January 17, 2014

What Pastors are Saying About the Book Innovating Discipleship

Innovating Discipleship by Will Mancini

Innovating Discipleship is the first book I have released since Church Unique. It is a read in one hour kind of book at 85 pages,  But my hope is that it will change how you read for a lifetime.

I am grateful for some of the first folks to review the book. Here is what pastors are saying:

  • Truly one of the best books I’ve read on ministry development. – Doug Murphy (read full review)
  • You need books that will grow you and stretch you. You need books that will challenge you and set your heart aflame. Will Mancini’s latest book accomplishes all of this and more. – David Bowman (read full review)
  • Clear, concise, creative insights to guide people through change in the direction of a church. An excellent model for innovation. – Steve Conway
    Innovating Discipleship Cover
  • No matter how you say it…your church’s scorecard, aim, dashboard, metrics, what you count…will be better defined by reading and processing this content as a team. I have shared it with key leaders in my church context and everyone of them—staff, elders, key leaders—agree this is incredibly helpful. – Jason Stewart
  • Will Mancini delivers again on a book to challenge church leaders to think outside the box – Jim Caldwell
  • Will Mancini wrote a definitive work for churches to be clear on their mission, vision, and values when he wrote THE CHURCH UNIQUE. Now, he challenges all churches to engage in true disciple-making in INNOVATING DISCIPLESHIP. A must-read for churches serious about disciple-making! – Cheryl Stouffer
  • I feel it was a great read for any ministry or overseer in the church today. You may find that you don’t want to change anything or need to change a ton, but this short read will ask you questions that will help you understand steps you may need to take. – Ryan Charest
  • My copy is a little bit of a mess.  Underlined.  Starred.  Dog-eared with a broken spine.  My copy looks like I’ve had it much longer than I have.  Packed with keen insights, if you’re looking for the truth about your current situation and more importantly, what and where your next steps could be…I highly recommend that you pick up your own copy. – Mark Howell  (read full review)

The best way to pick up a copy is right here.

If you have read the book, I would love to hear your thoughts. What was most helpful? What was unclear? What questions do you still have?


December 25, 2013

#7 on the Ministry Vision and Planning 2014 Countdown: 7 Practices for Keeping Jesus at the Center of Church Staff

Will Mancini's Gospel Centered Church vision and planning

Merry Christmas everyone! This post is about keeping baby Jesus in the middle of our “daily mangers” all year long.

Before my ministry path took me down the consulting road, I served as a pastor of spiritual formation. My first love, theologically speaking, is sanctification. Most of my motivation for going to seminary was to learn how to walk with God (I know, maybe not the best place to learn that). I often couldn’t wait to get my coursework done, in order to devour the “spiritual reading” of the scores of mystics and saints from centuries past.

As a guy that most people put in the “organizational box” the roots of my org-based work come from my passion for gospel-centered spiritual formation. For example, I  assert that there is no church vision that is not a discipleship vision first, and there is no discipleship vision that is not a Gospel vision first. With the recent popular emphasis on Gospel centrality, i.e, the need for “the explicit Gospel” to use Matt Chandler’s phrase, I thought it would be helpful to look at vision and planning this year through the lens of strengthening our emotional connection to the Gospel. How do we rely more substantially on Jesus and the power of His Good News as we do our planning as a church?

#1 Model more prayer time for the adoration of Jesus

How you pray reveals much. And how you pray is an act of leadership. If you are like me, prayer time can naturally drift toward pragmatic stuff of the organization or the unceasing needs of our people. Why not mark your planning time, and team gathering moments early this year with a more lavish experience of praise and exaltation of Jesus. Make sure to prepare your heart first and model this with genuine passion.

#2 Identity and take responsibility for the organizational-cultural idols within your church

It’s easily to rely on ourselves when it comes to “feeling good about church” and being satisfied with our job performance. In each culture there are unique expressions of what the leaders may rely on. For example:

  • Creativity and recent attendance momentum
  • Flagship standing in the denomination
  • Hitting  a point of financial sustainability as a young church
  • Success of a new service or program or campus
  • Your prior reputation at a previous church
  • Financial security as a church

What are you tempted to add to the Gospel in order to make your church work? What could you be trying to substitute for the Gospel as the functional driver of life-change? Please be assured that there is some answer to these questions. Your opportunity as the leader is to identify them, take responsibility for your role in sustaining them and then encouraging personal and group repentance.

