Archives For Will Mancini

MegaphoneAfter taking LifeWay Christian Stores through a vision process, I not only shop there often, I go with a different mindset. Their mission is passionately engaging believers on their journey of faith. The big idea is to be an oasis-outfitter. A place that feels at the same time like a refreshing oasis and an REI outfitter, for your spiritual life.

Because I’m a father to Abby, my 15-year old daughter, I recently  picked up a new piece of equipment: a book by Kate Conner titled,  Enough: 10 Things we Should be Telling our Teenage Girls.

Here is a takeaway that I think brings immediate value to any Christian using social media.

ONE PRINCIPLE

Conner argues that the answer to problems with social media don’t center around removing social media itself. Rather it involves the commitment to:

Take the good, leave the rest.

She cites 1 Thess. 5:21: “Test everything. Hold on to the good.” Here is where her words grabbed me:

  • Take the enjoyment, leave the addiction
  • Take the communication, leave the isolation
  • Take the inspiration and leave the jealously

Good stuff. And remember what Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able…

Continue Reading

CourtroomI recently got to know David Middlebrook of the Church Law Group. My eyes were reopened to the scope of legal implications for the church. Because I like to focus my energies on vision, I frankly don’t think very much about the legal ramifications of church leadership. What struck me however is this: Legal negligence as a church leader leaves your vision susceptible.

Here are my seven take-aways:

#1  Don’t ignore governance. Sometime a gap grows between the way you practically get things done and the ways things are legally outlined to get done. You church has a by-laws and some kind of “birth certificate” as a legal entity. When is the last time you visited these documents and aligned them to current reality or made them more functional?

#2  Guard your church’s real “vault”—your children. Almost 80% of churches that get taken to trial do so around the safety of children. Many churches to background checks on your children’s workers? That’s a good first step but there is a lot more you can do. Things like designing interview protocols and ongoing regular training to name a few. In the end, your church’s reputation, financial resources and…

Continue Reading

Big WorldI often see leaders with radically different size visions, despite having a lot in common. Pastors may have the the same gifting, the same budget and the same amount of people attending worship services and yet still be on entirely different vision wavelengths. Where does this come from? Why does this happen?

Here are my initial thoughts.

Keep in mind that I believe providence and local ministry context are the primary factors in determining the scope of a ministry’s vision. This list focuses on developmental aspects of leadership.

#1 The size of your God

This isn’t a spiritual throw-in to get the list rolling. This is a very discernible feature in a leader’s life. Some leaders have a more cultivated inner life and deeper awareness of God’s Word. Their ability to dream big comes from the big God that they walk with and serve each day.

#2  Exposure to others who “think big”

Did you ever notice why many prominent leaders have children who are prominent leaders? I think of Andy Stanley or Franklin Graham, for example. When you are around others with a larger perspective, it rubs off. I am surprised sometimes how leaders tend…

Continue Reading

Greeting at ChurchThe team at Auxano enjoys playing the role of “secret worshipper” when we take a church through our visioning process called the Vision Pathway. We call it a guest perspective evaluation. As I prepare to debrief a church again tomorrow, I want to share some general insights on welcoming ministry and hospitality for guests. Here are the top ten mistakes I see when volunteers are helping me as a first time guest:

#1   Volunteers have not thought in advance about my next step as a guest so they don’t know how to guide the conversation with me.

#2   Volunteers  are talking with friends and don’t notice me.

#3   Volunteers are doing task work and are not available or responsive the moment I show up.

#4   Volunteers generally hesitate when I initiate with a question.

#5   Volunteers don’t know where the most pertinent information is located.

#6   Volunteers  tell me what to do with no information or tools or other people to help me.

#7   Volunteers generally look preoccupied, distracted or unsure of themselves in their non-verbals even when being friendly.

#8   Volunteers are unaware of the basic “how to”…

Continue Reading

You’ve heard of annual reports, but have you thought of creating one for your church? The point of course is not to imitate a common corporate practice, but to leverage every opportunity to cast vision. As we scan a few reasons why you should do this, let’s start with a definition.

Wiki: An annual report is a comprehensive report on a company’s activities throughout the preceding year. Annual reports are intended to give shareholders and other interested people information about the company’s activities and financial performance. The details provided in the report are of use to investors to understand the company’s financial position and future direction.

Why you should leverage this communication tool:

#1 An annual report creates a great “excuse” to cast vision. Most people know what an annual report is, but don’t expect their church to provide one. Why not leverage the “placeholder in their mind” to make  a positive impact?

#2 An annual report utilizes a natural rhythm for reflection and refocus. Remember, God created the cycle of a year. Since you use the year to define everything else in your life, why not use it to nourish…

Continue Reading

Below you will find what I believe to be 20 very important, if not the most important things you should know about your church. Keep in mind these are things to measure about your church as an organization.  (This is NOT the top things to measure in terms of individual spiritual formation.)  I have told pastors for a long time I wouldn’t consider pastoring again unless I had the congregation’s commitment to measure these 20 things every two years.

