Do You Recognize Your Generic Vision?

Are you a visionary but just not sure the vision is connecting?

Imagine that the role of vision in your church is like an axe. When skillfully used, it makes a path clear. It removes obstacles. It broadens the path for others to follow. It enables greater accomplishment.

Most pastors regularly pick up the axe of vision in their ministry. Some quickly set it back down, having never been trained in its effective use. Others swing like crazy, unaware that they wield a dull edge. Too often they become frustrated or confused by too little return for their tireless work.

Solution – Recognize your generic vision

THE QUICK SUMMARY – God Dreams by Will Mancini

Is your team excited about the next big dream for your church?

You are a visionary leader and your church probably has a vision statement. Yet most churches are stuck in a trap of generic communication without a truly visionary plan. Just like a visionary restaurant needs a more specific focus than “serving food,” a visionary church needs something more than biblical generalizations like “loving God, loving people” or “making disciples and serving the world.”

When a team doesn’t share an understanding of God’s next big dream, leadership grows tired, overworked by an “all things to all people” ministry approach. Too often there’s no unified picture of what success looks like. People can feel uninspired and your church’s programming can seem more optional than ever.

Ministry without clarity is insanity. Are you ready for a better way?

In this groundbreaking work, based on Will Mancini’s 15 years and over 10,000 hours of church team facilitation, God Dreams reveals a simple and powerful planning method that will bring energy and focus to your church like never before.

First, God Dreams shows how to reclaim the role of long-range vision today by providing 12 vision templates, each with biblical, historical, and contemporary illustrations. These vision starters will dramatically accelerate your team’s ability to find complete agreement regarding your church’s future.

Second, God Dreams explains how to overcome the fruitless planning efforts that many church teams experience. With a tool called the Horizon Storyline, leaders can connect short-term action steps with the long-range dream, while leveraging the power of storytelling to make the plan “stick.” This tool will galvanize a diverse team of ministry leaders and volunteers with unprecedented enthusiasm.

Imagine leading with a refreshed sense of freedom and confidence, with a totally new way to inspire your church. Imagine the ability to harness the energy and resources of your people toward a specific dream of gospel impact, in your church and in your lifetime.

God Dreams is your passport to leading into a better future.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Most pastors and churches are living with generic vision, and because of that, more of their implementation challenges have to do with clarity than they realize. Issues like staff hiring decisions, children’s programming decisions, and campus launch decisions all present major dilemmas only because of unclear vision. Yet in most cases, the lead pastor didn’t recognize it as such.

Once you move past a generic sense to a vivid vision, you will still have many obstacles to overcome, but those are the natural challenges of implementation. You still have the hard work to do. But every action and every point of communication is more powerful with the vivid and compelling picture of the future in view.

Vision is probably the most talked about and least understood term in the church’s leadership lexicon.

Churches today miss their potential not because they lack vision but because they embrace a lesser kind of vision, unaware of doing so. That lesser vision is a generic one.

Most churches have a generic sense of their vision rather than a clearly defined and contextually crafted vision. In the world of vision, generic is an enemy. Specific is your friend. Setting for generic will suck the life out of a church, and the people won’t even know it.

Generic means “to have no distinctive quality.” It’s predictable, common, unoriginal, nondescript, plain, undecorated, and mediocre.

Will Mancini, God Dreams

A NEXT STEP

How can we apprehend the generic church vision that plagues our churches?

The answer begins by identifying nine forms of generic vision that will help you name generic vision that is likely present in your church. The nine stem from three healthy biases. That is to say, we empower generic vision with good motives most of the time. We do the wrong thing for the right reason. It’s a good motive taken a little too far in application.

The three healthy biases are: accuracy, growth, and efficiency.

#1 – ACCURACY BIAS

A healthy bias toward accuracy can lead us to confuse Biblical statements with Biblically informed vision.

The story of church vision in the last two decades could be described as the great misuse of the Great Commandment (Mt. 22:34-40) and the Great Commission (Mt. 28:19-20). Most people have heard some variation of the following as a vision statement for a local church:

  •  “Our vision is to love God and love others.” (Love God vision)
  •  “Our vision is to make disciples of Jesus Christ.” (Make disciples vision)
  • “Our vision is to glorify God.” (Glorify God vision) 

These are biblical imperatives that should apply to all churches, but not as a vision statement. Why? When Jesus summarized the law, He was not giving churches a vision statement. This is a meaningful summary of the law, but it’s not an answer to the question: if we’re a church, what should our vision be for the next three to twenty years?

To summarize the problem, in our efforts to be biblical we fail to be imaginative, by cut-n-pasting verses as vision.

#2 – GROWTH BIAS 

A healthy bias toward growth can lead us to substitute a grow-only vision for a growth-minded vision. 

Some church leaders equate growth with vision. “If we experience momentum, we must have vision,” they reason. Here are three examples of how growth becomes an end in itself as generic kinds of vision statements for a local church:

  • “Our vision is to reach more people for Christ.” (Reach more vision)
  • “Our vision is to build a bigger facility or launch more campuses in order to take the gospel to more places.” (Build more vision)
  • “Our vision is to change world.” (More change vision)

Every church should be reaching more people and multiplying disciples. And an increased response can certainly lead to more facilities and more campuses.