#3 Repent more often and more visibly as a leader with your leaders

This is a tricky one as many leaders have no category for this kind of leadership. It is very freeing once you give it a try. Simply put, you want to find opportunities, at the appropriate “levels” and places to reveal your struggles as a leader and confess your sins as a human being. Remember its not about you or even your leadership- its about the Gospel. One obstacle to taking the Gospel more seriously is taking ourselves too seriously. And the Gospel will have no life and vitality in the organization if the leadership is not letting it expose and restore and give hope amidst the daily grind.

#4 Recalibrate your leadership language

Whatever we love will show itself through the sophistication of our language. I love to mountain bike and I love to fish for smallmouth bass in rivers. I would be glad to unpack the vocabulary of cadence, 29″ wheels or head tube angles. I can go all day talking about Rapala and Tiny Torpedo lures, 6-poind test or  the pound-for-pound thrill of landing a fish after a topwater hit.

So how is your Gospel fluency? More importantly how do practice using gospel images and phrases each day? How often do you make the Gospel explicit? Here is a powerful reference called “Atonement Grammars” from Tim Keller to get you started. Here is a free book summary from our SUMS tool for Keller’s Center Church. 

#5 Cultivate urgency

Where the Gospel is clear and strong, urgency will be felt. How can you call your staff or volunteer leaders to respond? How can you mark planning retreats or staff meetings not only with hope but with a sense courage? For example, instead of just talking about a partnership with a local ministry, why not go there, pray for them and give to them and THEN discuss a potential partnership with your staff. As the leader you can create and model a Gospel-centered bias for action.

#6 Invite new accountability

I am amazed and encouraged by the common thread of interest in Gospel-centrality among staff throughout the country. Why not find a buddy to check in with once a month for ideas and encouragement? I bet everyone reading this post has a friend or two at another church or ministry who would enjoy a twelve-month partnership to this end.

 #7 Read together as leaders

This year you may want to allocate more time to reading through the gospels. The YouVersion Bible App has a reading plan for this.  A great recent book to use (that actually discusses gospel-centered culture in church) is Creature of the Word by Matt Chandler, Eric Geiger and Josh Patterson. Here is a link to some free tools our SUMS free book summary.

July 10, 2013

Larry Osborne’s Three Mission Essentials

Screen Shot 2013-07-10 at 9.33.27 AM

My friend, Larry Osborne, leads North Coast Community Church with a group of gifted leaders. I enjoy his writing as much as any pastor who writes on leadership. This October, he releases a book entitled, Innovations Dirty Little Secret. (I just sent an endorsement after pre-reading the book.) Whether you like the title or not, this book is worth getting for the chapter on mission and the short section on vision alone.

In short, there are very few books that tie organizational clarity to practical aspects of innovation in a ministry context.

Here are three essentials he talks about for mission, with a chapter subtitle, “How clarity accelerates innovation.” Larry writes that mission must be:

  • Ruthlessly Honest
  • Widely Known
  • Broadly Accepted

Here are some snippets


First, to be useful, a mission statement must be ruthlessly honest. It should reflect your organization’s passionate pursuit, not merely your wishful thinking, your marketing slogans, or a spirit of political correctness. Anything less is disingenuous. And worthless. It doesn’t take long for people inside and outside an organization to recognize what the real priorities are. If your mission statement says one thing but all of your decisions and actions pursue something else, the predictable result will be cynicism and confusion.


A second trait of a powerful mission statement is that it’s widely known. Even if it’s ruthlessly honest and laser focused, if it’s too wordy and complex to remember, it’s pretty much useless. To impact the daily decisions of an organization, a mission statement must be easily remembered and repeated ad nauseam—and then repeated again. When a mission statement is so complex and wordy that no one remembers what it says without stopping to re-read it, there’s not much chance that daily decisions will be made in light of it or even align with it. Too long to remember is too long to be useful.


In the early days of a startup, it’s easy to gain broad acceptance of your mission. If it’s genuine and clearly stated, you’ll attract people who agree with it and you will repel those who don’t. That’s why so many startup teams have a Camelot-like sense of unity.

But it’s difficult to maintain that sense of unity and broad acceptance of the mission over time. As organizations grow and mature, there’s almost always some measure of mission creep. It’s inevitable. New staff and new leaders subtly redefine the mission in terms of their own personal perspectives, preferences, or the position they have within the organization. And those subtle shifts add up. Eventually, many organizations end up with competing silos, each with a slightly different.


A clear and memorable mission statement will tell you what to feed and what to starve, what to focus on and what to ignore. It will give you a framework by which to judge success and failure.

Without mission clarity t’s easy to be seduced by every innovative idea or proposal that appears. Especially if something is novel, has been successful elsewhere or promises to make a solid short-term profit. But over the long haul, if something doesn’t take us toward our mission, it takes us away from our mission, even if it’s a great idea and a potential game-changing innovation elsewhere.