But first the backstory…

For the last 12 years, the Auxano team has developed, used and refined a survey designed completely around the culture, vision  and strategic mid-term decision-making priorities of the church. I have led this process by turning over and inside out every possible church survey I could find. After about five years I felt like we had a good template to start with as we helped local churches with their specific needs and challenges.

We  have never advertised and I have never even blogged about this product. Why?  Despite its incredible benefit to our church clients we did not have the capacity to offer the…

Continue Reading

Leadership conversations these days are laced with a common thread: we are rethinking the “vision” word we use so often in ministry. Like a burr under a saddle, something is irritating the collective soul of church leadership. What is it? Look closely at the introduction of current leadership books and you will see it.  Listen carefully to the passion of today’s emerging leaders, and you’ll hear it. The key word is “unique.”

From within the conferencing era of church equipping, leaders are diagnosing more and more the epidemic of photocopied vision and are repenting of unoriginal sin. Why? Unintentionally, leaders have traded out a lion for pussycat, by taming the unique call of God for their church by a preoccupation with what is working down the street.

In the opening of their book, The Intangible Kingdom , church planters Hugh Halter and Matt Smay tell the story of starting the Addulam community. What motivated them?We no longer could deny God’s unique work among us.”

Recently Anthony Coppedge, a church media consultant posted this comment on his blog: “There are more churches contacting me who have lost their own identity…

Continue Reading

Below you will find what I believe to be 20 very important, if not the most important things you should know about your church. Keep in mind these are things to measure about your church as an organization.  (This is NOT the top things to measure in terms of individual spiritual formation.)  I have told pastors for a long time I wouldn’t consider pastoring again unless I had the congregation’s commitment to measure these 20 things every two years.

But first the backstory…

For the last 12 years, the Auxano team has developed, used and refined a survey designed completely around the culture, vision  and strategic mid-term decision-making priorities of the church. I have led this process by turning over and inside out every possible church survey I could find. After about five years I felt like we had a good template to start with as we helped local churches with their specific needs and challenges.

We  have never advertised and I have never even blogged about this product. Why?  Despite its incredible benefit to our church clients we did not have the capacity to offer…

Continue Reading

Clear VisionA couple of weeks ago I enjoyed a back-to-back connections with three very different and very fruitful ministries. On Monday, I was in Chicago with Dave and John Ferguson on the Community Christian Church team. On Tuesday I was with Mountain Lake  Church in Atlanta, and on Wednesday  I was with Upward Sports in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

These ministries demonstrate dramatic success. Dave and Jon have built a city-reaching, multi-site church as well as a church planting network (New Thing) around the defining value of “reproducing at every level”Shawn Lovejoy has lead a unique and effective church in the shadow of Andy Stanley’s North Point Community Church. (In addition, he has encouraged a tribe of church planters through the ministry of churchplanters.com.) Both churches gather thousands of people weekly. Upward, as a sports ministry, has impacted millions and continues to cast mind-stretching vision to reach millions more.

My time in reflection on these ministries brought these observations:

#1 The unexamined vision is not worth casting.

When these leaders talk about what God is doing in their ministries, you can feel the ownership and passion that comes through the constant seeking, wrestling, deciding and articulating work of clarity. When they…

Continue Reading

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…

Continue Reading

Vision Planning

I have reflected over a decade on the question of how visionaries develop. These are some initial thoughts that I want to share with blog readers as I think out loud a bit. I would really appreciate your comments and input toward the development of these ideas.

Stage One: VISION CATCHING

Every visionary leaders starts by following someone else’s vision. Here, the fundamental practice of following well precedes and develops the ability to lead well. During this time, a future visionary learns to submit to godly authority. In this stage the future visionary’s style is shaped by the strengths and limitation of the lead visionary. Strengths provide a foundational modeling opportunity. Limitations and weakness forge convictions that will eventually shape the values of the future leader.

Stage Two VISION CASTING

Eventually the visionary leader starts casting vision themselves. There are three nuances of how this vision relates to the the prior vision-catching content. In other words, most of early vision casting is found “underneath” the vision of a leader and/or organization of the developing visionary. The visionary casts vision: a) in support of, b) in relation to, and finally c) in contrast with.

Gospel TheologyI recently heard Tim Keller speak on his new book Center Church (more on this in the blog later). The image above is his outline on gospel theology which is about one-eighth of the book. I am halfway through the book and I believe it is the most important book on church leadership written in my lifetime.

Here are a few quotes, including four stellar declarations of a church that is true to the Gospel:

#1 We are a church not just for ourselves but for those who don’t believe

#2 We are a church not just for ourselves but for the poor

#3 We are a church not just for ourselves but for the whole body of Christ

#4 We are a church not just for ourselves but for our church community

Two other quotes:

“In some ways we need to shape the church to be more engaged with the culture and in other ways we need to shape the church to be more confrontational with the culture.” – Tim Keller

“In the church members should say,  ’I give up the right to live my life the way I want, and I submit myself to a covenant community.’” -…

Continue Reading