A healthy bias for growth might undergird a vision, but statements like these are weak by themselves. “Reaching more” and “changing the world” are too vague. And buildings and campuses might be important tools, but they are means to something greater, not an end in themselves. 

#3 – EFFICIENCY BIAS

A healthy bias toward efficiency can lead to a done-for-you vision that neglects adequate do-it-yourself vision ownership. 

Church leaders across the centuries have been drawn to learn from other churches where good things seem to be happening. Often this happens with the best of motives: they suspect God is at work and they want to be part of it. They appreciate the encouragement, the ideas, the tools, and the training from the other churches’ leadership. They follow the spirit of 1 Corinthians 11:1 where the Apostle Paul said, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” A noble intent for sure.

But the passion that says, “We don’t want to reinvent the wheel,” while wisely seeking to improve efficiency, can lead to a debilitating blockage of the imagination.

Who wants to leverage the learning of others to the point of sacrificing the thrill of having a God-given, handcrafted vision?

This bias shows up in several approaches to vision. But unlike the accuracy bias and the growth bias, the efficiency bias doesn’t usually express itself in a written vision statement, but in the mindset of the leaders. The three expressions of this intent can be labeled as follows:

  • Serve as a franchise vision
  • Offer the most vision (i.e., more programs)
  • Be the best vision (model church, top 10, etc.) 

When you round up the possibilities of the done-for-you vision, the real problems aren’t the motives driving the leader; it’s the temptation to bypass a meaningful visioning process that pushes through to the personally specific. Only through do-it-yourself ownership is vivid vision really lived out.

To continue this discussion with your team, use the chart below to rank where you and your church are tempted to go generic.

GodDreamsChart1

Once you have completed the above exercise, spend another 30-45 minutes with your team to talk through the implications of the above discovery. Name one to two areas of generic vision and create a plan to develop a vivid description of your God-given vision.


Life is too short and ministry is too hard to swing all day with a blunt-edged vision.

Taken from SUMS Remix 31-2, published January 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 <<

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

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

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 
Reminds me Tony Morgan's classic post entitle “What If Target Operated Like A Church?” I wrote about this in a blog post "Is Your Church Like Target…or More Like A Mall?" https://goo.gl/2qQIy3
 
— bruceherwig
 
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

What Gets in Our Way When It Comes to the Church’s Mission to Make Disciples?

What gets in our way when it comes to the church’s mission to make disciples? Let’s look at the things we do at church and they way we spend our time as pastors:

  1. Preparing a sermon or teaching message in a given week without spending time in disciple-making relationships.
  2. Spending time meeting with staff and church leaders in a given week in lieu of spending time in personal disciple-making relationships.
  3. Designing a worship experience in a given week without a prior design of a clear disciple-making strategy.
  4. Managing a weekly money gathering process from people without having a clear disciple-making vision that will be used to steward the money.
  5. Recruiting people to volunteer in ministry environments without any knowledge of their involvement in disciple-making relationships.
  6. Providing for the care needs of others in the church without a system for care to take place in the context of disciple-making relationships.
  7. Creating any content (worship guides, newsletters, social media, curriculum) without a prior definition of disciple-making outcomes.
  8. Training any small group or Bible study leaders without a prior training in the church’s disciple-making strategy and outcomes.
  9. Developing and launching programs that do not fit into a clear and cohesive disciple-making strategy.
  10. Putting out fires with or for people who could care less whether they have or you have any disciple-making relationships in life. 

What would you add? What do you think pastors do that does not make disciples?  Help me write the next 10!

> Read more from Will.


Would you like to learn more about the obstacles to discipleship in your church – and how to avoid them? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

Download PDF

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| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Process >

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!

Rhonda — 10/03/16 9:39 am

This is a great, thought provoking post. My only addition is this: as I lay leader, I am also responsible for making sure that all my actions are centered in intentional disciple-making activities. If there is no disciple-making involved, I am wasting time and energy - both mine and that of the other members involved in the activities/ministries I am leading.

Myron Williams — 10/03/16 9:24 am

making discipleship a program other staff are responsible for designing and implementing

Recent Comments
I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 
Reminds me Tony Morgan's classic post entitle “What If Target Operated Like A Church?” I wrote about this in a blog post "Is Your Church Like Target…or More Like A Mall?" https://goo.gl/2qQIy3
 
— bruceherwig
 
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

10 Ways to Use Your Mission Statement Today

No, you don’t need a cooler mission statement so you can call it a mantra. No you don’t need a better sounding slogan. You need to know what the heck your church or ministry is ultimately supposed to be doing and you need to state in a clear, concise and compelling way. This is a leadership statement to direct and integrate all of your thinking, speaking and acting. Let me repeat- this is a leadership statement, not a marketing statement.

Start leading today by doing one or more of these activities.

#1 Rewrite your mission on a sheet of paper as many times as there are words in it. Each time write a different word in ALL CAPS. Reflect on each word of the mission. (Note: If your mission has more than 20 words in it, its too long. Proceed to idea #7)

#2 Look at your worship guide from last Sunday. List all of the ministry opportunity categories that were promoted and force rank them with regard to how effective each is at fulfilling the mission. (Great to do as a team.)

