Keys to Compelling Vision Communication

How compelling is the communication of your vision?

If your vision moves the people to take action, you are on the right track.

Having served alongside two incredible visionary leaders, first John Maxwell and now Kevin Myers, I’ve watched close up how they communicate vision so well.

We often think that vision-casting is largely a public endeavor and usually done on the primary stage. But the truth is, most vision-casting is done behind the scenes, over and over again, one to one and in small groups. Communicating vision is the never-ending responsibility of the primary leader.

Before you can cast your vision, you have to create it. It needs to be crystal clear and deep in your heart. That is something between you and God and also affirmed by your church board and/or key leaders. It takes time and prayer, and requires you hearing from God. Let God breathe the vision in you.

It is surprisingly often that senior pastors, and executive staff, tell me they are not clear on their vision. If you are one of those, don’t panic. While you are waiting on clarity from God and confidence in your own mind, stay focused on Matthew 28:19-20. That universal mission for the church is your vision until you have clarity. Vision is “simply” your personal and unique version of the Great Commission. It’s the expression that God gives you for your church that brings fire, flavor and fuel to the mission. Vision keeps the mission fresh.

Seven guidelines to help you communicate your vision better:

1) Commit to the vision yourself.

If you are the leader, settle the level of your conviction first.

  • No one cares more than you.
  • No one carries a great burden.
  • No one prays more deeply.
  • No one thinks and plans more.
  • No one lies awake at night more than you.

Sometimes God doesn’t make the vision clear because the leader isn’t ready personally. Settle the issue in your own heart. It’s not as if you have to pass a test before God or measure up in order to deserve a vision. It’s more about your passion and commitment to be ready to lead the vision.

2) Clearly identify the current situation.

When casting vision, we as leaders need to start by making the present reality clear. This doesn’t mean to paint an unfairly negative scenario in order to “sell” the vision. But comparison is needed so the congregation understands the why behind the vision.

Sometimes it’s more obvious and therefore easier; such as you are out of room so you cast vision to start a second or third service. Other times, it may seem more subjective like changing the name of your church. You have to make it clear why the current name is no longer meeting the need.

3) Paint a picture of a preferred future.

A great vision always describes a better future. Keeping the core mission in mind (changed lives), the vision must always include at the core, reaching people and changing lives. Again, the vision is your unique expression of that mission.

So, how will your church be better? How will your church improve (or change) in a way so that it serves people better and others want to attend? How will the Kingdom of God be advanced?

4) Capture the hearts of the people.

If the vision comes from your heart, it will reach the hearts of the people you share it with. Some vision statements are mechanical efforts that come as a result of an academic endeavor and end up on your website. They rarely move anyone because they don’t move you.  Vision statements that sound great, perhaps even alliterate, are good as long as they are real, true and personal to you.

When you share vision, tell stories. Make it personal. Remain brief. Make it memorable. Tell it often, and again tell stories. Remind people why it’s so important, and why it matters.

5) Deliver clear direction with a realistic plan.

This is where the rubber meets the road, and where some leaders lose traction with their vision. They hear from God, the vision is clear, and the people have bought in, but there is no realistic road map of how to get there.

You don’t have to provide all the answers, but a clear and simple plan that provides direction is necessary. You will need to make course corrections, solve problems and deal with the unexpected, but as long as the people know the next step you are good!

6) Tell the people they are needed and how they can participate.

All good vision casting includes letting the people know how they can get involved.

When you get your congregation all fired up but don’t give them an outlet to take action, it’s a mistake. Think through the options, such as prayer, serving, inviting, giving, etc. Whatever it may be, let them know how they can be part. When an individual takes action on the vision, the vision becomes part of them and they share it with others.

7) Keep your communication current.

Communicating vision is not a “once and done” proposition. In fact, it’s the opposite, the communication must continue. You can’t over communicate vision. You can make it too long, or boring because it’s always said the same way, or unprepared so it lacks connection. But when it’s brief, sincere, creative and well prepared, it’s difficult to do it too often. One of the best ways is to include a thirty to sixty second vision moment in a sermon, tell a story and keep going. And in one to one meetings, make it part of regular conversations.


Finally, celebrate the victories! The people are working hard, praying and full of hope. Celebrate the success God gives you along the way!


