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. Many great God-given dreams die in the vision-casting stage. In fact, there are seven particular things you need to make sure your people understand in the process of sharing your vision with them.

1. Who you are. What’s your church about? Every church should fulfill the five biblical purposes of worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism. But how you fulfill the purposes depends upon the distinct nature of your church. What makes your church unique? People aren’t the only ones with a particular shape; whole churches have them as well. When you’re communicating vision to your church, you’ve got to help people see how your church is unique.

2. Where you are going. Besides communicating your identity, you need to communicate the church’s direction and goals. Leadership is influence, and the quickest way to tell if you’re a leader is to look over your shoulder. If somebody’s following you, you’re a leader. If nobody’s following you, you’re not the leader. It’s that simple. The moment you have to tell people, “I’m the leader!” you’re not. Leadership is knowing where you’re going and being able to persuade people to come along with you. That’s influence. If you don’t know where you’re going, nobody else will, and nobody’s going to follow you. To communicate vision, you’ve got to communicate where you’re going.

3. Why you are going there. Once we’ve communicated where we’re going, we’ve got to tell our congregations why we’re going there. At Saddleback we do this through Class 101. A membership class is a great place to communicate the why of what you’re doing. People will have a hard time following you to where God wants you to go if they don’t understand the motivation behind it.

4. What it feels like to be going there. People want to be in on fun – and they want to be fulfilled. No one wants to be left out of excitement. To get people behind your vision, you need to communicate to people how fulfilling it will be to join God in what he’s doing through your church. People are looking for significance. You’ve got to let people know they’ll find significance by investing their lives in seeing God’s kingdom expand.

5. What people can do. As a part of vision-casting you need to help individuals in your church see what they can do. Everybody will need to play his or her part in realizing the vision of the church. You’ll need to give your congregation practical and immediate parts they can play in the process. You’ve got to help them see that their individual ministry contributes the progress of the whole. A good leader does that.

6. How you’re going to do it. Share with your congregation how you’re going to move forward. Be specific. As soon as you share your vision for your church, people will want to know how you’re going to do it. Let them in on the strategy. It’s going to help the vision become more reachable in the minds of your congregation.

7. What the rewards will be. Tell your church what the benefits will be for fulfilling the vision that God has for you. Focus on the spiritual and emotional benefits. What will it be like when Jesus tells you, “well done good and faithful servant”? That’s the most important reward we’ll get from doing what God calls us to do.

Vision-casting is an important part of your role as a pastor. God has a vision for your church. Your job is to help your parishioners get behind that vision. You’ll need to communicate these seven things when you do that.

Read more from Rick here.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

7 Killer Lessons from Derwin Gray’s School of Ministry Vision Casting

I have the privilege of spending lots of time thinking about, reading about and listening to others talk about vision. Rarely do I find so much packed into one learning experience as I did with Derwin Gray who recently spoke at a Velocity.

Derwin is a former professional football player who leads Transformation Church. I have arranged fifteen quotes from his talk that boil down the essence of Derwin’s philosophy. These ideas are so clear in articulation and comprehensive in scope,  they actually create a mini-course in one post.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

  • Effectively casting vision never comes to an end.  It is a discipline.
  • You never leave the fundamentals.  You just drive deeper and deeper into them.
  • We are ruthless in our communication of the vision over and over and over again.
  • You cannot cast a vision that has not cast a spell over you.
  • Your ethos, culture must communicate the vision.
  • If you want to know what your vision is just look around.
  • Do your systems and processes move like an arrow to make your vision sharper?
  • Vision is the God-inspired ability to see a future that does not yet exist, but should.  This future is so Messiah-exalting and life-giving that people run into the future and drag back to the present.
  • What is not, but should be, according to the glory of God?
  • An effective vision casting has four parts – The Problem.  The Solution.  Why The Vision Must Be Implemented.  Why The Vision Must Be Implemented NOW.
  • Do you really believe your church can give a foretaste of the New Heaven and New Earth.
  • Every member has a role to play.  I am calling them into their destiny.
  • Every human being wants to be part of a cause beyond them.
  • The essence of leadership is embodying what you want people to do.
  • What sense would it make to learn the plays but not play the game?