#3 Write the mission real big on a white board or white pad in your office and see how people interact with it.

#4 Ask the next ten people you meet in your church office or church service  if they know the mission of the church. (Make it fun and tell them you are doing research for blogger friend.) Pay attention to their response. (And let me know what happened.)

#5 Do this exercise with a person you are eating lunch with: Write the mission on a napkin and ask them, “What does this mission mean to you?” Listen. Then ask them, “When, if at all, did this mission come into your conscious thought?” Listen again.

#6 Create a five minute devotional using your mission, finding an appropriate biblical text to share.  Use the devotional with the different groups you lead this week.

#7 Read this FREE chapter from Church Unique on mission. It’s called Carry the Holy Orders. If you need to re-articulate your mission statement, spend 30 minutes planning time and decision-making steps to get it done.

#8 Make a list of five people that you believe model the mission of your ministry. Send all five of them a quick note to say something like, “Thanks for living the mission. You inspire me!”

#9 Write your personal “shadow mission.” What tends to drive you practically? What tends to drive your church practically? Go ahead and really write it out. (For example, a shadow mission might be, “We want to draw bigger crowds every Sunday with great teaching and worship.”  Compare and contrast the shadow mission with the real mission. Repent. Share this with other leaders.

#10 Spend time in prayer with you leadership team using your mission. Create time and space to pray through the mission and each word of the mission.

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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
I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 
Reminds me Tony Morgan's classic post entitle “What If Target Operated Like A Church?” I wrote about this in a blog post "Is Your Church Like Target…or More Like A Mall?" https://goo.gl/2qQIy3
 
— bruceherwig
 
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

The Time and Place for the Authentic Church

I have spent my life looking for the biblical, authentic church.

  • When I attended VBS at a small Lutheran church in 1st grade, I was thrilled to get the little silver Bible sticker in my pocket Bible.; the kind with Jesus pictures. I always wanted to go back to that church, but we never did.
  • When I attended catechism at a Presbyterian church in Augusta, GA.  I memorized lot’s of God statements. It felt like the right thing to do.
  • When I attended Young Life meetings in high school. It was cool. It was spiritual.
  • When I attended a EFCA church at Penn State and carried around Desiring God (by John Piper) like a sacred text.
  • When I church hopped in Midland, TX working in the oil field.  While exploring the black gold of the Permian Basin, I searched  for the true expression of God’s church.
  • At seminary I found a church in the black and hispanic area in which I lived. It wasn’t what I was used to so it was better.
  • And still I combed the spiritual classics of centuries gone-by, searching for the hidden keys to walking with God.
  • Finally, I found the best model of all. I joined the staff of a church that started south of Houston. We reached unchurched people like that big Chicago seeker church that had all of the answers. I got to be a part of a team that grew one of America’s finest megachurches. This had to be the model, the authentic church.

 

My guess is that you have been pursuing the authentic church as well. And we should. God has put the desire within in us.

How is your search going?

Fifteen years ago, my search ended. I found it. No, I really did find it this time. A friend and consulting colleague, Rich Kannwischer just sent these words, written by Eugene Peterson. They capture perfectly what I found:

Churches are not franchises to be reproduced as exactly as possible wherever and whenever—in Rome and Moscow and London and Baltimore—the only thing changed being the translation of the menu. But if we don’t acquire a narrative sense, a story sense, with the expectation that we are each one of us uniquely ourselves—participants in the unique place and time and weather of where we live and worship—we will always be looking somewhere else or to a different century for a model by which we can be an authentic and biblical church. The usefulness of Acts as a story, and not a prescription or admonition, is that it keeps us faithful to the plot, Jesus, and at the same time free to respond out of our own circumstances and obedience.

Peterson, Eugene H. (2011). The Pastor: A Memoir (p. 119). Harper Collins, Inc.. Kindle Edition.

In light of Peterson’s words, I ask again, “How is it going?” Or maybe the better question to ask is “Where have you been looking?”

It’s my dream that each pastor find the time and place for the authentic church.  And the amazing answer is “It’s right now, right where you are.”

You may want to consider a book I wrote about discovering the authentic church for your time and place. I called the book Church Unique to highlight what Eugene Peterson is talking about here. It’s really about entering more deeply into the context that God has placed you to develop your own model of ministry. It’s about faithfulness to The Plot rather than mimicking another person’s story.


To learn more about discovering your authentic church, connect with one of Auxano’s Navigators.


Read more from Will here.

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
I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 
Reminds me Tony Morgan's classic post entitle “What If Target Operated Like A Church?” I wrote about this in a blog post "Is Your Church Like Target…or More Like A Mall?" https://goo.gl/2qQIy3
 
— bruceherwig
 
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Three Branding Strategies for Your Church

In 2004 the marketing guru David Aaker, published a book entitled Brand Portfolio Strategy, in which he describes a tool called a “Brand Relationship Spectrum” to help simplify the world of brands when companies steward multiple products or services. Revisiting his book will help us create a very simple, three-part language for church leaders. Understanding these basic strategies can have a profound impact on how your church communicates.

