastor I really respect I asked them, "Do you enjoy what you do? Is this like .

  • Why Jesus Would Go to Vegas if He Came to America

    Vince Antonucci says Vegas is the place Jesus would go if he came to America. If you’re looking for a great example of how to love people outside the church and what it means to be mission oriented, you need to meet Vince Antonucci, pastor of Verve in Las Vegas.

  • 4 Systems Every Church Needs

    You may or may not be a systems person. You may lead a large or very small church.

  • A Vision Resource for German-speaking Church Leaders

    ND Strupler, Leadership Development Director with the ICF Movement in Zurich, Switzerland, just delivered an early Christmas present to Auxano. The Church Unique Visual Summary – translated into German.

  • What I Wish Someone Had Told Me: Leading Pastors Share Thoughts on Vision and Alignment

    Every year, Outreach Magazine provides a profile of the 100 Fastest-growing churches in the country. This year, they had a few interview spots entitled, “What I wish someone told me.

  • My Love-Hate Relationship with Church Vision

    For over 20 years, I have been a big advocate of the need for churches and ministries to get clear about the vision that God is leading them to. I still think that a clear, shared, compelling vision is important and powerful, and yet … I have seen many churches with wonderful vision statements and no forward momentum.

  • How to Exegete Your Community

    Often when I ask another pastor who his church is trying to reach, he gives me a very spiritual answer—lost people. It sounds good, but it usually means the pastor has a very fuzzy view of his own community.

  • The Culture Around Your Church Determines How Best to Reach It

    Emotional Relevance A second principle behind contagious Christianity is emotional relevance.    The European Enlightenment taught that we human beings are unique creatures because we are rational creatures: while we still experience the emotions that we have inherited from our primitive forbears; education has come to lift us into the life of the mind.

  • The Culture Around Your Church Determines How Best to Reach It

    Radical Outreach The contagion of culturally relevant Christianity and emotionally relevant Christianity are experienced fairly directly.   Take the case of a young man who is now one of our seminary students.

  • The Culture Around Your Church Determines How Best to Reach It

    What makes Christianity contagious?  We are sufficiently familiar with some of the answers: Contagious Christianity is imaginative, engaging, enthusiastic, and growing. Those four ways we know; but three others warrant some explanation.

  • Budgeting for the Preferred Future

    I've written about arriving at the preferred future a number of times.  My most requested talk features this concept.

  • Commanding Clarity

    I was honored to attend my friend's change of command ceremony near Seattle. I marveled at the connection between the highly disciplined environment of the military and the practice of clarity.

  • Do You Have a Strategic Operating Plan?

    About a year ago, I wrote about one of the key reasons churches are stuck — they aren’t minding the gap. The gap is the space between a church’s vision and all of the ministry activity that’s taking place.

  • Wal-Mart vs. Mom & Pop Stores: The Power of Branding and How It Can Help Your Church

    I’m not ashamed to admit that one of my favorite movies is You’ve Got Mail—a complete rip-off of Sleepless in Seattle, even using the same lead actors (Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan). Ryan’s character runs a small independent bookshop in Manhattan, while Hanks’s character is opening a large retail bookstore with low prices (if only he’d known how technology would change the way we read) just down the block.

  • The Vision Vacuum

    In my nine years of parenting, I've attended some really bad kid's birthday parties. In my years in ministry, I've also participated (and lead) awkward small groups.

  • Are You Trying to Build a LEGO Church?

    I loved building with Legos when I was a kid. (If I could make a living at it I’d probably still spend most of my time playing with Legos) My experience, however, was different from most.

  • The Time and Place for the Authentic Church

    I have spent my life looking for the biblical, authentic church. When I attended VBS at a small Lutheran church in 1st grade, I was thrilled to get the little silver Bible sticker in my pocket Bible.

  • Personal Vision Questions for Your Vacation, Sabbatical, or Downtime

    This year, the stakes feel higher with personal clarity for a variety of reasons. My ministry is growing, my family is growing.