Want to learn more about compelling vision communication? Connect with an Auxano Navigator.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dan Reiland

Dan Reiland

Dr. Dan Reiland serves as Executive Pastor at 12Stone Church in Lawrenceville, Georgia. He previously partnered with John Maxwell for 20 years, first as Executive Pastor at Skyline Wesleyan Church in San Diego, then as Vice President of Leadership and Church Development at INJOY. He and Dr. Maxwell still enjoy partnering on a number of church related projects together. Dan is best known as a leader with a pastor's heart, but is often described as one of the nations most innovative church thinkers. His passion is developing leaders for the local church so that the Great Commission is advanced.

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Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 
Great work!!!!
 
— Kate Harel
 
After 47 years of ministry experience, I found this easy to agree with, and very hard to live by. All sorts of pressure applied. Eric Gieger's "Simple Church" was a big help!
 
— Jon Breshears
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Casting Vision: The Only Communication Principle You Need to Know

Communicating in a way that captures attention and inspires action is an art. And there’s one communication principle that effective communicators understand when it comes to conveying their thoughts effectively.

Because communication can be messy. It can be complicated. And in many ways, it can’t be controlled as no one can completely anticipate how another person will hear, interpret, and respond to what you say.

Perception is reality, after all.

And communication becomes even more complex within organizations like churches. Pastors or senior leadership may be inclined to jump straight to the ‘what’ after defining the ‘why’ when casting their vision without really taking the time to strategically think through the ‘how.’

The ‘how’ is just as important – if not more – than the ‘what.’ And the effectiveness of your communication as a leader is directly related to your effectiveness in communicating your vision’s ‘how.’

Learning to communicate your vision’s ‘how’ can be difficult because people listen and learn differently, and this is where a lot of leaders struggle. They’ll communicate the same way with their staff as they do their congregation or even their family – but the way you communicate with some audiences doesn’t work with others.

There are two ways to ensure that your ‘how’ connects with each of your audiences:

  1. Diversify your ‘how.’ Because people listen and learn differently, create multiple channels to communicate your message. Diversify your methods to determine which ones work best for each audience. There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to casting the ‘how’ of your vision.
  2. Keep it simple. You may understand your point because you’ve thought it through for a while. But it may not be that obvious to others. Break down the details to help people understand your message as clearly as you do.

By diversifying the way you communicate and keeping your message simple, you’ll be able to focus on your ‘how’ – and then the vision you communicate will start to make a difference in those who hear it.


Learn more about casting vision; connect with an Auxano Navigator today.


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Church Community Builder

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Recent Comments
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 
Great work!!!!
 
— Kate Harel
 
After 47 years of ministry experience, I found this easy to agree with, and very hard to live by. All sorts of pressure applied. Eric Gieger's "Simple Church" was a big help!
 
— Jon Breshears
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Six Responses to Mission Resistance

Every great movement of God invites a challenge from sinful people. I wrote about this recently in a post entitled How to Stop a Church from Growing, and Pastor Titus S. Olorunnisola, who is planting Bethel Gospel Centre near Melbourne, Australia, asked the magic question in the comments – how, then, do we handle the legalists?

In the case of the early Jerusalem church, the problem was complex. Non-Jewish people all over the region were coming to know Christ, but some very legalistic Jews known as the Judaizers were demanding that all of these new believers go through the rite of circumcision and keep the ceremonial law in order to be both Jewish and Christian.

Paul, Peter, James, and others were of the viewpoint that salvation for these newcomers was by grace alone through faith alone, but the vocal minority raised enough of an issue that the elders had to gather for a closed discussion. They finally emerged from this first church council with some wisdom for churches everywhere.

Their decision was rendered as follows:

“And so my judgment is that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead, we should write and tell them to abstain from eating food offered to idols, from sexual immorality, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from consuming blood. For these laws of Moses have been preached in Jewish synagogues in every city on every Sabbath for many generations.” Then the apostles and elders together with the whole church in Jerusalem chose delegates, and they sent them to Antioch of Syria with Paul and Barnabas to report on this decision. (Acts 15:19-22 NLT)

As I walk through this passage, I think there is some key wisdom to be applied all these centuries later in a more modern context.

We are charged to defend not only the faith of the gospel, but also its fruit. That is, we must uphold the content of the gospel as well as protect its ability to reach new people. To claim to hold to an orthodox view of Scripture while allowing non-scriptural viewpoints to be interposed in our doctrine, resulting in the alienation of those who need Jesus most, isn’t faithfulness to the gospel.

Let me put it more practically. Our role as pastors is to protect the flock from wolves and from false teachers. But it’s also to remind our flock that there are sheep who haven’t joined the fold yet and we must do everything in our power to take the gospel to every last one of them.