But before moving on…Even though, the “b-word” can be lead to resistance from the church crowd, it shouldn’t. Branding is simply how your church builds relationships with communication tools.

The genius of tool is represented by two terms that Aaker used to coin the ends of the spectrum.  On one end of the spectrum he identified a strategy called the “Branded House” to describe a company like Apple, Harvard or Cisco, where one unified brand is the sole driver for many products or services. For example, Apple creates products like iPhone, iPod, iPad, iTunes, etc., but they are driven primarily by the Apple master brand. On the other end of the spectrum is the strategy of the “House of Brands” to describe the diversity of stand-alone brands that all belong to one relatively invisible company like Procter & Gamble or Yum Foods. For example Yum brands represent, KFC, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell. But when you eat at these establishments, you don’t encounter the master brand at all.

Most ministries, however, live between the two ends of the spectrum- somewhere between “Branded House” and “House of Brands.” Therefore we name the third way- in the middle- as “House Blend.” This in-between language was created by a friend and brilliant dude, Armando Fullwood.

Here is how Armando explained the House Blend:

The “House Blend” – This is an architecture based on the development of sub-brands with the added credibility of the existing parent brand. Google, for example, started as a search engine then continued to establish the primary brand through offerings such as Gmail, Calendar, and Maps. Eventually, they began to acquire other, smaller tech companies such as Blogger, Picasa, and YouTube. These acquisitions maintained their existing brands but gained credibility through the primary brand of Google.

Another example, is Nabicso. They own many retail brands that consumers recognize like Wheat Thins, Ritz, and Triscuits. But you will see a master brand visual from Nabisco on a box of Wheat Thins in the upper left-hand corner (you can probably picture it.) That would be an example of the House Blend strategy.

Now the key to naming these three strategies starts with evaluating your church ministries. Most churches drift toward a house blend or a house of brands too quickly. Armando offers some initial insight here:

Smaller organizations that are still focusing on gaining market share need to choose the architecture that will help them grow the fastest. A “House Blend” is most often the wrong choice in these cases. House blends thrive on the credibility of the parent brand. If a smaller company has a product or service that they would like to introduce into their existing structure, it’s usually a good idea to create a sub-category of their existing brand rather that creating a new brand for that product or service. This makes a “Branded House” architecture an excellent choice.

Also, non-profit, experience-based organizations such as churches thrive on branding simplicity. For example, in a church with multiple ministries it can be tempting to create a new brand/logo for each division (House of Brands or House Blend). However, this creates internal competition. Each brand begs for attention from the attendee and struggles to be recognized as “part” of the main brand. Many times, each ministry feels the responsibility to develop their own brand, which can consume an enormous amount of energy. Instead, try focusing on your main brand and simply categorizing ministries under that brand. For example, if Faith Church has a children’s ministry, it wouldn’t have it’s own name…it would simply be the “Faith Church Children’s Ministry”.

In the rest of this series on branding, I will continue to unpack key questions around church communication and illustrate what brand guidelines should like for different churches. We will address questions like:

1) Why do churches tend to fragment their message so much?

2) What about the missional church? How does branding apply as it sounds so “corporate” and old school?

3) How do you know when its time to launch new ministry sub brands in a large church?

4) What does a well developed communication and branding strategy look like?

Read more from Will here.


Would you like to learn more about branding for your organization? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

Download PDF

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| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

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!

bruceherwig — 01/26/17 5:18 pm

Reminds me Tony Morgan's classic post entitle “What If Target Operated Like A Church?” I wrote about this in a blog post "Is Your Church Like Target…or More Like A Mall?" https://goo.gl/2qQIy3

Recent Comments
I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 
Reminds me Tony Morgan's classic post entitle “What If Target Operated Like A Church?” I wrote about this in a blog post "Is Your Church Like Target…or More Like A Mall?" https://goo.gl/2qQIy3
 
— bruceherwig
 
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 

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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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 
Reminds me Tony Morgan's classic post entitle “What If Target Operated Like A Church?” I wrote about this in a blog post "Is Your Church Like Target…or More Like A Mall?" https://goo.gl/2qQIy3
 
— bruceherwig
 
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

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

Classic wisdom taught us that our mission or purpose statements are timeless. In many ways that’s true and its a helpful teaching concept. And in an ideal world, it works. But in reality, there are times when a leader should change or renew or recreate the sense of mission. So don’t let the classic wisdom freeze you and prevent a significant opportunity to create fresh meaning and new progress for God’s people under your care today. When should you rewrite your mission?

1) When no one knows the one you have

This happens when leaders have not been emotionally connected to the big idea of what the church is about; therefore they don’t use it as an everyday leadership tool. It never makes it into conversations, team meetings, volunteer recruitment or preaching. Usually this is the result of some ridiculous committee-based jargon that is way too long. Or it may be just a short over-generalization of the Great Commission or Great Commandment that has no real teeth for folks in the congregation.

EXAMPLE: Grace Presbyterian in Houston is in a two-year interim between senior pastors. The people of Grace engaged a vision process to better articulate their identity their and direction. Their previous mission to “Love God, Love people” wasn’t specific or actionable enough. So they are currently proposing a new expression, “Building a faith family by encouraging people overwhelmed by life to trust Christ in everything.”