Think for a minute, how consuming the very idea of vision is for Derwin. When we read these quotes, we gain all of these fundamental lessons about vision. Here is a restatement of Derwin’s ideas in seven killer principles.

#1   Vision is a daily pursuit that you never outgrow but only grow deeper in. #2   Vision is inseparable from culture and therefore it connects to every other act of leadership, decision-making and communication.  #3   Vision is not a organizational idea first but a human idea #4   Vision is nothing if it’s not rooted in human problem and growing toward God’s glory.  #5   Vision is a waste of time if it doesn’t involve everyone today. #6   Vision must be lived as it is heard or it won’t really be heard. #7   Vision gives meaning to the daily immersion of activity.

What else strikes you form these quotes?

Read more from Will here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

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. We kept decent records, so I got the old “outreach cards” for the previous year. My brief research shocked me.

I estimated that we had invested nearly 1,500 hours of our members’ time in this ministry during the past year. The apparent result of our ministry had resulted in, at best, two Christian families joining our church. If you assume a workday of eight hours, our members had worked 187 full days with no evangelistic fruit.

The Encounter

When I presented my research to a leader in the church and suggested we look at other alternatives, he raised his voice almost to a scream: “But we have always done it that way. And ten years ago we saw dozens of people become Christians through this ministry every year. We’re not about to change!” When I asked what we should do about the 1,500 hours of apparently fruitless ministry, he said we should try to increase the number to 3,000 hours.

The Memory

Don’t get me wrong. Your church may have great success in door-to-door outreach. My purpose in writing this article is not to pass judgment on a methodology. My purpose is to ask the question: Are organizational memories, commonly known as sacred cows, hindering our effectiveness for the gospel?

In my church there were great memories of this method of outreach. The thought of looking to other more effective alternatives almost seemed to violate some sacred principle. Interestingly, some of the most vociferous opponents of change were those who no longer participated in the ministry.

The Honesty

Fortunately, we were able to get beyond the emotions to have an honest and frank discussion about the ministry. I brought together leaders from both sides of the issue. We discovered two main reasons our ministry was running into roadblocks that it did not have ten years earlier. First, many of the neighborhoods had transitioned from Deep South transplants to Northern transplants. The latter group was not culturally acclimated to people “just dropping by.” Second, about one-third of the residents were in gated communities, a significant increase from ten years earlier.

We came away from that meeting with a few changes that kept us outwardly focused without the frustration of the old methodology. The critics did not disappear immediately, but we were able to deal with them without major disruption.

The Principles

Organizational memory in our church had the potential of hindering our gospel effectiveness. The initial frustrated response to the problem was to double our ineffective efforts from 1,500 hours a year to 3,000 hours. But we did move beyond this issue. The changes were not without pain though. Here are the five steps we took to move beyond organizational memory.

  1. We involved key leaders on both sides of the issue. Several people had emotional ties to our ministry. It was good for those on each side of this issue to hear the other perspective.
  2. We asked if we could accomplish our goals with more effective means. Even some of the greatest detractors recognized that the means had become an end. We concluded that our true goal was not to maintain a program, but to share the gospel and our church with our neighbors.
  3. We paired leaders from opposite sides for an hour to present possible alternatives. This exercise was immensely valuable. It got all of us thinking about the true goal rather than the preservation of an ineffective program.
  4. We left with an intentional decision to move forward with two pilot ministries. We declared neither new ministry to be sacrosanct, but decided to test them for a predetermined period of six months. We also agreed to return as a group in six months to evaluate our progress or lack of progress.
  5. We recognized as a group that we would still have critics for eliminating the old ministry. Our goal was not to eliminate criticism, but to minimize it and to deal with the critics in a Christ-like manner.

On the one hand, I would evaluate our process as a success. We were able to deal effectively with the sacred cow that was hindering our progress. On the other hand, our replacement ministries were only slightly more effective than their predecessor ministry. At the end of six months, some were wondering if we made a mistake by doing away with the old ministry.