There are battles that aren’t worth fighting. When it comes to our preferences over style and approach, we are called to make allowance for differences of opinion.

And then there are battles that absolutely are worth fighting. In fact, there are battles worth risking everything over. The vision, the mission, and the purposes of God for his people are worth being stubborn about. The cause of evangelism and the pathway to discipleship are well worth working for and defending from error.

But how? How do we handle the Judaizers and joysuckers and complainers who would rather keep their preferred religious systems to the detriment of evangelism? I think we handle people the way the early apostles did.

  1. Get godly counsel. The elders consult with one another. James probably could have handled it himself, but he chose to invite input from other godly leaders.
  2. Be bold in your calling. The elders stand with confidence, believing God had called them to lead through this particular moment with clarity and conviction.
  3. Stand with and for the lost. They made it clear that we should not make it any more difficult than it already naturally was for non-Jewish people to come to know Jesus.
  4. Show them what grace is like. Nobody got kicked out. Everyone was still welcome and the apostles set an example of grace for everyone to observe.
  5. Fight against anything that competes with discipleship. They kept the pathway clear and asked people to make voluntary sacrifices for the benefit of others.
  6. Point to Jesus. The pointed people back to the gospel – the good news that Jesus Christ alone saves by grace alone through faith alone.

So, when confronting legalists and traditionalists who would ultimately stand in the way of lost people coming into God’s family to protect their own preferences, always choose to stand on the side of the Great Commission and Great Commandment.

I often pray for God to give me the boldness of a lion. Granted, sometimes I choose to have the boldness of an angry chinchilla, but I’m a work in progress. I’m still learning to love everyone – even the legalists and traditionalists – while being mean about the vision.


Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about dealing with resistance to your vision and mission.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brandon Cox

Brandon Cox has been a Pastor for fifteen years and is currently planting a church in northwest Arkansas, a Saddleback-sponsored church. He also serves as Editor of Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastors' Toolbox, and authors a top 100 blog for church leaders (brandonacox.com). He's also the author of Rewired: Using Technology to Share God's Love.

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Recent Comments
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 
Great work!!!!
 
— Kate Harel
 
After 47 years of ministry experience, I found this easy to agree with, and very hard to live by. All sorts of pressure applied. Eric Gieger's "Simple Church" was a big help!
 
— Jon Breshears
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Vision Should Be Consistently Clear and Clearly Consistent

Do you have problems seeing yourself as a visionary communicator and instead prioritize the maintenance of week-to-week ministry?

Are you finding yourself on a ministry treadmill, where the busyness of ministry creates a progressively irreversible hurriedness in your life? Today’s demands can choke out needed dialogue for tomorrow. When this occurs, your multiplied activity prevents you from living with a clearer vision of what should be.

If you find yourself in this situation, it’s time to call a timeout and evaluate the obstacles that keep you from focusing on visionary communication about God’s preferred future for your church.

Solution – Vision should be consistently clear and clearly consistent.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Advantage, by Patrick Lencioni

There is a competitive advantage out there, arguably more powerful than any other. Is it superior strategy? Faster innovation? Smarter employees? No, New York Times best-selling author, Patrick Lencioni, argues that the seminal difference between successful companies and mediocre ones has little to do with what they know and how smart they are and more to do with how healthy they are.

In this book, Lencioni brings together his vast experience and many of the themes cultivated in his other best-selling books and delivers a first: a cohesive and comprehensive exploration of the unique advantage organizational health provides.

Simply put, an organization is healthy when it is whole, consistent, and complete, when its management, operations, and culture are unified. Healthy organizations outperform their counterparts, are free of politics and confusion, and provide an environment where star performers never want to leave.

Lencioni s first non-fiction book provides leaders with a groundbreaking, approachable model for achieving organizational health complete with stories, tips, and anecdotes from his experiences consulting to some of the nation’s leading organizations. In this age of informational ubiquity and nano-second change, it is no longer enough to build a competitive advantage based on intelligence alone. The Advantage provides a foundational construct for conducting business in a new way, one that maximizes human potential and aligns the organization around a common set of principles.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

How do you as a leader communicate information to your teams? Are you regularly reminding your team of your organization’s mission, values, and strategies? Do these missions, values, and strategies drive the resulting work of your teams? Do your individual team leaders understand and apply these concepts well enough with their own teams to respond to any individual concerns?