2) When your existing mission reinforces, unintentionally, a consumeristic mentality

We look for the “catalytic” factor in a good mission; that is, it should reinforce upon hearing it, that it involves everyone in the gathering of God’s people. Sometimes a statement subtly reinforces the idea that “we have a pastor or staff who does the mission for us.” (Even thought this is always unintentional, it is more common than you would think.) The last thing you want is a statement that strengthens the death of the church with a clergy-laity false divide.

EXAMPLE: Bruce Miller grew Christ Fellowship in McKinney, Texas to about 2,000 in worship attendance. As the growth began to slow, I challenged him the idea that his mission wasn’t working any more: “Helping people follow Christ” What had clearly been everyone’s role when the church was 200 people (helping people), wasn’t so clear now that the church was 2,000 in attendance.  He didn’t believe me, so he tested it out. I told him to ask his leaders “Who helps people around here?” They all replied, “The staff.” So within the Vision Pathway process, the team added two simple words that changed everything. The mission of Christ Fellowship is now “People helping people, find and follow Christ”

3) When you simply have a better way to be more clear and compelling as your church grows and multiplies

Sometimes greater clarity comes as you lead. Sometimes a significant accomplishment behind you leaves you with an entirely new perspective looking ahead. At such times, a tweak or evolution of your mission can be strategic and powerful for the people you are leading.

EXAMPLE: At Faithbridge UMC, Ken Werlein saw tremendous growth in the first ten years to over 3,000 in worship attendance. Up to that point he had always led passionately with the same mission: “Making more and stronger disciples of Jesus.” To keep it catalytic, it would often be followed with the phrase, “By being a bridge of faith to people everyday.” But as the church grew, Ken was concerned about the quality of reproducing disciples. They spend an entire year re-envisioning their groups process and wanted to further clarify the end that was already embedded in the mission but not clearly expressed as it could be. Their mission now: “Making more and stronger disciples of Jesus, who make more and stronger disciples of Jesus.”

4) When you have discovered your Kingdom Concept  and can be more contextual with your language

We have worked with churches that have a good statements of mission that become less meaningful on the backside of our Kingdom Concept discovery work at Auxano. The Kingdom Concept is an tool we use to further discern your church’s unique strength by examining more thoughtfully, the unique place the church is located (local predicament) the unique people that God has gathered (collective potential) and the unique passion of the leadership team(apostolic spirit).  It answers the question, :What can your church do better than 10,000 others.”  Church leaders love to refresh their mission after this experience.

EXAMPLE: The Elders at Northwest Bible Church, led by Neil Tomba, were excited to land the plane on their Kingdom Concept, that unpacked how the church was called to “Make Jesus real in a make-believe world.” They discuss how their local area is filled with worldly and religious pretense. They discussed their passion to embrace and reinterpret brokenness.  Afterwards their existing mission, albeit good, didn’t feel great. It was, “Equipping people to passionately pursue Christ to do whatever he asks of us in the world.” Now their mission is “Inviting people into the unexpected joy of desperate dependance on Jesus.” Can you feel the difference?

5) When you borrowed the language of another church model to get started and now you have “grown -up”

Yes, many great leaders planted churches in the 80s, 90s and 00s by looking to great models like Willowcreek, Saddleback, NorthPoint, LifeChurch.tv, to name a few. These model churches also created vocabulary that leaders were inspired to adopt. This borrowing of language works fine in the early years. The problem is, God is always doing something unique and new. That means at some point in the church’s history and the leader’s core, a hunger emerges to express that something new; that something one-of-a-kind that God is doing. If this is happening you should name it by re-articulating your mission.

EXAMPLE: David Saathoff at Bandera Road City Church has seen God do amazing things at their church in San Antonio. In the early days, David was proud to take many cues from Bill Hybels. In fact, BRCC was a poster child seeker church. The church’s mission in its first chapter of ministry was, “Helping people far from God become fully devoted followers of Christ.” The mission ws meaningful and strong in the beginning. But a leader always knows where they get their words. David never forgot that his words were really articulated from the heart of Bill Hybels, not his own. Later, through the Vision Pathway, David would find the perfect words for what God was doing uniquely through the people of BRCC. Today their mission is, “Helping people far from God be catalysts of spiritual and social change.”

6) When you are reinventing or reinvigorating a declining church

If the mission isn’t happening it isn’t happening. I don’t think I have ever seen a turn-a-round without some new leadership or leadership tools in place. Remember the most fundamental tool of leadership is the statement of mission. It answers question zero- the question before all other questions. There are simply times where you need a re-statement to be a part of a congregational reboot.

EXAMPLE: Years ago Crozet BaptistCchurch realized that life wasn’t going to get better as a congregation unless they started focusing outward. With twenty-five deacons in the room  we set out to re-articulate their mission. With many different opinions in the room, there was one thing they could agree on: their town was located in the fastest growing county in the state and they would see unprecedented opportunity to reach people in  the church’s one-hundred plus year history. At the end of the Vision Pathway, they had a brand new day of clarity starting with the mission to encourage people in our ever-expanding community to follow Christ with ever-increasing passion.