Leading a church to change is rarely a smooth road. It is often three steps forward and two steps backward. But the process we took became very helpful in my leadership in future churches and other organizations.

How do you deal with sacred cows in your church? What have been some of your victories? What have been some of your struggles?

Read more from Thom here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer

Thom Rainer is the president and CEO of LifeWay Christian Resources.  Prior to LifeWay, he served at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for twelve years where he was the founding dean of the Billy Graham School of Missions and Evangelism.  He is a 1977 graduate of the University of Alabama and earned his Master of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition to speaking in hundreds of venues over the past 20 years, Rainer led Rainer Group, a church and denominational consulting firm, from 1990 to 2005. The firm provided church health insights to over 500 churches and other organizations over that period. Rainer and his wife, Nellie Jo, have three grown sons: Sam, Art and Jess, who are married to Erin, Sarah and Rachel respectively.  The Rainers have six grandchildren: Canon, Maggie, Nathaniel, Will (with the Lord), Harper, and Bren. He is the author of twenty-four books, including Breakout Churches, Simple Life, Simple Church, Raising Dad, The Millennials, and Essential Church.  His latest book, Autopsy of a Deceased Church, was released in 2014 by B&H Publishing Group.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

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. They are much more open to the supernatural, to spirituality, and to religion, but not necessarily to Christianity.

In general, the church knows how to thrive in the shrinking enclaves of traditional people, but does not know how to thrive in this expanding post-everything culture.

Tim Keller, pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, thinks there is great hope for the church if it: (a) has the humility to admit we are not doing the job, and (b) in a non-triumphalistic way, advance the answers that our theology provides.

Keller goes on to add that “We must first find ways to minister in three areas: universities, big cities, and ethnically diverse situations.” He has developed 6 keys to help the church understand and reach the post-everything generation.

Download this important challenge to the church as it seeks to minister to the emerging culture from Tim Keller here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim Keller

Timothy Keller is the founder and senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Reason for God and The Prodigal God. He has also mentored young urban church planters and pastors in New York City and other cities through Redeemer City to City, which has helped launch over 200 churches in 35 global cites to date.

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Maureen Dillon, VP/Comunications/The Generational Imperative, Inc. — 01/26/14 5:50 am

Chuck Underwood is one of the pioneering scholars of Generational Study and has recently launched a training program in Generational Faith-Based Strategy for clergy of all religions. He began this program with an Ohio diocese of the Episcopal Church, whose priests have evaluated the training - and the strategy - as "transformative", saying it "changes everything". For a brief introduction to Mr. Underwood's generational consulting and training, visit: www.genimperative.com. And to receive an e-brochure that explains Generational Faith-Based Strategy, email: info@genimperative.com. Mr. Underwood is the host of four new PBS national-television shows that will air around the country beginning this summer. The ongoing series - three shows have already aired - is entitled AMERICA'S GENERATIONS WITH CHUCK UNDERWOOD.

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

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. A gregarious, sought-after author, speaker, and business consultant, he is characterized by friends, colleagues, and clients as one of the most insightful, powerful, and compassionate individuals in business today.

Blanchard’s bold statement?

We are in desperate need of a clear and compelling vision for our country.

A vision is a picture of the future that produces passion, and it’s this passion that people want to follow. An organization without a clear vision or goals is like a river without banks—it stagnates and goes nowhere.

Here’s how Blanchard takes the concept of creating a compelling vision one segment at a time and applies it to Washington.

>>Do we know what business we are in as a country?

A significant purpose tells you the reason for your existence. In other words, it answers the question “Why?” rather than just explaining what you intend to do. So, what’s the purpose of the United States?

>>What is America’s picture of the future?

The second aspect of a compelling vision is a picture of the future. What do you want to be true in the future that is not true today? If you do a great job at what you’re doing, what will happen?  Focus on the end result, not the process of getting there. And your picture of the end result should not be abstract—it should be a mental image you actually can visualize. So what’s the picture of the future for our country?

>>Do we have any agreed-upon values in our country?

