8 Strategic Decisions that Serve Your Mission

At the church I pastor, Mecklenburg Community Church (Meck), our mission is clear: to help spiritual explorers become fully devoted followers of Christ. In our culture, we’ve observed that the “nones” – those with no religious affiliation – are on the rise and, as a direct result of this, Generation Z is proving to be the first truly post-Christian generation.

In order for Meck to be effective at not only reaching the unchurched, but unchurched nones and (specifically) Generation Z, we realized that we had to make some decisions. Eight decisions, to be precise, that have proven to be strategic in serving our mission.

1. Rethinking Evangelism

It is time to rethink evangelism, and that begins with capturing a new understanding of evangelism; one that sees evangelism as both a process and an event. When someone comes to saving faith in Christ, there is both an adoption process and an actual decision event. In light of today’s realities, there must be fresh attention paid to the process that leads people to the event of salvation. The goal is not simply knowing how to articulate the means of coming to Christ, but how to facilitate and enable the person to progress from a point of having no relationship with Christ to one where they are even able to consider accepting Christ in a responsible fashion.

2. Adopting an Acts 17 Model

In Acts 2, we find Peter speaking to the God-fearing Jews of Jerusalem. His sermon wasn’t even the length of a good blog, yet 3,000 repented because they had a good, foundational knowledge of the Scriptures.

Move forward to Acts 17, with Paul on Mars Hill speaking to the philosophers and spiritual seekers of Athens. Here was a spiritual marketplace where truth was relative, worldviews and gods littered the landscape, and the average person wouldn’t know the difference between Isaac and an iPad. Sound familiar? Paul couldn’t take an Acts 2 approach here, much less give an Acts 2 message. He had to find a new way to connect with the culture and the people in it. He had to go all the way back to the beginning of creation and work his way forward.

This is precisely where we find ourselves today. Which means our primary cultural currency needs to be explanation.

3. Being Cultural Missionaries

I think we all know what a good missionary would do if dropped into the darkest recesses of the Amazon basin to reach an unreached people group. They would learn the language, try to understand the customs and rituals, and work to translate the Scriptures – particularly the message of the Gospel – into the indigenous language. When it comes to worship, they would incorporate the musical styles and instruments of the people. They might even attempt to dress more like them. In short, they would try to build every cultural bridge they could into the world of that unreached people group in order to bring Christ to bear.

Why is it that what would be so natural, so obvious, so clear to do in that missiological setting is so resisted in the West?

In being cultural missionaries, we must be laser sharp in our focus, which means pulling out all the stops to reach the unchurched in our city.

4. Skewing Young

One of the natural flows of the church is that left to itself, the church will grow old. It will age. And that means, by default, you will not reach the coming generations. So while the goal is not to simply be a church for young people, neither is the goal to be a church for old people – a church that will have one generational cycle before closing its doors. This means the leadership of the church must invest a disproportionate amount of energy and intentionality in order to maintain a vibrant population of young adults.

At Meck, we’ve used three simple strategies to accomplish this goal: 1) To attract young people, you have to hire young people; 2) To attract young people, you have to platform young people; and, 3) To attract young people, you have to acknowledge young people.

Bottom line? Sometimes bridging a cultural divide is as simple as who you hire, who you put on stage, and who you acknowledge.

5. Targeting Men

At Meck we unashamedly target men in our outreach, in our messages, in our… well, almost everything. We have become convinced through years of experience that if you get the man, you get everyone else within his orbit – specifically, his wife and his children.

What does it mean to target men? It means you think about male sensibilities in terms of music and message, vocabulary and style. One of the most frequent things we hear from women is: “My husband loves this church. I could never get him to church before. But now he comes here even when I don’t!” And she will go where he wants to go. Get him, you get her. Get him and her, you get the family. It’s as simple as that.

6. Prioritizing Children’s Ministry

At Meck, we prioritize children’s ministry above every other ministry. Why? Because it is the most important ministry for the mission of the church. Too many churches treat children’s ministry as a necessary evil. It’s often severely underfunded, understaffed and underappreciated. Wake up. Children are the heart of your growth engine. And if an unchurched person ever was to come to your church uninvited, it would probably be for the sake of their kids. And if they come because they were invited, what you do with their children will be a deal breaker. If you want to reach Generation Z, realize that many of them are in your children’s ministry right now or will only be reached if they choose to enter it. Make sure that when they do, it is an experience that will have them begging to come back.