Read more from Will here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

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

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COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 
Reminds me Tony Morgan's classic post entitle “What If Target Operated Like A Church?” I wrote about this in a blog post "Is Your Church Like Target…or More Like A Mall?" https://goo.gl/2qQIy3
 
— bruceherwig
 
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How Many Ministry Logos Should Your Church Have?

It’s unbelievable how quickly churches fragment their message. It’s easy for staff and volunteers the create stuff that feels good to them but is either completely unnecessary (at best) or clutters communication (at worst). Every day in America some new church ministry or program is creating some new, cute little visual to stuff into an already overpacked worship bulletin.

So the question we address today is “How many ministry logos should your church really have?” Here are the seven guidelines I use.

#1 Don’t create a sub-ministry logo until you have a vision-based brand for the entire church.

This guideline goes back to our branded house strategy. A church is a very finite, limited group of people. The most important idea at anytime for attenders of the church is the ONE singular reason for the church’s existence. What is the story? What is the big idea? What is the mission of the church that we want to keep before everybody all of the time? This should not only be clear, but clearly represented visually through the church’s primary logo and brand attributes. One of my most popular posts will provide more info and illustration: Top Ten Church Logos for Telling Story Through Design

If your church creates a sub-ministry logo without the “house” logo in place, it’s like sizing your curtains before the house’s blueprint is determined. We don’t know the size of the windows yet!  It just doesn’t make sense. You can’t even make a lucky guess. Don’t distract yourself from the prior work to be done. Don’t waste your resources.

Could the sub-ministry logo feel urgent and exciting to the leader of the ministry? Of course!  And is it possible that the leader of the ministry could care less about the overall church logo.  Of course! (And that’s the problem.) Unintentionally you would be reinforcing what we call a “lower room” identity—a program-based connection—rather than a vision-based, “upper room” identity.

In the end, church leadership must decide whether or not they will connect their people to the biggest idea and deepest calling of the church.

#2 Don’t create a sub-ministry logo until you have clear visual representation of  your strategy. The strategy icon will “transcend” the use of program-based logos.

The idea here is to lead with a compelling picture of how your church accomplishes its mission before you lead with program-based logos. Why? Because in the the end, programs don’t attract people; people attract people. To make the assimilation process in your church simple, easy and obvious, you have to clear the clutter and communicate strategically. Fire a rifle shot, not a shotgun blast. Here is an example from Faithbridge UMC in Houston, TX. The three main things you do at Faithbridge are: 1) attend worship, 2) participate in a grow group, and 3) engage a serve team. This is centered around a bridging lifestyle— being a bridge of faith to people everyday.

#3 The two most important logos after the church’s primary logo are children’s ministry and student ministry. These logos are most important for three reasons: 1) Birth through 12th grade ministries directly affects 25-45% of the church population. 2) Parents are quickly evaluating the safety and quality of offerings to children, and 3) These ministries create an additional way-finding experience, even for guests.

#4 Don’t create sub-ministry or program-based logos with complete disregard to the church’s overall brand and logo. Unfortunately, this rule is violated all of the time. The church overflows with random, disconnected creativity. A passionate leader creates new visual tools without realizing the disconnect. It’s like every room in a house has a distinct interior decorator who could care less about what the other rooms in the house look like. Therefore people never experience the family dynamic of unified vision, but rather, a bunch of folks doing separate things under one roof. I will admit, that this principle speaks to a nuance that even most church communicators have not been trained to understand.

What’s the solution? In a nutshell every sub-ministry “look and feel” should have a “design rational” that connects it to the “house brand.”

To educate yourself on this design competency, observe the sub-branded products in stores like Starbucks or the Apple Store. Designers take great effort to bring fresh initiatives or products with a design that still “fits” artistically under the overall brand.  For example, look at the distinct-but-connected design of the different roasts from the Starbucks website. Note how these images related to one another and the Starbucks master brand. (Don’t forget to study this dynamic in retail and online environments every day— free education for church communicators.)

Now let’s show an example of principle #3 and #4 for a church. When Sugar Creek Baptist Church asked us to design their brand, we also designed a children’s ministry and student ministry logo. In this case the design rational for the sub ministries was based on the logo font itself (Univers Ultra Condensed) The ministries added their own creativity. The children’s ministry added a softer secondary color palette and the beach ball element. The student ministry added a simple, and but unexpected typeface for the unique name “LYF.” The strategy icon image is also shown. Note how the colors for the student ministry are from the same color palette as the strategy icon.

#5 A guideline for adding a creatively distinct sub-ministry logo after children and student ministries, is one new logo for every thousand people in worship attendance. So a church of 400 in worship should not create additional sub-ministry logos than children and students. A church of 2,000 in attendance could have two additional sub-ministry logos. For example they could have the base three (church logo, children’s logo, and student’s logo) and a logo for life groups (first additional) and a logo for mission ministry (second additional).

#6  Ministries that will inevitably want a logo too early in the development of the church’s growth should use simple and similar font-based solutions based on the church’s brand. This practice requires a design-based font selection. For example with the MET Church, all adult ministries were given two fonts from which to build a type-face solution identity— see the Worship Arts ministry below. This enables a broader selection of ministries to be communicated without clutter, distraction and disconnection.