The problem is that leaders confuse the mere transfer of information to an audience with the audience’s ability to understand, internalize, and embrace the message that is being communicated.

The only way for people to embrace a message is to hear it over a period of time, in a variety of different ways, and preferably from different people. That’s why great leaders see themselves as Chief Reminding Officers as much as anything else. Their two top priorities are to set the direction of the organization and then to ensure that people are reminded of it on a regular basis.

The reason most organizations fail to communicate to team members is not that they don’t know how to build an intranet site or write a blog or design a PowerPoint/Keynote presentation, but that they don’t achieve clarity around key messages and stick with them. The world is full of organizations where team members feel uninformed and in the dark even though they have access to more glossy newsletters, interactive Web sites, and overly produced team meetings than they need or want. What they don’t get is consistent, authentic, and relevant communication.

Patrick Lencioni, The Advantage

A NEXT STEP

In order for you to communicate with clarity, understand these four keys:

#1 Successful leadership requires more clarity work not less. The more you lead and the more God blesses your leadership, the more liable you are of losing clarity. Because success assaults clarity, you must never stop fighting the good fight. Engage your own clarity journey with courage and keep reading everything you can on the subject.

#2 Many leaders are in desperate need of a clarity system. With so many ways of looking at goals and planning, it is critically important to find an approach and process that works for you. Church leaders across the country have found success in the Vision Frame.

#3 Every approach to clarity should start with a “plane ride.” While all of the answers to your life’s clarity questions are organically related, they are also hierarchically structured. Clarity at every level must start with clarity at the top level – the 30,000-foot view from the plane. There are many ways of capturing this idea: synthesis before analysis, strategic precedes tactic, etc. To illustrate, a sense of overall direction must precede determining this year’s priorities, which must precede daily task creation. While everyone may intellectually know this, few practice it. Stop and develop a big-picture goal for the year, thinking in both qualitative (emotional) and quantitative (measurable) ways. Example: By the end of next year, 20% more people will be “elbow deep” in each other’s lives in small groups.

#4 Most leaders have not spent enough time in the plane for themselves or the organizations they lead. As a result, all of the lower level questions (goals, priorities, plans, roles, structure, systems, daily tasks, etc.) are, at best, more difficult to answer. At worst, the answers are shaped by the misdirected forces of pet agendas, feelings, and status quo protection and turf wars. Leaders consistently move toward tactics and execution without clarity first. Clarity isn’t everything but it changes everything.

So how do you know whether you have spent enough time in the plane? The clarity system we use at Auxano makes it easy to know. Basically you answer five “plane ride” questions in a clear, concise, and compelling way before moving on, and therefore “framing” all other planning work. You can download a visual summary of the Vision Frame as the Five Irreducible Questions of Leadership here.


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 <<

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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.

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Recent Comments
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 
Great work!!!!
 
— Kate Harel
 
After 47 years of ministry experience, I found this easy to agree with, and very hard to live by. All sorts of pressure applied. Eric Gieger's "Simple Church" was a big help!
 
— Jon Breshears
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

180 Seconds of Vision

Dear Pastors, Campus Pastors and/or whomever is on the rotation this Sunday…

Please do not just stand up on the platform for 3 minutes and “make announcements.”

We already know the announcements.

They were on the screens before the service.

They were the bulletin we read during the sermon.

They were definitely handed to me on the card by those well-meaning, but intense, women in matching t-shirts when we came in the door.

They were the same announcements about this time last year.

Instead, show me how these activities fulfill our mission as a church.

Connect my spiritual growth to this sign-up, and if you cannot, why are we doing it? 

Create a conversation and inspire me to learn more than dates, deadlines and catch phrases. Because I do.

Thanks for taking a few extra minutes of prep time to paint the bigger picture for us.

180 seconds of vision beats 3 minutes of announcements every Sunday.


Want to learn more about how your communication can paint the bigger picture for your congregation? Connect with an Auxano Navigator.


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryan Rose

As Lead Navigator for Auxano, Bryan Rose has a strong bias toward merging strategy and creativity within the vision of the local church and has had a diversity of experience in just about every ministry discipline over the last 12 years. With his experience as a multi-site strategist and campus pastor at a 3500 member multi-campus church in the Houston Metro area, Bryan has a passion to see “launch clarity” define the unique Great Commission call of developing church plants and campus, while at the same time serving established churches as they seek to clarify their individual ministry calling. Bryan has demonstrated achievement as a strategic thinker with a unique ability to infuse creativity into the visioning process while bringing a group of people to a deep sense of personal ownership and passion.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 
Great work!!!!
 