7. Cultivating a Culture of Invitation

At Meck, a culture of invitation is both cultivated and celebrated. That’s what we do and what we’re after. We talk about inviting our friends and family all the time. We create tools to put in the hands of people to use to invite their friends all the time. We celebrate and honor people who invite people all the time.

Such tools can be something as simple as pens with the name of our church and our website to hand to someone needing a pen, or empty pizza boxes with a card inside inviting them to Meck and a voucher for a free pizza – no strings attached – to bring to someone when you see a moving truck. For special times in the life of the church, like Easter and Christmas, we design tools to be fun – fun to give and fun to receive. People use these things all the time to reach out to their unchurched family, friends, neighbors and anyone else they interact with in their orbit.

8. Discipling Your Mission

I cannot begin to express how important it is to “disciple your mission.” I’ve never heard that phrase, so let me coin it. To “disciple your mission” means that you develop your discipleship, first and foremost, around who it is you are trying to reach. We are trying to reach the unchurched, and even more than that, the nones, in view of the pressing challenge of the rise of Generation Z. So our discipleship is going to be two-fold: serve the needs of our existing believers for missional engagement, and disciple the newly converted on the most foundational aspects of Christian life and thought.

So where does discipleship find its home at Meck? It’s not in the weekend service and it’s not even through small groups. We created the Meck Institute, a community-college approach to discipleship that offers classes, seminars, experiences and events designed wholly for spiritual growth and formation. They are offered on all days of the week at a variety of times, and we also have online classes.

So those are our eight strategic decisions. But here’s the secret sauce – the ingredient behind all of those decisions.

We really are on mission.

We really are turned outward. We really are after the unchurched. Really.

Our mission is one of the most important values that we hold as a church and one that shapes everything we do. What is killing the church today is having the mission focused on keeping Christians within the church happy, well fed, and growing. Discipleship is continually pitted against evangelism and championed as the endgame for the church.

The mission cannot be about us…

… it must be about those who have not crossed the line of faith.


 

Read more from James Emery White

 


Contact an Auxano Navigator to learn how strategy can serve your mission.

 

 

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Vision >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

James Emery White

James Emery White

James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC, and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. He is the founder of Serious Times and this blog was originally posted at his website www.churchandculture.org.

See more articles by >

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.

How to Build for Team Alignment, not Individual Achievement

Does your church have a vague or undefined strategy, and therefore your leaders are inventing their own?

Auxano Founder Will Mancini believes that over 90% of churches in North America are not functioning with strategic clarity. Many churches have some kind of expression for mission and values, but not for strategy. The absence of strategy, as Mancini defines it, is the number one cause of ineffectiveness in a healthy church.

This map, or strategy picture, is like a container that holds all church activities in one meaningful whole. Without this orientation, individuals within the organization will forget how each major component or ministry activity fits to advance the mission.

When you don’t have a strategy, or your strategy isn’t clear, a threefold problem can occur:

  • too many ministry or program options and no prioritization;
  • ministry options that have no relationship with one another;
  • ministries themselves have no connection to the mission.

Having a clear map – one that shows how you will get things done – is a strong indicator that the effectiveness of your mission will go through the roof. Strategic clarity can birth a quantum leap in your ministry.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Execution is the Strategy, by Laura Stack

In today’s world of rapid, disruptive change, strategy can’t be separate from execution—it has to emerge from execution. You must continually adjust your strategy to fit new realities. But, if your organization isn’t set up to be fast on its feet, you could easily go the way of Blockbuster or Borders.

Laura Stack shows you how to quickly drive strategic initiatives and get great results from your team. Her LEAD Formula outlines the Four Keys to Successful Execution:

  • The ability to Leverage your talent and resources
  • Design an Environment to support an agile culture
  • Create Alignment between strategic priorities and operational activities
  • Drive the organization forward quickly

She includes a leadership team assessment, group reading guides, and bonus self-development resources. Stack will equip you with the knowledge, skills, and inspiration to help you hit the ground running! 

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

If members of your team are working hard but have lost focus of the mission of your organization, you are facing a double threat: your overall mission is not being accomplished and your team members are likely heading toward burnout.