#7 One seasonal campaign-based logo is acceptable at any time in addition to the guidelines above, based on the church’s vision proper (seasonal goal or milestone). A campaign is another great opportunity to sub-brand. Again, the key is to “think outside the box, inside the brand.” That is, do fresh things, but keep them connected and related in a meaningful way to the overall brand. Also, keep it limited to one highly visible initiative at a time.

Below you will see the creative design of the “Big Give” campaign at the MET. Here we used a dramatic contrast of color while keeping it in the same strong, masculine color palette (blue rather than red and black) to carry the playful name of the campaign. The consistency came in using a huge dot to define the look, zooming in on the basic design element of a circle. The combination is creatively unique but totally consistent at the same time— and that’s what a sub-brand is all about.

On a side note, I am proud of the Auxano Design team who are true thought-leaders in helping churches navigate communications with unprecedented clarity and excellent. Without them it would be impossible to show you these examples.

Read more from Will.


Find out more about Auxano’s Communication services.
Download PDF

Tags: , , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

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
I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 
Reminds me Tony Morgan's classic post entitle “What If Target Operated Like A Church?” I wrote about this in a blog post "Is Your Church Like Target…or More Like A Mall?" https://goo.gl/2qQIy3
 
— bruceherwig
 
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

How Your Church Can Leverage Five Trends in Retail

I am currently helping a large, non-profit Christian retailer go through a visioning process. Last week a retail consultant led two hours of dialogue in a meeting I attended. These points are heavily adapted from that conversation with some additional thoughts on how they relate to the church.

Trend #1: Tweets and Seats- Provide free wifi and places to sit.

This is fairly simple to apply at church. Don’t wonder wether you should have wifi or not in any church space. Provide it! Retailers understand this is not a distraction for their customers but is a part of how their customers live (constant mobile connectivity). In addition, its an opportunity for customers to engage the retail space itself in deeper ways like getting more product information, validating lowest price or seeing creative applications and outcomes of certain products.

In church, the connectivity that wifi provides can translate to deeper engagement to everything that matters for the mission. Examples:

  • “Can I download the music I am worshipping to right now for personal worship on tuesday morning?
  • “Can I sign-up for a group while I am listening to a sermon on biblical community?”
  • “Can I use my preferred digital copy of God’s word while following the sermon?”
  • Can I take notes in way that will be automatically accessible in a cloud before I leave the service?”

The possibilities are endless.

Trend #2: Big Data- Know my wife’s birthday—and remind me—before it comes to my mind.

Big data is used to describe the massive amounts of data that retails are able to gather, configure and use to better serve their customers. As connectivity, social media and technology accelerate, big data will yield mind-numbing implications for how people are served. For example, imagine Hallmark cards reminding you of your wife’s birthday at the right time, the right place in the right way (device & medium) for you.

Today at Elevation Church, every attender was strongly urged to tear off a response card and answer three questions. The first question is “What year were you born?” The big deal is the appeal that was made in the moment of asking. The creative pastor shared that, “We want to do everything possible to design the best worship experience for you and this information will help us.” This is Elevation’s way of building their data.

There are a few big players out there in the church information space (I recommend checking out CCB). Be sure to select the one that is most usable and relevant for the future possibilities of big data. More importantly, think creatively of the umpteen ways that you can collect and use information to serve people. For example, I was recently scolded by my church’s student ministry assistant for missing the cut-off of camp sign-up. (Okay, it was my fault). But there’s about 3-4 different ways that this ministry could have reminded me of this info, if they used the data they already possessed. Is a simple text reminder asking too much?  Think of the implications way beyond event sign-up, like daily discipleship tools, digital missions and social story-telling. Quite frankly, the possibilities are amazing if church leaders wake up to this opportunity!

My prediction: the pastor of digital engagement will be the fastest growing new church job of the future.

Trend #3: The Back Story- Sharing why you sell what is you sell is more important than what you sell.

If you look, you will see many retailers returning to their roots and telling their creation story to emotionally connect you to their brand. Johnston & Murphy wants you to know they have been making shoes since 1850 and, it just so happens, they are the shoe provider for U.S. Presidents. While we see this all the time with creative upstarts and social entrepreneurs, more and more big for-profits are going there.

The simple lesson for the church is that values are important— a practice we are constantly trying to help church leaders advance at Auxano. This trend should be the church’s constant centerpiece, at least with regard to the biblical ideal. Why we do what we do is the heart of any ministry. The relevant application of this is pushing your ability to articulate—and then integrate—how your unique creation story and ministry values help people see, experience and engage the vision. The first step is to communicate the difference. Why does your community need your church anyway? (And don’t give me with generic answers.) Here is an article just posted on the Vision Room that will help.

Trend #4: Store within a store- Speak to specific segments within your tribe.

Stores like JC Penny or Best Buy are leading the way. At Best Buy you can make a purchase at several different stores within the big store. For example, you can buy standard cables for your new TV in the standard Best Buy aisles or you can go to Magnolia section, with a distinct in-store look and feel, and pickup higher-end cables. You will pay more, but you will also get customized service, like a follow-up phone call, to see how your TV installation went.