— Kate Harel
 
After 47 years of ministry experience, I found this easy to agree with, and very hard to live by. All sorts of pressure applied. Eric Gieger's "Simple Church" was a big help!
 
— Jon Breshears
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Crafting Your Cast: From Mission to Vision

POP QUIZ: In a sentence or two, can you say what God is calling you to do – or at least the direction He has for you?

If you answered ‘YES!,’ then congratulations! You have your vision. And you can skip ahead to the neat little listicle below about how to effectively cast your vision.

If you answered, ‘No. I don’t think so. But maybe? I’m not sure,’ then congratulations! You now have the opportunity to take your nebulous idea from infancy to a full-grown vision.

Your vision should take the purpose and mission of your church and reduce it down to a simple statement that guides your church. Much like an ‘elevator pitch’ in business – wherein you spark interest in what your organization does with a brief, persuasive speech in 20 seconds or less – your words act as an all-encompassing phrase that galvanizes and motivates your people in the right direction for your church.

And the right direction for your church – and the right vision – cannot be written from your will, but only from God’s because remember this as you cast your vision: Leadership is a privilege; steward it well. Yours is a privilege that can take people to where you believe God wants to go.

So as you cast, make sure your vision is …

Simple: Be clear about your vision. Over time, you’ll learn how to communicate the vision clearly and when the vision is clear to you, you are able to clearly communicate it to others.

Solid: Make sure your vision is real and tangible; it is a vision that people can touch, see and become invested in personally.

Succinct: We live in a ‘push-button-get-banana’ world. The same is true when we cast a vision. So keep it brief – because it’s not about how much you share, but that you share enough for it to be clear.

Stimulating: Your vision should inspire action. It should also cultivate a sense of ownership. If your vision can capture hearts, people will feel compelled to help you realize your vision.

If your vision is simple enough to understand, solid enough to believe, succinct enough to remember, and stimulating enough to inspire a shared ownership, your vision is ready to rally your people to a better future.


Learn more about Auxano’s Vision Pathway process.


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Church Community Builder

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Recent Comments
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 
Great work!!!!
 
— Kate Harel
 
After 47 years of ministry experience, I found this easy to agree with, and very hard to live by. All sorts of pressure applied. Eric Gieger's "Simple Church" was a big help!
 
— Jon Breshears
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How Vision, Alignment, and Generosity Became One Church’s Future

About two years ago we received contact from Church at The Mall in Lakeland, FL. They had just launched an initiative with seven missional components. These action items were big, really big. The intent was to propel an already active church with a miraculous story into a bold new future. Of course, these seven missional objectives needed to be funded. Naturally, a three-year capital campaign would be the solution. HOLD ON! What if vision, alignment, and generosity could be the solution for their new future?

Here are the seven missional objectives, our approach, and some of the results we’ve seen less than two years into the work.

Missional Objectives:

  1. Raise $1million each year for missional causes while reducing church debt
  2. Maximize their outreach and efforts
  3. Advance and expand their media ministry
  4. Needs assessment for staff, space, finances, and times
  5. Launch a multi-site campus approach
  6. Develop a Center for Discipleship and Education
  7. Develop methodical and comprehensive life stage discipleship from cradle to college

Approach:

  1. Create two one-day offerings immediately to take a huge leap forward with debt reduction and missions giving. Palm Sunday was utilized to catalyze those who were passionate about debt reduction. The entire offering that Sunday was deposited toward their debt. Then on Easter Sunday, Church at the Mall built bridge relationships with multiple non-profits in the community that aligned with the church vision. The entire offering was given away to impact the city. It was a bold step on many fronts. The staff and church leaders needed to decide how committed they were to the missional objectives. What would happen if they gave two complete offerings away at the beginning of the year? How would that impact ministry, even their jobs? Their unified faith would be more than rewarded.
  1. Clarify their Vision, create culture, and discipleship Measures. TheVision Framing process of Auxano was utilized to create the organizational engine and culture needed to accomplish the seven missional objectives. A repeated priority on prayer, fasting, and the anointed life would provide the fuel. This focus led to a clear articulation of a three-pronged Strategy. The Strategy would align ministries to work best together delivering the results of their Vision. This would require big conversations related to aligning programming, staff, calendar, facility, and resources. Good activity would not compete with visionary accomplishment.
  1. Develop a Generous Culture. When Vision is clear, resources are aligned, and results are measurable, it releases people. They knew where the church was headed, how they could grow, where they could live a big life, and confidence that their generosity was making a difference beyond themselves. We identified the different types of givers in their church from those who gave nothing to those living generously beyond a tithe. Each person was able to identify with a giving hero in the Bible that was relatable to their stage of life and financial situation. Curriculum was developed. A year-long growth path was revealed. Every person and family could find their way to grow a generous life for the sake of long term kingdom investment.