The most successful team members work together for more than a paycheck or for keeping busy. They are engaged in the mission, and feel that they are an important part of achieving that mission. They are serving with a sense and purpose of something that is greater.

On the other hand, team members who have lost focus on the mission of the organization may just be going though the motions of working together. When this occurs, the organization is entering a danger zone.

Even those who work the hardest will inevitably crash and burn in their productivity if they lose track of the mission. Help them reorient and align themselves if they’ve lost their focus on their mission with a 4-R Reconnection Strategy.

Reestablish awareness. Have team members evaluate their current positions by asking, “Which of my activities contribute most of my value to my organization.” If they can’t answer that, have them invest personal time in figuring out where they got off course and how they might fix it.

Realign them. Make sure the mission and their perception of it match up. If your team becomes misaligned, they may be wasting time on the wrong things. If that is the case, it doesn’t matter how hard they work to get the job done; their productivity will crash.

Repair their connection. Once your team members know where they are and where they should be, have them make any necessary course corrections. After that, help them tweak or overhaul their workflow process to get it back on track and in sync with the mission.

Rededicate them to the mission. Have the team members reaffirm their commitment to your organization. Help them understand how each contributes to the collective effort to move the organization forward.

Laura Stack, Execution IS the Strategy 

A NEXT STEP

Using the Four-R process above, realign your leadership team to the mission of the church.

First, write “Our Mission” on the top of a flip chart page and hand every person a sticky note. Without looking at phones, tablets, or printed materials, have each leader write the mission of the church from memory on a sticky note. Place all the notes on the flip chart page. Discuss the results, noting the degree (or lack of) shared knowledge of the church’s mission. (Remember Howard Hendricks’ ageless quote: if it’s a mist in the pulpit, it’s a fog in the pew.)

Now write the actual mission on another flip chart page, and with a renewed focus on the missional mandate of the church, have each leader write ministry activities that CONTRIBUTE DIRECTLY to the mission on one color sticky note and ministry activities that while good, DO NOT CONTRIBUTE DIRECTLY to the mission.

How can your leaders help each other to focus activity toward mission accomplishment? How can you learn from each other and lean toward God’s calling for the church? Record some specific initiatives and next steps on a third flip-chart page, assigning responsibility to a team member.


 

Excerpted from SUMS Remix 38-1, issued April 2016

 


 

This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

>> Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Execution >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

See more articles by >

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.

Health Doesn’t Just Happen: 2 Ways to Avoid Drift

Organizations and churches drift away from their identity and mission. Without constant care and godly leadership, drift pulls a church from her core message and mission. A church doesn’t drift into greater health or better focus.

We drift as individuals in the same manner. We don’t drift into physical fitness or spiritual growth. We drift away from those things, not toward them. D.A. Carson wrote, “People do not drift toward holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord.”

In terms of strategy and mission, there are two common and related drifts that plague churches.

1. Churches drift toward complexity.

As a church grows and matures, there is an inevitable pull to add layers of bureaucracy and to fill calendars with lots of events and programs. As a church drifts toward complexity, staff members become program managers instead of equippers. Communication becomes increasingly challenging because there is increasingly more to communicate. New people have a difficult time figuring out what is most important because there are so many things happening. Ministries, within the same church, compete for resources and energy. Complexity presents a plethora of problems.

Ironically, many pastors have told congregations, “If Satan cannot get you to walk away from God, he will tempt you to be busy.” Or, “Just because you are busy doing things for God does not mean you are walkingwith God.” So while lamenting the busyness of people and of the surrounding culture, many churches grow busier.

2. Churches drift off mission.

As a church increasingly drifts toward complexity, she also increasingly drifts off mission. If a church is complicated, she will not have the energy or the resources available to be highly engaged in mission. The church will spend her time existing for herself, setting up systems for herself, and communicating to herself. When you are complex, you tend to be inward. When there is so much to manage at the church building, there is so little time to think strategically about the community and minimal energy to serve those in the community.

Complexity isn’t always the beginning point. A drift off mission will result in complexity. When a mission and strategy are not clear, anything can be added to the church. When mission does not grab the collective soul of the church, something else will.

Mission drift never self-corrects. Leaders must constantly address the pull away from mission and the pull toward complexity. Here’s how:

Keep the mission central.