  • 10 Ways to Use Your Mission Statement Today

    No, you don’t need a cooler mission statement so you can call it a mantra. No you don’t need a better sounding slogan.

  • Would You Recognize Inward Drift in Your Church?

    All organizations tend to lose their focus and forget their original purposes over time. I call this almost imperceptible movement “inward drift.

  • The Importance of Values in Shaping the Culture of Your Church

    Four Values and Four Principles 1) God values people. He values them so much He would leave the 99 who are safe and healthy to go after a single one who is lost.

  • The Importance of Values in Shaping the Culture of Your Church

    The Power of a Discipleship Culture Our visitors commonly ask, “How much staff does it take to run a church of this size?” They’re often surprised to learn it’s less than 400—less than half a percent of the number of people who attend our services. It’s a telling illustration of the power of discipleship.

  • The Importance of Values in Shaping the Culture of Your Church

    Our church, Victory Church in Manila, was planted 28 years ago. Steve Murrell, the founder, is an American missionary who wisely built by creating a culture of discipleship, which for the last 12 years has caused the church to grow at an annual average rate of between 22 percent and 26 percent.

  • The Importance of Values in Shaping the Culture of Your Church

    What are the Great Commission building blocks and transferrable principles for seeing your church lead a movement of Christ followers? In March of this year, two pastors from Michigan and Florida made the trek to Manila to check out our church. Soon into their visit, they expressed their amazement at the way we did church, particularly intrigued by this idea of being one church with multiple services in multiple sites and with multiple preachers.

  • Reiterate Your Vision with Faith and Force, by John Piper

    John Piper has a lot to say to church leaders. But he often doesn’t address vision casting directly.

  • Steve Jobs Delivers 3 Life Lessons on Personal Clarity

    Steve Jobs, one of the world’s most influential inventors, died in October 2011, but his impact lives on in many ways.  If you have the slightest interest in pursuing a personal vision, this 15 minute video is a must watch.

  • The Guide to Ministry Model Making

    In the introduction to Church Unique, I shared my passion that  instead of  leading a great model, “I would rather work behind the scenes as a model maker. My greatest joy is seeing a leader for the first time articulate a stunningly unique model of ministry for his or her church.

  • 2012 Barna Report: Pastors Are Most Interested in Clarity of Church’s Vision & Mission

    As I’ve watched conversations over the past decade, I have observed a growing interest from church leaders in getting mission and vision right.  The latest Barna Group report that studied how pastors plan to improve their churches in the coming year affirms this.

  • A Vision Analysis of the Kony 2012 Video

    If you have not seen the 30-minute Kony 2012 video yet from Invisible Children, I encourage you to do so.  It’s one of the best vision videos you will ever see.

  • Unsame Your Ministry Vision, Part 3

    Now let’s examine a second definition for the word default: Default: A selection made usually automatically or without active consideration due to lack of a viable alternative This definition exposes the liability of that darned hidden vision switch. What’s at stake? Pastors make “automatic” decisions without “active consideration” of “viable alternatives.

  • Unsame Your Ministry Vision, Part 2

    What they are really saying is… “We want more of the same thing the same way. ” Or to spell it out a little more… “We want more of the same thing (people in attendance) the same way (with our existing worship and program offerings).

  • Unsame Your Ministry Vision, Part 1

    Are you going to be satisfied with a future for ministry that is more of the same? Very few pastors break from norm of mediocre church ministry.  But I am convinced it doesn’t have to be that way.

  • Facebook’s Five Core Values and What It Means for Your Ministry

    When Mark Zuckerberg wrote a letter to potential investors, he unpacked the five values that guide everything at Facebook. HERE THEY ARE Focus on Impact: Solve the most important problems that make the biggest difference.

  • You Can’t Love a City if You Don’t Know a City, Part 1

    "The city" is an emerging phrase that seems to be embraced by a growing number of Christians. I intentionally say they are embracing the phrase, because I do not think that all are actually embracing the city, but rather they are embracing the idea of embracing the city.