It’s hard to hit the bull’s-eye when it’s a moving target, or when everyone thinks it’s a different target, or no one knows for sure what the target is.


Making disciples in a healthy church environment


June 11, 2013

4 Free Book Summaries for Church Leaders

If you’ve not yet heard of our free book summaries, I want to introduce you to SUMS. These are FREE book summaries from authors like Thom Rainer, Eric Geiger, Andy Stanley, Matt Chandler, and Reggie McNeal. Not only are these book summaries – SUMS – short and complete, they also include Go Ahead actions from our Auxano Navigators for practical, you-can-do-this application in your church!

Click below to download these 4 SUMS immediately. And, inside each SUMS, you’ll find Sharing buttons so you can send them to your friends on Twitter and Facebook. I love serving the Kingdom with these high-quality resources!

SimpleChurch_SUMS_smClick here to get the SUMS of Simple Church, by Dr. Thom S. Rainer and Eric Geiger.

Simple Church is designed around a straightforward and strategic process that moves people through the stages of spiritual growth. The leadership and the church are clear about the process (clarity) and are committed to executing it. The process flows logically (movement) and is implemented in each area of the church (alignment).

Deep and Wide by Andy StanleyClick here to get the SUMS of Deep and Wide, by Andy Stanley.

As the title Deep and Wide indicates, Andy Stanley thinks that a healthy local church can be, and should be, both deep and wide. It’s not either/or. It’s both/and. Local churches should be characterized by deep roots and wide reaches. Church should be theologically sound and culturally relevant. The church should be bold in its proclamation and winsome in its approach.

Creature of the WordClick here to get the SUMS of Creature of the Word, by Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson, and Eric Geiger.

The Reformers viewed the gospel as not merely one thing among many in the life of a church but rather the means by which the church exists. In twelve chapters, the authors provide practical steps toward forming a Jesus-centered church whose goal is to have its theology, culture, and practice completely saturated in the gospel.

Present Future by Reggie McNealClick here to get the SUMS of Present Future, by Reggie McNeal.

The Present Future is written for congregation leaders, pastors, and church staffs as“polemical volume” aimed to provoke “conversations that lead to action, to risk, to rediscovery of mission.” McNeal argues the prevalent North American church model has “largely forsaken its missional covenant with God to be a part of kingdom expansion.” He sees and explores six new realities he hopes can reshape the North American Christian movement.

SUMS are free resources provided to church leaders every other week through The Vision Room, powered by Auxano. To sign up to receive SUMS in your email Inbox, subscribe by clicking here.

April 19, 2013

Why Faith Wasn’t Meant to be Safe – Vince Antonucci’s Renegade Book ($0.99 Today Only)

Today I am recommending a book by one of our team members, Vince Antonucci: Renegade: Your Faith Isn’t Meant To Be Safe.

Here are some thoughts from Vince and a great story to give you a taste of Vince’s style and background.

It’s a book about this kind of life – the kind of life Jesus and Jackie Robinson inspire me to live. Today I’m a pastor near the Las Vegas strip, which is definitely out of the ordinary. I’m not sure I live at a higher level everyday, but I am trying.

My hope is that Renegade will help people connect with Jesus in a way that moves them toward extraordinary lives. I’m so eager to see this happen, I teamed up with my publisher to sell the ebook version for 99 cents from April 12-19 in honor of Jackie Robinson, who is celebrated in the newly released movie 42.

I hope you’ll pick it up, and if you do I’d love to hear what you think. You can email me here.

GREAT STORY – How Jackie Robinson Saved My Life

I grew up in a verbally abusive home. My father’s violent tirades were like heart-seeking missiles. And if my father, someone who was obligated to love me, couldn’t love me—if he couldn’t find anything special in me, I reasoned I must be defective.

I needed a place to escape, and I found it in baseball. I tell people baseball was my first love, and I mean it. From age six I was watching games on TV, memorizing statistics on the backs of baseball cards, playing out imaginary games with my glove and tennis ball in the backyard—all of this helped me escape my father… Read More

Vince Antonucci is the founder and lead pastor of Verve, an innovative church plant for the unchurched near the Las Vegas strip. Vince’s passion is creatively communicating biblical truth to help people find God. He blogs at www.vinceantonucci.com and speaks and coaches for Auxano.com. He is the author of I Became a Christian and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt, Guerrilla Lovers, and Renegade. All three of his books are available in ebook form for 99 cents April 12-19, 2013.