The core message of a church must be the gospel, the good news that Jesus saves sinners by giving us His righteousness in exchange for our sin. And the core mission of a church must be the mission He gave us: make disciples. Churches may express their mission in contextual terms, but the mission must be in constant view. Leaders must continually point people to the church’s mission and work to embed a passion for the mission into everything the church does.

Keep the strategy simple.

Strategy is how the mission is accomplished. A simple strategy fights against the inevitable drift toward complexity. When the strategy is simple, the most important environments that flow from the mission of making disciples are emphasized. An overcrowded calendar is abhorred because it would drown the strategy.

> Read more from Eric.


Learn more about strategy for your church; connect with an Auxano Navigator today.

Download PDF

Tags: , , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Execution >

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.

See more articles by >

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.

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. Because when you don’t have one, you at least know you don’t have one. For the person attempting to save for retirement, the illusion of a retirement plan is worse than not having one. Because when you think you have a plan but really don’t, you’ll get to a certain age before you discover you did not save sufficiently.

In the same way, the illusion of a ministry strategy is worse than not having one.

The illusion of a ministry strategy is like a mirage that gives people a false sense of hope about the direction of the ministry. It provides an erroneous belief that a wise course has been set. Not having a strategy and knowing it is far better than thinking you have one when you don’t. At least then you know the reality and are likely much more open to developing one.

A ministry strategy is how a church accomplishes her mission on the broadest level. The mission is the “what”; the strategy is the “how.” An overarching ministry strategy is how all the programs and ministries are designed to work together to help fulfill the mission of the church. Because I am often asked—two books I recommend on ministry strategy are Simple Church (yes, that is a shameless plug) and Church Unique by Will Mancini.

Based on consultations and conversations with church leaders, perhaps the most common illusions of ministry strategy are rearranging and photocopying:

1)    Rearranging

Here is a common occurrence: A church leadership wordsmiths a new vision/mission statement, puts the statement on a dry-erase board, and commits not to leave the room until “all our programs fit into this statement.” While they give the impression they are beginning with their strategy, they are really beginning with their programs. Thus, everything they already do is rearranged and categorized based on “the new vision.”

Merely taking all your existing programs, events, and activities and placing them under new language or baptizing them with new nomenclature gives the illusion of a strategy without necessarily thinking through how people will move throughout the life of your church. The illusion of the strategy helps the team call themselves strategic without developing the discipline and focus necessary to really possess a strategy that guides the church in a direction.

2)    Photocopying

Another common occurrence: A church leader visits a church or reads about one, loves a program they have implemented, their mission statement, or an initiative they are passionate about. He searches their website, learns everything he can about the program or initiative, and imports it into his church without thinking critically about his church culture or the strategy he has articulated to his people. Over time, the church becomes a discombobulated collection of photocopied programs. Each one looks strategic when it stands alone, giving the illusion of a strategy. But when all are meshed together in one local church body, the church can move in a plethora of directions, revealing the lack of an overarching discipleship process/strategy.

Both rearranging and photocopying are common practices because they are easy. All it takes is a white board and a few hours with some folks who have read a book. Developing ministry strategy is much more difficult – and much more impactful.

 Read more from Eric here.


Want to learn how to develop genuine ministry strategy? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Vision >

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.

See more articles by >

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.

3 Ingredients Necessary When Pursuing True Generosity at Your Church

Pastors continually share with me their desire for a generous culture, but very few know what it really is and are willing to do the work to experience it. They tend to default toward doing nothing (except complaining) or executing yet another quick fix, short-term remedy. I want you to know that true generosity is absolutely possible if you pursue these three ingredients at the same time and do not quit.

1. Possess such a powerfully clear vision that you know what not to do as confidently as you know what to do. Vision is not a generic mantra on your wall, but a clear path plainly seen by all. It should naturally propel you forward, hold you accountable, and engage the masses.

2. Align your strategy to be very simple, yet radically focused on this vision. This means your resources will be invested more than they are expended. Doing a few things very well in a repeatable process has seriously positive ramifications.

3. Chase discipleship and not money. Generosity is the fruit of a growing Christ-follower. Money can come fast enough with a well-articulated appeal or when a powerful fear is exposed. However, it stops when the circumstance changes. Generosity never stops.