Results:

  • Total church indebtedness was reduced by 26% or $1,056,799.
  • Total church missions giving increased by 35% or $216,953.
  • Yearly undesignated giving increased 6% and this is not counting the special offerings taken on two consecutive Sundays.
  • General offerings increased by 12% prior to summer months, and this is not including the special offerings received.
  • Average gift per family increased 21% year to date. (Measured the first several months of three consecutive years)
  • Families or individuals giving digitally increased 19%.
  • The church was given a church facility in a neighboring town worth $1,700,000. A new campus was launched with hundreds in attendance.
  • Media is being maximized via new brand development, website, and app.
  • Discipleship Measures were created for all ages along with custom written curriculum.
  • Outreach is on a path to being maximized via new outreach Bible studies, online services, and a new television program.

Not too bad for less than two years of focused activity. Dream big, get focused, pray boldly, and enjoy the clarity.


To learn how this process could help your church, connect with an Auxano Navigator today.


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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.

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COMMENTS

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Recent Comments
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 
Great work!!!!
 
— Kate Harel
 
After 47 years of ministry experience, I found this easy to agree with, and very hard to live by. All sorts of pressure applied. Eric Gieger's "Simple Church" was a big help!
 
— Jon Breshears
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How 30 Seconds Can Change the World

There are often crucial moments when we have an opportunity to be vision-casters with people, one-on-one. It may be a car ride making a visit, coffee with a fellow member, or a staff meeting with five extra minutes at the end. It begs the question, could I state my vision for my church if I only had a few floors to travel in an elevator with someone?

You see, vision is great, but it needs to be transferrable. Members of a church should be able to share their church’s vision with their friends, relatives, associates, and neighbors, but they can only share a vision that has been concisely articulated from their leadership. And a vision isn’t “reaching people” or “glorifying God.” Those are eternal purposes, universal to every church. A vision (in an elevator speech format) would be more like…

We’re going to be a church that wraps our arms around the broken with an abundance of both truth and grace. We’ll have a multiplying network of small groups where people can really bear each other’s burdens. And we’ll gather in the middle of the marketplace for passionate worship and relevant teaching each week. The community will be better because we’re here – marriages will be fixed, education will improve, and people with all kinds of hurts, habits, and hang-ups will find healing and recovery in a new life with Jesus.

That’s my elevator pitch. What’s yours?

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Learn more about Auxano’s Vision Clarity Process.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brandon Cox

Brandon Cox has been a Pastor for fifteen years and is currently planting a church in northwest Arkansas, a Saddleback-sponsored church. He also serves as Editor of Pastors.com and Rick Warren's Pastors' Toolbox, and authors a top 100 blog for church leaders (brandonacox.com). He's also the author of Rewired: Using Technology to Share God's Love.

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Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 
Great work!!!!
 
— Kate Harel
 
After 47 years of ministry experience, I found this easy to agree with, and very hard to live by. All sorts of pressure applied. Eric Gieger's "Simple Church" was a big help!
 
— Jon Breshears
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Five Questions that Change Everything

Mention the name Peter Drucker in management circles, and a hushed silence will fall as your peers wait to see if you might have even a nugget of his wisdom that has not already been disseminated for consumption.

The famed Austrian died in 2005, but not before turning his vast experience and intellect toward the non-profit sector, benefiting churches around the world.

He once offered five questions for organizational strategic self-assessment. Not for “program” assessment or an individual performance review, mind you, but organizational assessment. To this day, most would argue that they really are the five most important questions you will ever ask about your organization.

And shockingly, few churches have ever asked them, much less wrestled with their answers.

Here they are:

1. What Is Our Mission?

Years ago Drucker sat down with the administrators of a major hospital to think through the mission of the emergency room. They began by saying, “Our mission is health care.”

Drucker told them that was the wrong definition.

The hospital does not take care of health; the hospital takes care of illness. Eventually they determined that their mission was: “To give assurance to the afflicted.”