The last component of a compelling vision is having a clear set of operating values. What will guide our behavior as we move forward? Values provide guidelines for how you should proceed as you pursue your purpose and the picture of the future. They answer the questions “What do I want to live by?” and “How?” What are the operating values that should guide the behavior of our leaders in Washington?

For a compelling vision to endure, all three elements—a significant purpose, a picture of the future, and clear values—are needed to guide behavior on a day-to-day basis.

Blanchard illustrates a compelling vision with this story:

A perfect example of this is the way Martin Luther King, Jr. outlined his vision and beliefs about equality and freedom in his “I Have a Dream” speech. By describing a picture of the future where his children “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character,” he created powerful and specific images arising from the values of brotherhood, respect, and freedom for all—values that resonate with those of the founding values of the United States. King’s vision continues to mobilize and guide people beyond his lifetime because it illuminates a significant purpose, provides a picture of the future, and describes values that resonate with people’s hopes and dreams.

What are America’s key national goals?

If our leaders had a clear, agreed-upon vision, it would help them set national goals they could focus on. Then they could invite everyone, including citizens, to play a part in accomplishing these goals.

If people don’t have a larger purpose to serve, the only thing they have to serve is themselves.

Read the full article here.

 

Note: Tomorrow, August 28th, 2013 is the 50th anniversary of Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech mentioned by Ken Blanchard above. The Vision Room will have a special post honoring Dr. King and demonstrating the power of a vision communicated well.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ken Blanchard

Few people have impacted the day-to-day management of people and companies more than Ken Blanchard. A gregarious, sought-after author, speaker, and business consultant, he is characterized by friends, colleagues, and clients as one of the most insightful, powerful, and compassionate individuals in business today. Ken is the cofounder and Chief Spiritual Officer of The Ken Blanchard Companies, an international management training and consulting firm that he and his wife, Margie Blanchard, began in 1979 in San Diego, CA.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

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. This is a shrinking market, and eventually evangelical churches ensconced in the declining, remaining enclaves of Christendom will have to learn how to become missional.

If they do not, they will decline or die.

We don’t simply need evangelistic churches; rather, we need missional churches.

Dr. Timothy Keller, founder and senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, suggests that there are 5 practices that missional churches need to exhibit:

  • Speak in the vernacular
  • Enter and retell the culture’s stories with the gospel
  • Theologically train laypeople for public life and vocation
  • Create Christian community that is countercultural and counterintuitive
  • Practice Christian unity as much as possible on the local level

 

>>Download this important teaching from Dr. Keller here.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tim Keller

Timothy Keller is the founder and senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City, and the New York Times bestselling author of The Reason for God and The Prodigal God. He has also mentored young urban church planters and pastors in New York City and other cities through Redeemer City to City, which has helped launch over 200 churches in 35 global cites to date.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

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.

Alignment ensures the entire church body is moving in the same direction, and in the same manner.

When a church is fully aligned, all ministries are operating from the same ministry blueprint. The ministries not only embrace the simple process, but they are engaged in it. Each ministry department mirrors the process in that particular area.

Without alignment, the church can be a multitude of subministries. In this case each ministry has its own leaders who are only passionate about their specific ministry. They rarely identify with the entire church but are deeply committed to their own philosophy of ministry.

In a church that lacks alignment, everyone is competing for the same space, resources, volunteers, and time on the calendar.

In a church that lacks alignment, it does not feel like one body. It feels more like a building that houses a wide variety of ministries.

All churches naturally drift away from alignment.

Most of the times it is not addressed. The reasons vary. For one, it is painful to do so because committed people who have been around for a long time are passionate about their particular way of doing ministry. Sadly, they are more passionate for their area than for the church as a whole. Addressing misalignment also takes time and energy. It costs something to address it.

Unfortunately, it costs more not to address misalignment.

When misalignment on a car is not addressed, the results are damaging. Tires can blow out while driving. Damage to the wheels can occur. The same is true for a church. When misalignment is not addressed, there is damage.

Without alignment, complexity is certain.

Simple churches practice alignment. They intentionally fight the drift into misalignment. They insist that each staff member and each ministry embrace and execute their simple ministry process.