I promise generosity is possible for your church, but you have to want it. I mean really want it – enough to invest your entire staff. Enough to be willing to reframe your vision, realign your strategy, and to develop a solid discipleship path beyond just getting more people in groups. There is so much freedom and possibility on the other side of generosity.

> Read more from Todd.

Download PDF

Tags: , , , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Resourcing >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Todd McMichen

Todd McMichen has served for over 30 years in a variety of roles in the local church, doing everything from planting churches to lead pastor. While on staff he conducted two major capital campaigns helping to guide his local churches through sizable relocation projects. Those two churches alone raised over $35,000,000. Since 2000, Todd has been a well-established stewardship and generosity campaign coach, as well as a conference leader and speaker. Todd is a graduate of Palm Beach Atlantic College in West Palm Beach, FL and Southwestern Seminary in Ft. Worth, TX. He lives in Birmingham, AL with his wife Theresa, and their two kids, Riley and Breanna. You can contact Todd at todd@auxano.com or 205-223-7803.

See more articles by >

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.

Your Strategic Challenge is Really a Lack of Clarity

For many managers, the word strategy conjures up thoughts of gigantic PowerPoint decks, binders collecting dust and general confusion. A survey by Roger Martin of the Rotman School of Management found that 67 percent of managers believe their organization is bad at developing strategy.

At the heart of most strategy challenges is a lack of clarity as to what strategy is and how it differs from some of the other key business planning terms.

Harvard Business School professor David Collis is even more direct: “It’s a dirty little secret: Most executives cannot articulate the objective, scope, and advantage of their business in a simple statement. If they can’t, neither can anyone else.” Martin’s research supports this point: 43 percent of managers cannot state their own strategy.

What seems to be the cause of this lack of performance when it comes to strategy?

To more effectively develop and execute strategy, it stands to reason that we need to better understand it. In order to better understand it, we need to be skilled at thinking about it.

Not only does a leader need to be able to generate fresh strategic insights on a regular basis, he or she needs to be able to harness insights from their employees’ best thinking as well by facilitating strategy conversations. The ability to then package their strategic thinking and communicate strategy in a simple, persuasive, and concise manner is just as critical.

>> To learn more about strategy challenges for leaders, download Strategic Thinking by Rich Horwath, CEO of the Strategic Thinking Institute.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Vision >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rich Horwath

Rich Horwath is the CEO of the Strategic Thinking Institute where he has helped more than 50,000 managers around the world develop their strategic thinking skills. Rich is the author of the new book, Elevate: The Three Disciplines of Advanced Strategic Thinking (Wiley, 2014). He is a New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling author on strategy and his work has appeared on CNBC, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX.

See more articles by >

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.

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.

If this is true in the business world, it is really true in churches.

Martin goes on to say,

I really wonder what makes them think so. Life is and always has been uncertain. If we live in an uncertain, fast-moving, turbulent world today, why would it be any different a week, a month or a year from now? If the world is too uncertain to choose today, what is it about the future than will make things more certain? At some point, do we simply declare the world to be certain enough to make strategy choices? How will we know it is the day? What criteria will we use to decide the requisite level of certainty has been reached? Or will we simply put off choosing forever, because certainty is utterly unachievable at any stage?

In truth every organization has a strategy. Whether it ‘does strategy’ explicitly or not, the choices that it makes on a daily basis result in the company operating on some part of the playing field (i.e. making a where-to-play choice) and competing there in some fashion (i.e. making a how-to-win choice). It matters not a whit whether the industry is highly uncertain, every company competing in it has a strategy.

Without making an effort to ‘do strategy,’ though, an organization runs the risk of its numerous daily choices having no coherence to them, of being contradictory across divisions and levels, and of amounting to very little of meaning. It doesn’t have to be so. But it continues to be so because these leaders don’t believe there is a better way.

At Auxano, our Navigators encounter the same line of thinking in their weekly conversations with church leaders across the country. To help meet this challenge, we are happy to introduce the StratOps process.

Simply put, the Paterson StratOp Process is a custom-tailored MasterPlan that develops and redefines an organization’s complete strategy by traversing the typical silo-thinking culture to unlock key moments of clarity and then putting those discoveries to action. It is a facilitated/guided process that creates an environment of breakthrough thinking for leaders, their leadership teams, and other key contributors in their organizations.