The mission says why you do what you do, not the means by which you do it. It answers these questions: What is our purpose? Why do we do what we do? What, in the end, do we want to be remembered for?

So perhaps, for a church, your “why” (mission) might be: “To reach people far from God, turning them into fully-devoted followers of Jesus.” Regardless of how you word it, it will surely be some variant of the Great Commission given to us by Jesus.

2. Who Is Our Customer?

No matter what you call them – customer, student, patient, participant, volunteer, donor or member – you have someone you are trying to reach; someone you are trying to serve.

Who is it?

As Drucker puts it: “Who must be satisfied for the organization to achieve results?” His answer for the social sector, including churches, is telling: “The primary customer is the person whose life is changed through your work… Supporting customers are volunteers, members, partners, funders, referral sources, employees, and others who must be satisfied.”

In other words, the primary customer for the church is the person far from God; the supporting customer is the person already reached.

3. What Does the Customer Value?

When you ask what a customer values, you are asking what satisfies their needs, wants and aspirations. This is so complicated that it can, of course, only be answered by the customers themselves.

This may be the most important question of the five. Yet, as Drucker notes, it is the one least often asked.

A complicating factor is the reality of multiple constituencies. When I was president of a leading graduate school, I had to be mindful of a vast array of support customers: faculty, staff, trustees, donors, alumni, community residents; not to mention the primary customer – the student.

But take your eye off the ball of your primary customer, and you will negate the very reason you exist. So for a church, perhaps the most telling question is what a person far from God values when it comes to exploring God.

Very few churches know the answer.

4. What Are Our Results?

Drucker wisely notes that the results of social sector organizations are always measured outside the organization in changed lives and changed conditions.

So what does this mean for a church?

What should be appraised and judged so that resources can be concentrated for results?

In a penetrating assessment, Drucker notes that one of the most important questions for nonprofit leadership is: “Do we produce results that are sufficiently outstanding for us to justify putting our resources in this area?”

He would argue that need alone does not justify continuing. Nor does tradition. Like the New Testament parable of the talents, Drucker would challenge that the job of leadership is to invest resources where the returns are manifold, where you can have success.

This shift in thinking – from “needs” to “results” – may be among the most challenging areas for leaders to grapple.

5. What Is Our Plan?

Everything about self-assessment should lead to a plan – a plan that encompasses mission, vision, goals, objectives, action steps, a budget and appraisal.

And be careful with goals. They are critical, to be sure. “Goals flow from mission, aim the organization where it must go, build on strength, address opportunity, and taken together, outline your desired future.”

But they should be few in number. Classic Drucker: “If you have more than five goals, you have none.”

He then adds the five elements of effective plans: 1) abandonment (meaning abandoning what does not work, or in truth, has never worked); 2) concentration (strengthening what does work); 3) innovation (looking for tomorrow’s success); 4) risk taking (planning where to take the risks); and 5) analysis (marking out what you do not know, but need to know).

But through it all, one overarching question reigns supreme:

What do we want to be remembered for?

> Read more from James Emery White.


Learn more about Auxano’s Vision Clarity Process.

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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.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 
Great work!!!!
 
— Kate Harel
 
After 47 years of ministry experience, I found this easy to agree with, and very hard to live by. All sorts of pressure applied. Eric Gieger's "Simple Church" was a big help!
 
— Jon Breshears
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Momentum is the Key to Resurgence

Momentum. Every leader needs it. If you’ve been stationary for any period of time you know you need to generate some. Generating it takes incredible energy. Stepping out of a maligned past is a challenge. Overcoming the barriers and generating healthy momentum is not for the faint of heart. Momentum is the key to leading a resurgence.

Resurgence takes skilled and determined leadership. Are you up for the challenge?

  • Do you see a better future in the face of overwhelming obstacles?
  • Are you living among a group of people you are called to lead who see nothing but the current realities?
  • Is your leadership malaise stifling hope and burying opportunity?

Take courage from Cleveland’s Resurgence!

Last weekend I was in Cleveland for a family gathering. We spent time in the much misunderstood Rust Belt City. As we walked around the city once famous for its great river fire of 1969, I was struck by its radical turn around.

And while it is certain that this great city is not perfect, and that Cleveland still has economic and social issues to overcome, I was struck by the vision and relentless execution that has this beacon of hope on Lake Erie moving in the right direction.

Here are leadership lessons from Cleveland’s resurgence I took with me as I made my way back home to Madison.

Cleveland, Ohio in the United States. City skyline.