  • Strategy in the Zone of Mediocrity

    Kevin Hendry talks about "the zone of mediocrity" in the language of business, but many churches also find themselves in the same place. Do you recognize some of the symptoms he lists below? Several years ago I had a discussion with an MBA class on how to recognise good or bad strategy.

  • You Can’t Love a City if You Don’t Know a City, Part 5

    I've been slowly working through this series about how to understand our cities so we can better reach them with the gospel. In today's post, which I co-wrote with Philip Nation, we want to focus in on how to get a study started and what might be the result from one in your own city.

  • You Can’t Love a City if You Don’t Know a City, Part 6

    Today on the blog I have Glenn Barth dropping by as we continue looking at city reaching from a research perspective. Glenn is well-known in the city reaching community (and yes, there is a community working on these ideas).

  • You Can’t Love a City if You Don’t Know a City, Part 4

    I've been working through some idea about researching a city in order to reach a city. In part 2, I introduced a case study of church planting in Baltimore / Washington.

  • You Can’t Love a City if You Don’t Know a City, Part 3

    This is part 3 of a series on city research entitled, "You Can't Love a City if You Don't Know a City. " When working in city research, you have to consider what to include.

  • You Can’t Love a City if You Don’t Know a City, Part 2

    Last week, I started a new series on city research and analysis. I will be taking several approaches, with examples and case studies along the way.

  • What’s the Deal with the Church Growth Movement, Part 3

    In my last post I highlighted three negative unintentional outcomes of the Church Growth Movement. I champion missiologists like Donald McGavran, Win Arn, and others who wanted a missiological focus.

  • What’s the Deal with the Church Growth Movement, Part 2

    As I continue my series about the Church Growth Movement I want to look at three ways the Church Growth Movement evolved. As I said previously, it is easy to take issue with something that was birthed in the 60's (Volkswagen vans and the Beatles were not all bad).

  • What’s the Deal with the Church Growth Movement, Part 1

    Today, I begin a blog series that takes a closer look at the Church Growth Movement. Our approach to church today has been shaped by this movement whether we are conscious of it or not.

  • Vision + Values = Organizational Strength

    Vision without a clearly established set of values will hinder an organization from achieving it’s maximum impact.   One of the key competencies we teach church planters at LAUNCH is “Evaluate your core values and integrate them into the DNA of your church”.

  • Is Your Church’s Vision Clear? How Clarity Changes Everything

    Clarity Evangelist Will Mancini talks about Vision Clarity: "We're addicted to product, but it's process that makes the difference. " Click the video above to hear a short interview by Jeff Moors and Think International.

  • When Tragedy Strikes Your Community, Will Vision Direct Response?

    The church of Vision Room contributor, Rich Birch is starting a rally due to Hurricane Sandy. We wanted Vision Room readers to know about this initiative.

  • The Future of Christianity in the USA

    Last week, I gave some reflections here on the recent Pew Forum data, most specifically about the rise of the "Nones. " I was glad to write more about the issue for USA Today.

  • 4 Keys to Creating Momentum in Your Church

    At times momentum can be an illusive goal. It seems to come when least expected, and dissipates when we feel it should be present.

  • The Vision Veil

    When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the tablets (the 2nd time around), his face was lit up with the glory of God. His countenance was so radiant that he had to cover his face with a veil.

  • A Vision Backer’s Audition

    The other week I saw an interesting facet about the production of plays that I think applies beautifully to the all-important practice of casting vision. Sometimes a new play or film needs outside investment to get off the ground.

  • The Rise of the Nones

    Recently, the Pew Forum released, and USAToday's ever-vigilant Cathy Grossman reported on, another study that I think is helpful for us to understand the context in which we live. In the study, they indicate that the number of Americans with no religious affiliation (identified as the "Nones," as in "none of the above") is climbing.

  • A Master Vision Caster’s Question, Part 2

    Yesterday I introduced a critical question that every leader must answer when it comes to their vision: When do you know the vision has become ingrained in your culture and not just your own dreams. I gave the first indicator yesterday of how you can know when that has happened.