The words combined to formulate the term “StratOp” are used with striking purpose. Strategy  is “the art of planning for tomorrow, today.” Operations is “the discipline of taking care of today, today.” The StratOp process takes into account both organizational and real world realities. It is the balance of managing today’s realities in light of tomorrow’s opportunities that gives the StratOp its true power. A silent third partner in the definition of StratOp is the word Financial. Both the strategic and operational must be financed.

What distinguishes the StratOp process from other strategic planning methods is that it is a behaviorally-sound process enabling leaders to manage their ministry as a whole, not as a collection of parts, vital in today’s religious environment. Each step of the StratOp process logically and systematically builds on the previous and blends together the strategic, operational, and the financial through a compelling vision of the future. The result is a breakthrough of thinking, alignment and focus. Through a “managing the whole” approach, new potential is released with astonishing results.

Results that can be implemented today, not at some uncertain date in the future.

Find out more about the Auxano StratOps process here.

Download PDF

Tags: , , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Vision >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Oree McKenzie — 12/23/13 5:57 am

Noteworthy article and an even more intriguing concept.

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.

Planning, Strategy, and the Eisenhower Matrix

Dwight Eisenhower is noted as saying, “What is important is seldom urgent, and what is urgent is seldom important.” He is credited with the quote because of his emphasis on planning and strategy. From this quote, the Eisenhower matrix was born, which Stephen Covey later popularized. Here is my sketch of it:

EisenhowerMatrix

The matrix has four quadrants:

  1. Urgent, Important: These are things that must be handled now and include ongoing execution, important conversations, and necessary interruptions. We will spend much of our lives in this quadrant, as these are things we must do, things we are honored to do.
  2. Important, Not Urgent: This is where leaders do their strategic planning and most thoughtful and creative work. Wise leaders carve out time and energy to invest in this type of work. They plan for this time so they may plan for the future, prepare, and work closely with teams.
  3. Not Important, Not Urgent: These are unnecessary distractions that provide little or no value. Wise leaders constantly look to stop doing these things.
  4. Urgent, Not Important: These are urgent tasks that come up but can be handled by someone else or should be handled by someone else because another is more qualified or ultimately responsible for the urgent matter. In other words, it should not be of deep importance to you. These items should be delegated or outsourced.

As I have led and watched others lead, here are three thoughts for leaders:

Take time to plan work, not just do work.

Instead of thinking strategically, many leaders run chaotically in a plethora of directions. The result of not investing ample time in Quadrant I is chaos, wasted energy, and mindless execution. If you never spend time in Quadrant I, you are unable to process and learn from all the activity, and you lack the ability to plan for the future.

The unnecessary robs energy from the important.

It is really Quadrant III that steals the important energy from leaders, energy that is needed for Quadrant I and Quadrant II. As Peter Drucker stated, “There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.” Leaders who don’t take time to evaluate what shouldn’t be done in the first place continue to waste time and energy on the unimportant.

The urgent and important can overwhelm.

Many leaders carry resentment and fatigue for the activities that fall into Quadrant II—the urgent and important that constantly comes up. But Quadrant II is significant, and much of the impact we make happens in this quadrant. In Quadrant II are unplanned conversations with people who need our counsel, unplanned crises that need our leadership, and important tasks that get the work done. So that the important and urgent don’t crush us, leaders must appropriate energy from Quadrant III and Quadrant IV.

> Read more from Eric here.

Download PDF

Tags: , , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Leadership >

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.

See more articles by >

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.

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

CU-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. I am grateful for five gentleman who have been a part of my own access and “digestion” of StratOp as a certified facilitator : Doug Slaybough (pictured above & former guy beyond the success of Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven organization), Michael Murphy (current president of the Paterson Center), Greg Hawkins (executive pastor of Willow Creek Community Church), Buck Rogers (friend and master facilitator) and Todd Wilson (kingdom entrepreneur behind Exponential and a fellow clarity junkie).

Most recently, I have completed the integration work of utilizing Paterson’s StratOp process for churches as a follow-up to Vision Pathway process that I have developed and used for twelve years, through the ministry of Auxano.

Why?

Simply put, The Vision Pathway and StratOp are the two best ways to solve two different but related problems for the local church leaders.