Read more from Eric here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger serves as the Vice President of the Church Resource Division at LifeWay Christian Resources. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. He is also a teaching pastor and a frequent speaker and consultant on church mission and strategy. Eric authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, playing with his daughters, and shooting basketball.

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COMMENTS

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Sanyu Roberts — 08/29/15 7:51 pm

I am humbled, and for that reason would love to thank God for Eric Geiger, a minister in the present times where the church so much requires alignment. On the 28th of December 2014, God spoke to me concerning the issue of Alignment in church, self alignment for ministers and since then, I have carried the message to whoever cares. So then, I was curious to find out about which ministers of God have the same message and when I googled "which ministers have addressed the issue of alignment in church today?", I was able to come across Eric's message. I would so much love to connect with Vision Room even more. May the good lord bless you. Sanyu Roberts Director/Founder Rescue Foundation for Children at Risk(REFCAR)

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

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.

The first step to dealing with opportunity creep is to identify the sources of opportunities in way that repositions them as distractions. If we don’t understand that most opportunities are distractions in disguise, it will be hard to say “no” to the next seemingly “good” thing. See if these sources clarify the point:

Opportunity Becomes Distraction #1: The New is Askew

Who doesn’t love something new? Especially for us creative types its easy to feel the rush of the next. But the lure of the new can drive us to do too much at the same time, or too much to fast. The opportunistic personalities among us will look for the next ministry “find” before going deeper with what we already have. This week I was with a church that lamented, “Our people aren’t clear about who we are because we re-package ourselves every six months.” In short, make sure the next new thing is a deeply “you thing.”

Opportunity Becomes Distraction #2 Off-Mission Permission

In the desire for more ministry its easy to say “yes” to the ideas of well-meaning members. The problem is that most of their ministry aspirations are misdirected because they want to create more church structure and programming rather than living out their gifts and calling in life. The church very quickly becomes over-programmed and under-discipled.  The “more is more” default mode of program-permission clutters a simple discipleship experience in and through the church. Helping people dream big for Jesus is beautiful, overcomplicating church is not.

Opportunity Becomes Distraction #3: Funny Money

There is nothing more freeing than an abundance of resources, unless it comes with the proverbial attached string. Beware of that check-cutting, money-slinging individual—whether its a new member of an influential elder—that’s ready to fund the next thing (that they brought to the table.) If a new idea is connected to designated giving, always ask, “Would our vision really have taken us in this direction?” If people are not willing to subordinate their giving to the existing vision of the church, than it’s probably as distraction in disguise. (Sorry to break the bad news.)

Opportunity Becomes Distraction #4: Knowledge Trafficking

I enjoy learning as do most called into vocational ministry. But when our pursuit of knowledge outpaces our put-in-use of knowledge we’ll get used to living with distraction. To make matters worse, now you can get a direct feed of whatever-you-want-to-learn, whenever-you-want-to-learn through the fifty devises in your life. Don’t let your smart phone turn you into a not-so-smart leader. One of the greatest benefits of organizational and personal clarity, by the way, is the ability to ruthlessly filter out non-relevant new data.

Opportunity Becomes Distraction #5: Platform Jacking

The last source of distraction meddles a bit more than the others. Platform jacking is when we divert too time and energy to gaining influence through opportunities outside of direct day-to-day ministry responsibilities. There is certainly nothing wrong with wanting to “bless the capital ‘C’ church”— a noble aspiration for sure! Yet I am amazed at how quickly the favor of God on a pastor can back-fire on the mission of the ministry.  The success of the local church can become a “success distraction” for the pastor who spends increasing amounts of time growing his or her platform. Most of us have seen this in someone else, so just be discerning for yourself.

Read more from Will here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

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.

Church, what can we learn from this?

Let me share a recent situation I witnessed that illustrated this principle for me.

I’ve learned my way around an airport over the years of traveling in business, government amd now ministry. So much so that I don’t listen to the directions very well. It gets me in trouble sometimes. i amost missed a flight recenlty because I didn’t hear a gate change. But, mostly, I pretty much know what they’re gonna say…or think I do.

Flight delay, right? I saw if coming.

Safety talk? I could recite it.