  • A Master Vision Caster’s Question, Part 1

    There’s a crucial question every ministry leader must answer when it comes to their vision.  When do you know the vision has become ingrained in the culture of your church and not just in your own dreams? It’s not enough to have a vision, even a compelling one.

  • Denying Facts You Don’t Like

    Transformational leaders don't start by denying the world around them. Instead, they describe a future they'd like to create instead.

  • 5 Areas Every Church Should Know How to Measure

    I want to revisit the five primary spheres of church ministry that leaders should be tracking, quantifying, and measuring. All five areas can and should be covered on a regular basis and in a systematic way.

  • 6 Signs That You Are Coasting on Original Vision

    I was recently dialoguing with a very successful pastor about the ten-year vision horizon of the large church he pastors. He made a striking comment.

  • Turning Problems into Solutions

    Turning problems into solutions is really a part of our DNA - it's how we make the impossible, possible. .

  • Creativity, Imagination, and Innovation

    Whether it's education, business or a nation, significant accomplishments require us to look beyond our initial perceptions. They take vision, clear goals and unwavering commitment.

  • How to Have a Stunningly Clear Vision for Your Church

    I believe that every gospel-centered church should have a stunningly unique vision. Now it’s possible for church teams everywhere to have access to a guided process to discover, develop and deliver a clear vision.

  • Vision Casting for Children’s Ministry – 7 Golden Principles

    Before my transition to coach-consulting in 2001, I led several different ministry areas at Clear Creek Community Church. An unexpected season of leading the children’s area engaged my love for vision around the importance of serving children.

  • 5 Steps for Courageously Tweaking Your Ministry

    Step One: Ask “Who?” Consider who created the pattern, the model, “the how” of your particular ministry area or ministry responsibility. Did it come from a book, another church (conference), the previous pastor? Someone was the designer.

  • 4 Popular Perspectives on Church in the Last 50 Years (and How the Term “Missional” Fits In)

    A pastor friend sent me an e-mail yesterday asking for some guidance with a missional book  reading list by Sentralized.  As I typed a response, I sent him a chapter that puts “missional” in perspective of how we think about church.

  • 3 Leadership Biases Holding Your Church Back

    The single greatest advantage any company can achieve is organizational health. Yet it is ignored by most leaders even though it is simple, free, and available to anyone who wants it.

  • Christ Fellowship Miami Strategy Book

    Christ Fellowship Miami has done an excellent job defining strategy as their missional map. This map is the process or picture that demonstrates how the church will accomplish its mandate on the broadest level.

  • Church Unique Visual Summary

    The most recent tool in the Church Unique toolbox is the Visual Summary highlighting the key concepts in an entirely enjoyable format. The Church Unique Visual Summary is highly graphic and visually stimulating.

  • Have You Defined What Matters Most for Your Church?

    In this chapter of Church Unique we explore what happens with a stale approach to articulating values and how to do it well from a missional reorientation. .

  • Mission as Mandate

    This chapter discusses the problems of the mission statement, and provides tools and illustrations to articulation your own mission statement as a missional mandate. .

  • The Ultimate Guide to Articulating Vision

    The opening parable of three brick makers that sets the stage for how to articulate vision. .

  • See With New Eyes

    This chapter provides an overview of the Vision Frame. .

  • Field Notes on the Kingdom Concept

    This chapter shares some field notes on Kingdom Concept discovery in order to help others catch what this process really looks like, including common troubleshooting issues. .

  • Church Leader: Do You Know Your Kingdom Concept?

    In Chapter 9 of Church Unique, I introduce a radical idea called the Kingdom Concept that calls leaders to an unprecedented level of clarity. .

  • Learning from Vision Legacies

    In Chapter 8 of Church Unique, I cover the importance of learning from vision legacies. Many pastors today never take the time to look back at the visionaries that have come before them.

  • Ultimate Clarity is Anchored in Jesus

    In Chapter 7 of Church Unique, I share how ultimate clarity is anchored in Jesus Christ. Any idea you ever had about the future was in the mind of God first.