Visionary Leaders…

Choose Catalytic Language

Vision has two components: macro and micro, moutaintop and milestone, qualitative and quantitative.

Both components of vision must be compelling.

By compelling I mean that we want to repeat it. We want to share it.

Hope springs when we utter the phrase.

Language has the power to paint a picture. Words create worlds.

Consider this from Cleveland:

The macro Vision launched in 2009 was “Green City on a Blue Lake”

Consider the radical nature of this vision for a city that was nicknamed “Mistake on the Lake”!

“…Cleveland is well on its way to achieving its vision of a ‘green city on a blue lake.’” Read the Entire Article Here.

The micro Vision followed. The mountaintop “Green City on a Blue Lake” would become a reality only by hitting clearly articulated milestones along the 10 year journey.

“In 2009, the city created Sustainable Cleveland 2019, a 10-year action plan initiative devoted to addressing environmental issues and raising awareness.” Read the entire article here.

Sustainable Cleveland 2019 helped the city…

Condense Their Focus

Pursuing vision can be daunting. We have daily reminders of our current position. There are voices all around us that remind us of all the reasons we can’t and won’t. Few people can see beyond the horizon.

So, an effective visionary leader knows that he/she must condense their focus.

One step at a time. The next hill to take. Steady, methodical, patient…all the while holding onto the dream.

Holding onto the inspiring “Green City on a Blue Lake” (like a post card of the dream) Cleveland took the next step pursuing the next initiative.

“Cleveland is building a new reputation of a sustainable ‘green city on a blue lake’ by promoting nine sustainability initiatives. Each initiative serves as the year’s theme for addressing environmental issues in the city. The nine themes are:

2011: The Year of Energy Efficiency
2012: The Year of Local Foods
2013: The Year of Advanced and Renewable Energy
2014: The Year of Zero Waste
2015: The Year of Clean Water
2016: The Year of Sustainability Mobility
2017: The Year of Vibrant Green Space
2018: The Year of Vital Neighborhoods
2019: The Year of People”  Read the entire article here.

It’s 2016. You can see the progress as you walk the streets of Cleveland. Not finished, 10 years is a long time. The vision is a long pursuit in the same direction.

So along the way, the visionary leader realizes that he/she must…

Celebrate Their Progress

“Cleveland has come a long way in the 50 years since the infamous Cuyahoga River fire, even hosting a sustainable celebratory Burning River Fest every year in the summer to help Clevelanders celebrate just how far the city has come….Cleveland is well on its way to achieving its vision of a ‘green city on a blue lake.’” Read the entire article here.

A visionary leader like you can bring others with YOU as YOU…

  • Choose Catalytic Language
  • Condense Your Focus
  • Celebrate Your Progress

Back in 1969, who would have thought that Cleveland would be described like this?

“Hipsters battling to rent warehouse lofts. Trendy bars, espresso shops and music venues. A funky, celebrity-chef-owned restaurant serving bone marrow and crispy pig ears.”

Someone in 2009 who loved Cleveland enough to pursue a “Green City on a Blue Lake”!

  • What vision is stirring in your heart right now?
  • What’s your catalytic language?
  • What’s your condensed focus?
  • What opportunities can you create to celebrate your progress?

If you would like to learn more about vision and momentum, start a conversation with our team. We’re glad to offer our input. Your vision is at stake, so let’s talk.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeff Meyer

Jeff Meyer

I am Jeff Meyer, and I start fires. Ever since that basketball game in college when I came off the bench and lit a spark for my team, I have carried the nickname "Fire Meyer." (Until that point in my career my jersey #22 never saw the floor in an actual game. Perhaps the #22 was a symbol of my life calling: 2 Timothy 2:2?) I live to see sparks ignited and connections made. I long to see the church wake up and live. I long to see Jesus-followers display passionate commitment to Jesus. Jesus' invitation to follow Him was an adventure of epic proportions. Can we recapture that today? I long to see communities transformed into healthy places of wholeness. I believe that communities are transformed when Jesus-followers are stoked and respond. Perhaps you've heard it said that the church is the hope of the world. I believe that a responsive Jesus-follower is the hope of the world. "Igniting connections" is my way of setting off some inspirational sparks; sparks that ignite a passionate response to the call of Jesus.

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 
Great work!!!!
 
— Kate Harel
 
After 47 years of ministry experience, I found this easy to agree with, and very hard to live by. All sorts of pressure applied. Eric Gieger's "Simple Church" was a big help!
 
— Jon Breshears
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.