This is a harder point of application for churches, because of the pre-existing problem of fragmentation. In other words, if your church already has too much stuff, creating another sub-ministry logo won’t help. (Here is a post on that challenge.) The best way to apply this principle is not with a sub-ministry program in the traditional sense, but with an equipping feature in the “tools and resources” sense. For example, Mountain Park Community Church has a “Home Team” area in their lobby with tools for families based on specific family issues and life stages. The resource center does not clutter the church’s programatic offering but provides a “value-add” to certain segments of their congregation. The key question is “How can you add specific value to specific groups in your church?”

Trend #5: Generational Training- Teach a millennial how to greet a boomer.

Retailers know that age-segment values and practices can make people feel like arrived on a different planet.  You can’t just expect a 23 year-old woman to know how to great a 63 year-old woman. Tight-niche retailers worry less about this because they will hire to mirror their demographic target.

But most churches don’t have this tight-niche luxury, so this trend is particularly appropriate. When was the last time you trained your first-impressions team or welcome ministry in generational preferences? Beyond greeting, imagine the rich implication for all of discipleship. In many churches with history over 30 years, generational viewpoints on walking with God may be your greatest under-utilized asset. How are you leveraging the variety of perspectives, convictions and practices of generations for the sake of the mission?

I would love to hear of any practical applications along these lines at your church!

Read more from Will here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

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

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Recent Comments
I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 
Reminds me Tony Morgan's classic post entitle “What If Target Operated Like A Church?” I wrote about this in a blog post "Is Your Church Like Target…or More Like A Mall?" https://goo.gl/2qQIy3
 
— bruceherwig
 
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

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

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

Yet in observing hundreds of churches from coast to coast, not all “releasing” is the same. In fact, there is a good kind and a bad kind.  And if you don’t the difference, your ministry will be limited for the rest of your life.

Let’s say a pastor is consistently recruiting volunteers to initiate and lead in multiple environments like groups, classes, and teams. And let’s say he has just recruited ten new small group leaders. In the next week, let’s imagine these ten leaders will be facilitating some kind of learning and relationship building in homes for the sake of Jesus— a common snapshot of small group life in the American church.

What will actually happen in those homes?

In this scenario the most common kind of “releasing” is fragmentation. That is, we are not just splitting up and breaking into “smaller chunks of people” with regard to ministry time and place, we are also dividing and breaking apart the shared intent within each time and place.

The biblical and effective way to “release” is not fragmentation but decentralization. That is, taking some centrally defined intent and executing them without a central person or place defining the experience.

Most ministry activity is fragmented not decentralized because there simply no clarity of shared intent, no cultivation of shared values, and no development of shared abilities within the church. In short, their is no shared vision, just many little mini-visions everywhere a ‘piece’ of the ministry gathers.

The few ministries that operate a decentralized ministry have gone to great lengths to build a well defined vision first. Something other than a central pastor or central church building define the what, why and how of reality where ever groups, classes or events meet. That something always brings shared meaning in the form of  ideals, goals, dreams, tools, approaches, stories, etc.

To illustrate, Alcoholics Anonymous is a decentralized organization.  This successful program happens with no central person or place to guide it. But there is a central methodology—12-steps—with a defined set of values and practices that guide the experience of de-centralized communities.

What central methodology guides the experiences of your classes or groups or teams? Is your ministry fragmented or decentralized?

It is tempting to try to explain these concepts with metaphors like “the starfish and the spider” or apples and oranges. There are several quick and dirty metaphors out there. But based on your unique church context those metaphors may or may not work. That’s why I am working on a better metaphor or illustration for another post.  I would love to hear your ideas if any come to mind.

Read more from Will here.

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
I'm lost, to say the least! As a new pastor, taking over a newly started church I have read just about everything there is to learn what I can do to grow the church. I truly beleive that those attending our church are friendly and sincere. So that can't be the issue. I have read all the comments to this article and I feel that most churches will never have a fair chance! We are a VERY small church, so we don't have a children's church (yet). So if a family comes and gets upset that we don't have a children's church for them to put their children into, we lose! We do provide things for their kids to do during the service and even have an option for their kids to be in a different room, if they don't want their kids to sit with them. We are also such a small church that we don't have a worship team/band/etc. Our worship music comes from music videos. The congregation we do have likes it this way, but of course we would love to have a worhsip team. So, if someone comes to our church and is upset that we don't have live music, we lose! The point I am trying to make is that when people come in with preconceived ideas of what a church should be like, they will never find a church home, unless they find a church who's goal is to entertain! Every Sunday our message comes from the Bible, so that can't be a complaint for someone, so instead, people leave the church and never come back because they want more from a church: they don't want friendly people who are following the Word of God; they want a church that give them something (a babysitter for their kid, entertainment, free gifts, etc.) I'm sorry if sound cynical, I truly want everyone to hear the Good News and learn about Christ's love, but if they come in looking for something else, then the church will always lose!
 
— JAG
 
Reminds me Tony Morgan's classic post entitle “What If Target Operated Like A Church?” I wrote about this in a blog post "Is Your Church Like Target…or More Like A Mall?" https://goo.gl/2qQIy3
 
— bruceherwig
 
Challenging and very good
 
— John Gilbank
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.