I’m like a steward runner up. If ever they can’t perform their duties I’m in.

“Ladies and gentleman, please take a moment to familiarize yourself with the safety features of this Boeing Dc9.There’s a safety card in the seat in front of you…”

“Federal regulations require…blah, blah, blah, right?”

If you’ve traveled much…You know the drill.

But recently I was reminded why they do that every time. The same way. Always.

On our plane was one who had never flown before. Ever. He was in his sixties I would guess, but this was his first flight.

And he paid attention to everything. Everything. I watched him read the card. He looked around to “familiarize yourself with the exit signs”. He clung to every word of the steward. He was the model passenger.

Why? It was all new to him.

You see, everyone might be accustomed to the routine, but there’s always a chance, like for this guy, where it’s someone’s very first time.

It was also a great reminder for me as a church leader.

That’s the way it is for some who come to church…every Sunday.

Some could script things. Some could preach should I not be able to fulfill my duties. Some would probably actually prefer that.

But there’s always one (hopefully) who has never been here before. Perhaps ever.

Perhaps they’ve never been to any church…ever. They don’t speak our language of church.

As a pastor, I’ve always been concerned about that one.

And as I read the Bible,that seems like a Jesus characteristic too. He encouraged leaving the 99 found to seek and assist the 1 who was lost.

That’s why it’s important that we tell our vision.

Tell it clearly. It’s why we must explain things well. Very well. It’s why we must communicate basic information. Every week. Every time.

(Even if it’s boring to the rest of us…to someone…it’s gold!)

Thanks for the reminder U. S. Air. And that random guy who was flying for the first time. I hope it was a great experience for you.

Read more from Ron here.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ron Edmondson

Ron Edmondson

As pastor at Immanuel Baptist Church a church leader and the planter of two churches, I am passionate about planting churches, but also helping established churches thrive. I thrive on assisting pastors and those in ministry think through leadership, strategy and life. My specialty is organizational leadership, so in addition to my role as a pastor, as I have time, I consult with church and ministry leaders. (For more information about these services, click HERE.)

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

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.

If the Church doesn’t change, it will get left behind.

Peppered throughout the news coverage of Pope Benedict’s resignation announcement are comments like these from “practicing Catholics” who are politicians or common Catholics interviewed on the street.

The subtext behind these statements is this: The Church needs to get with the program.

Now, as a Baptist, I have more than a few disagreements with the teaching of the Church of Rome – sola scriptura being the watershed issue from which flows a whole host of other doctrines and practices. Despite overtures from Pope Benedict on the doctrine of justification, Trent still stands (unfortunately).

But let’s go back to this notion of the Church “getting with the program.” First off, the idea that the global Church should cater to the whims of a shrinking number of North American Catholics betrays a stunning ethnocentrism and an imperialistic mindset among elites who, ironically, would consider themselves “multi-cultural.”

Beyond that, however, I find it interesting that evangelicals are facing the same kind of cultural pressures.

If a pastor won’t get with the program and recant his previous opposition to homosexuality, then he’s off the inaugural platform.

After all, we’re in the 21st century now! What’s this continued opposition to abortifacient drugs? What’s this old-fashioned idea that kids need a mom and a dad, not two of the same gender? For heaven’s sake, get your head out the clouds and put your feet on the ground!

What we see in these conversations are two overarching themes: authority and eschatology.

Authority

The first is the question of authority. The assumption behind the recent calls for the Catholic Church to change is that Christians belong to a purely human institution that can adjust and tweak its teachings at culture’s beck and call.

In other words, cultural consensus is the authority. When Christians are out of line, they ought to pressure their church to modify its teachings to comply with the newfound consensus.

But the catholic church (I’m using small “c” catholic now, to refer to the universal church, not the Church of Rome) is not a human organization. The proclamation of the church is that Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord. We believe this to be objectively true. It is not a human label slapped onto a human institution, but a divine revelation taken up and carried by a people called out by God for His missionary purposes in the world.

I admire the way the Pope has answered critics who wonder why he hasn’t pushed for women priests, for example. Benedict responds:

The Church has “no authority” to ordain women. The point is not that we are saying that we don’t want to, but that we can’t.