  • 4 Ways to Prepare Yourself for a Vision Process

    In Chapter 6 of Church Unique I talk about four imperatives that a leader must embrace to get through the tunnel of chaos to find stunning clarity on the other side. .

  • 9 Reasons Why Clarity Catalyzes Movement

    In Chapter 5 of Church Unique, I discuss nine reasons why clarity is important because of the way it catalyzes movement. .

  • How to Get Started on Clarity

    An overview of Part 2 of Church Unique: Clarifying Vision. .

  • Lost Congregations: 4 Things That Replace Vision

    In Chapter 4 of Church Unique, I discuss how individuals maintain a "malnourished identity" as a result of the anorexic vision in the church. .

  • Clarity Transcends Methodology

    In Chapter 3 of Church Unique, I share an overview of the last 50 years of church methodology, reveal the real culprit with church growth, and explain how clarity transcends methodology. .

  • What’s Wrong with Strategic Planning?

    In Chapter 2 of Church Unique, I discuss three fallacies with the use of classic strategic planning in the church. .

  • Unoriginal Sin

    In Chapter 1 of Church Unique, I share the foundation of why each church has a unique vision, and explain how church leaders have lost their imaginative thinking today. This chapter is where Will first wrote on "Thinkholes" a topic of much interest from readers and audiences.

  • Church Unique Video Blog

    This is the first video of many short soundbites that will overview the contents of Church Unique, How Missional Leaders Cast Vision, Capture Culture and Create Movement. Clarity Evangelist Will Mancini starts with "Why I wrote Church Unique" and will continue the series with 60-second overviews of each chapter.

  • A Big Question for Max Lucado

    This is the story of why Max Lucado wrote the foreword to Church Unique, How Missional Leaders Cast Vision Capture Culture and Create Movement, by Will Mancini. .

  • Church Unique Introduction

    A brief overview of the Introduction to Church Unique. .

  • It’s Time to Recast Vision

    Part One of Church Unique is unpacked: Recasting Your Vision. .

  • Are Your Values Adding Value?

    A wise leader of any organization will spend significant time thinking through and carefully crafting organizational values. He understands as the team lives out these prescribed behaviors the organization is more likely to accomplish its mission.

  • Are You Ready for the Future?

    What can you do to prepare yourself for the VUCA world of the future? VUCA stands for Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous. Bob Johansen, a long-time futurist, former president of the Institute for the Future (IFTF) and author, insists that forecasts and predictions are not immutable outcomes.

  • Do More of What You Do Best with 6 Powerful Secrets

    Okay, I couldn’t resist calling these “secrets. ” Why? Well, they are such as missing practice in ministry today, they functionally behave like secrets.

  • How to Innovate Like a Shark

    In 1975 a young director with no big films credits under his belt, set out to make a horror film. Steven Spielberg wanted his film filled with violent and gory shark attacks.

  • The Cost of Church Revitalization

    I'm amazed by these words by researcher Ed Stetzer in his book Planting Missional Churches: "Church revitalization does not happen much, but it does happen sometimes. I have been struck by how infrequently it actually occurs.

  • The Value of a Long-Term Plan

    I read a blog post recently that indicated the death of long-term planning was imminent. Their point was that we need to be so flexible in a fast changing world that we should no longer make 5, 10, or 20 year plans.

  • Dealing with Neighborhood Transitions in Your Church, Part 1

    Donald McGavran was a third generation missionary child in India and later a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary. His unique background provided first-hand observations of both the Indian caste system and mid-twentieth century America, including the rise of suburbia and the perceived superiority of certain classes.

  • Great Vision, Bad Execution: 6 Common Mistakes

    It’s a delight to watch teams get clear on the future. But it’s a fright to see that hard work of visioning go south when it comes to execution.

  • What’s Your Mission?

    What’s the big deal about a mission statement? You see them on walls in company lobby areas and inside promotional brochures. But do they really mean anything? Do people actually careabout mission statements? Well…yeah.