In this post I want to explore the basic differences. In the rest of a series I want to show:

  • Part 2: The REAL Chemistry of Vision Pathway and StratOps
  • Part 3: Why StratOps is a Waste of Time if You Don’t Have a Vision Frame
  • Part 4: Why Every Church over 400 in Attendance Should Use StratOps 

VISION PATHWAY AS A UNIQUE SOLUTION

The Vision Pathway  was created to solve the problem of cut-n-paste ministry models and photocopied vision proliferated by books and conference in the church space. The result is a lack of freedom, confidence, passion, credibility and ultimately progress for a local church leadership team.

The Vision Pathway was developed in 2001-2004 from a biblical  understanding of the church in order to develop new competencies in thinking, leadership and communication for local church teams. The deliverable of the process is a fully articulated vision and ministry model that takes into account a church’s heritage, the unique community context, the distinctive congregational strengths and Spirit-guided passion of the leadership. The process was formally articulated in the book, Church Unique in 2008 with the subtitle of “How Missional Leaders Cast Vision, Capture Culture and Create Movement.” Church Unique continues to be the leading book in the church vision and planning category since it’s publication.

The baseline Vision Pathway requires a minimum of 6 days of collaborative work over a several month period. The Pathway is built with 5 master tools, that cover 8 big ideas, with 10 specific deliverables with dozens of “add-on” features and optional sub-tools based on church’s theological bent, size, life-stage, growth challenges and culture. There really is no other comparable process for church leaders to experience.

STRAT-OP AS A UNIQUE SOLUTION

StratOp was created to solve the problem of lengthy strategic planning process that don’t get total buy in across the executive team of large businesses.  The result is a lack of daily cooperation and coordination of diverse functional units towards the strategy priorities of the business.

StratOp was birthed through a challenge in 1980 issued to Tom Paterson to reduce the timeframe and increase the effectiveness of formal strategic planning. The design parameter was three days, which was given to Paterson by Thomas E. Bennett, who was the the Vice President for Corporate Planning for Ingersol-Rand Company. The content of the process is available only through the Paterson Center to certified consultants and facilitators. (Approximately 180 have gone through the process in the last 15 years.)

The StratOp process is a 3-day event (with a typical 2-day follow-up process with key individual leaders).  It works through 25 “tools” that are collaborative conversations ranging from 30 minutes to 2 hours. The deliverable is a set of dashboard-like documents that can be used in the operational flow of leadership and management. While there are many planning processes out there, I have not seen one better for creating priorities within a one-year horizon. In addition several Paterson disciples are Jesus-followers who have applied what was originally designed for business, to the local church.

Read more from Will Mancini on his blog: WillMancini.com


Are you ready for a new level of team focus, energy, and productivity? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

 

Download PDF

Tags: , , , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Vision >

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.

See more articles by >

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.

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.

All too often, we find a threefold problem for churches that have no strategy:

  1. Churches have too many ministry or program options.
  2. The ministry options have no relationship with one another.
  3. The ministries themselves have no connection to the mission – in fact, never the two shall meet!

Is your church one of those that is lacking strategy?

Recently, I read an article on HBR.org that spoke to this situation. The authors give 4 great steps that are applicable as leaders prepare to create a strategy for their church:

No great strategy is born without careful thought. That’s why the process of planning a strategy itself is an important vehicle for setting priorities, making investment decisions, and laying out growth plans. But for many organizations, the activity has devolved into either an overexplained budget or very little meaningful substance that can be translated into action. As a result, many strategic plans end up as shelf decorations or hard-to-find files in crowded hard drives.

Since this is the season when many organizations are engaged in strategic planning, it’s just the right time to break bad habits. Here are four steps that you can take to make better use of the hard work that goes into planning a strategy:

  • Insist on experiments to test the assumptions you’ve made
  • Banish fuzzy language
  • Escape from template tyranny
  • Ask provocative questions

You can read the complete article here.

The strategy development planning process is an important part of most organizations’ operating rhythm. Your leadership challenge, however, is to make sure that it’s more than just a group exercise.

There is real beauty in clarifying, focusing, and strengthening the ministries as defined by your strategy; the people who are growing in the process will take other people along with them.

Growing people grow people. Consuming people consume programs.

>>Without stating and integrating a simple strategy, your church will remain stuck in a bottleneck of the status quo.

>>With a strategy, your church can develop its unique approach to growing disciples.

Download PDF

Tags: ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Vision >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

See more articles by >

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.