Following (Christ) is an act of obedience. This obedience may be arduous in today’s situation. But it is important precisely for the Church to show that we are not a regime based on arbitrary rule. We cannot do what we want. Rather, the Lord has a will for us, a will to which we adhere, even though doing so is arduous and difficult in this culture and civilization.

Appealing to the authority of Christ is exactly the right road to take on these matters.

We operate from within a worldview in which Jesus Christ is the Lord who reigns over His people. Because He is King, we cannot tinker with His Word and then glibly go on as if the fundamental truth of our proclamation has remained unchanged. Once you bow to cultural consensus, your declaration of Christ’s lordship is meaningless.

It all comes down to this: Who’s in charge? Who is your authority? 

Eschatology

Then, there’s the eschatology pulsing through these conversations. Don’t make the mistake of relegating eschatology to the bargain bin filled with Left Behind books. We see eschatology all over the place.

Consider this comment: When will the church move into the 21st century? That question betrays a very clear notion of time and progress, the idea that history is moving somewhere.

But contrary to Piers Morgan’s view of the world, history is not moving in a solely upward direction, as we become more and more “enlightened” and free from the taboos of previous generations. The idea that the church must change because, after all, we are in a new day, and in this day and age, we don’t go for things like that… well, that kind of talk betrays a rival eschatology to that of the church. It puts the climax of history in the Enlightenment of the 1700′s and charts an upward progression.

To be sure, things have improved. Technological advances in the past thirty years alone are stunning. And yet, technological progress has its dark side. There is no end to our depravity. Nuclear bombs. Terrorism. Drone attacks. The list goes on.

The rival eschatology says, “The world is improving and the church is stuck in the past. Get it in gear, or get left behind.” Denominations fall all over themselves to follow suit and not run afoul of the cultural zeitgeist, only to discover their sanctuaries emptied of people and their pulpits emptied of power.

The world tells evangelicals (and Catholics, it seems), Jump on the bandwagon of cultural progress like all the mainline denominations have. Oh yes, and we can seen just how well that has worked out for them, can’t we?

“It is always easy to let the age have its head,” said G. K. Chesterton. “The difficult thing is to keep one’s own.”

We Have a Program

The reason the church can’t afford to “get with the program” is that we already have one. It’s called the Great Commission. It is the program given to us after Christ’s resurrection. We are to go into all the world to preach – however unpopular the message will be – to all nations. 

  • Our message is powerful.
  • Our mission is global.
  • Our methods are adaptable.

But the program stands. King Jesus has summoned us and sent us out.

We are not beholden to the authority of “cultural consensus.” Neither are we living according to the fictional eschatological timetable concocted by those who have drunk deeply of Enlightenment philosophy without knowing it.

We are a resurrection people. The King has already given us a program. And that is why we can’t get with the world’s.

Read more from Trevin here.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Trevin Wax

Trevin Wax

My name is Trevin Wax. I am a follower of Jesus Christ. My wife is Corina, and we have two children: Timothy (7) and Julia (3). Currently, I serve the church by working at LifeWay Christian Resources as managing editor of The Gospel Project, a gospel-centered small group curriculum for all ages that focuses on the grand narrative of Scripture. I have been blogging regularly at Kingdom People since October 2006. I frequently contribute articles to other publications, such as Christianity Today. I also enjoy traveling and speaking at different churches and conferences. My first book, Holy Subversion: Allegiance to Christ in an Age of Rivals, was published by Crossway Books in January 2010. (Click here for excerpts and more information.) My second book, Counterfeit Gospels: Rediscovering the Good News in a World of False Hope(Moody Publishers) was released in April 2011.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
What happens when u dont have a meeting place any more. And u was forced out because the buliding wasnt available any more.
 
— Debra
 
If someone wants entertainment they're going to the wrong place. Church is not a place for entertainment...or in my opinion a barrage of coffee and donuts. Why are churches today bringing the world INTO them? Then there's the thing with children...age appropriate??? These little guys can pick stuff up in service. Besides Jesus said Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Mt. 19:14.
 
— Laurie
 
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.