  • The Next Logical Step…is Often the Wrong One

    When are you willing to pull the plug on a strategy?  How many times does a strategy need to have the exact same results before you conclude that it is the wrong strategy? When are you willing to rethink an assumption?  How many times are you willing to profess confusion when the outcome is not what you anticipated? How often have you begun thinking about the next ministry season and set in motion an almost exact replica of last year’s approach because you always have a small group fair right after Labor Day (complete with a catalog of semester options) or for that matter, you always do a church-wide campaign in the fall (and your existing groups love including new people for those 6 weeks). I can’t speak for you, but I can say that it’s normal to do again with only slight variation what you’ve done previously.

  • Culture in Your Church

    A church’s philosophy of mission is greatly influenced by how she views the culture around her. How a church views the culture around her will deeply impact how she responds to the community in which she is placed.

Recent Comments
I love Ed's writings and heart. I am frustrated by these articles, however. Much of the missiological basis of the Church Growth Movement are not mentioned, and the origination of the formulas are not substantiated. Also, the Movement via Wagner, started mentioning the importance of health over 3o years ago. I wish these articles were better researched and less sweeping in their generalizations. Things like E1, E2, E3 evangelism, group multiplication, relational networks, faith, health, and the care to measure the right things are largely missing here. Perhaps Ed has earned the right to generalize, but I still was disappointed. But keep researching Ed! Ed and Thom have continued on in the spirit of the movement by doing quality research, and for that I am deeply grateful.
 
— Gary Westra
 
This discussion will continue, for sure. I am tasked with the online worship ministry do our church at FBC Trussville and it is proving to be an important piece of the overall ministry. As in most things In life and technology, balance is in order. Many of our older adults prefer the "live" service online rather than a week or even day-later DVD or downloaded service. They tell me it is important for them to be a part while the service occurs. This is key because if a person simply wanted the message or music or to see the pastor because they "like" him, then it would not need to be live. There is a sense with our people that they need to experience the worship with their church family in real time. Theologically, folks will have issues. This is a disruptive technology for church. But I would hope that before we toss it all away we would approach it with wisdom and humility. Personally, I would like to see the Church grow through small, cost-effective ways like this and not just brick-and-mortar.
 
— Robby
 
It seems this was written awhile ago but I would like to respond. Mr. Surratt makes great points. Points that should be taken seriously by all churches. I just do not think these points are the main reason people are not coming back to churches. Who knows the exact reason why anyone does not come back unless they tell you, but I can say with certainty the reasons I do not return are usually the same. 1. Love, tolerance, and acceptance. (unbelievers, baby Christians) Church members seem to want their guests or potential members to behave a certain way. They want them to conform to the system that is already in place. In some ways this is understandable. In other ways, it is isolating to the guest. They want to feel loved and accepted the way they are. They want to be told everything is ok no matter their past. They want to be given time to work out their immediate more pressing issues without having to worry about what to wear and how to talk (church speak). 2. Love, tolerance, and acceptance (believers, unchurched) Many times, these people are looking for what fits their already preconceived ideas of what "good churches" are. These preconceived notions are difficult to overcome and some of them were addressed in Mr. Surratt's article. But I can tell you that a truly loving, a truly tolerant, and a truly accepting church can overcome most of these things. You may never be able to overcome a taste in music, or a theological difference, but most everything else can be healed with Love. 3. People can see the business aspect of the church. I see it almost immediately when I walk into certain churches for the first time. I think people understand that a church has many aspects of itself that are business oriented. I just believe they dont want to experience these aspects when they visit. How many churches are so focused on growth, in numbers of bodies, that they forget the growth of the heart? The American church is now fully Americanized. Its a show and a numbers game. People come to church, especially new comers, CRAVING to fill a void in their life. If you are offering the same thing they can get in the real world, how are you any different? There are plenty of other reasons people do not return and many may not be avoidable. However, the church as a whole needs to reevaluate the arena in which they are playing. The simplicity of the Gospel is good enough to fulfill the hearts of the unbelievers and restore the prodigal's to a relationship with Christ. Love thy neighbor as thyself and love thy God with all your heart.
 
— Shay Wallace
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.