February 13, 2016

Transform Every Ministry Meeting with One Big Idea (#SUMS Edition 1.8)

Ministry MeetingsBlog readers please note: Starting in 2016, I will be routinely posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders.  SUMS 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 editions per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

>>> You can purchase a subscription to SUMS Remix here >>>

So how can you transform every ministry meeting with one big idea? It starts with understanding that every organization and every team experiences drift to see meetings as the work, rather than as a support tool for the work Here is the way we unpacked it last year in SUMS Remix edition 1.8.

Solution #3: Design meetings for one purpose: to support decisions.


How many times have you dreaded going to a meeting either because you viewed it as a waste of time or because you weren’t prepared?

Read This Before Our Next Meeting not only explains what’s wrong with “the meeting,” and meeting culture, but suggests how to make meetings more effective, efficient, and worthy of attending. It assesses when it’s necessary to skip the meeting and get right to work.

Read This Before Our Next Meeting is the call to action you (or your boss) need to create the organization that does the meaningful work it was created to do.


The profound tragedy of meetings is that everyone feels a benefit from calling a meeting but few of us benefit from attending.

Church leaders know in a real and visceral way that they have too many meetings, and too many of those meetings are bad! The resulting broken meeting culture is changing how teams focus, what they focus on, and most important, what decisions are made.

Ministry is a complex beast, and meetings can help tame the beast – but only meetings that insure intelligent decisions are made and to confirm that our teams are collaborating together in carrying out those decisions.

Church ministry teams don’t need standard, mediocre meetings that are all about making excuses and engaging in internal politics. It’s those types of meetings that keep leaders from doing the real ministry work they were called to do.

Traditional meetings are treated as just another form of communication. They’re just another item to be included in the same category as e-mail, memos, and phone calls. Meetings are too expensive and disruptive to justify using them for the most common types of communication, like making announcements, clarifying issues, or even gathering intelligence.

Seven Principles of the Modern Meeting

  1. The Modern Meeting convenes to support a decision that has already been made. The Modern Meeting focuses on the only two activities worth convening for: conflict and coordination.
  1. The Modern Meeting moves fast and ends on schedule. Traditional meetings seem to go on forever, with no end in sight. Strong deadlines force parties to resolve the hard decisions necessary for progress.
  1. The Modern Meeting limits the number of attendees. If you have no strong opinion, have no interest in the outcome, and are not instrumental for any coordination that needs to take place, you aren’t needed in the meeting.
  1. The Modern Meeting rejects the unprepared. The agenda should clearly state the problem, the alternatives, and the decision. It should outline exactly the sort of feedback requested, and it should end with a statement of what this meeting will deliver if it’s successful. Anything that’s not on the agenda doesn’t belong in the meeting.
  1. The Modern Meeting produces committed action plans. These plans should include at least the following: 1) What actions are we committing to? 2) Who is responsible for each action? 3) When will these actions be completed?
  1. The Modern Meeting refuses to be informational. Reading memos is mandatory. Teams must share complete thoughts that are actually worth reading and responding to – and everyone must read it all in advance.
  1. The Modern Meeting works only alongside a culture of brainstorming. These sessions are dedicated to the creation of possibilities, a place where the imagination is allowed to run free and generate a plethora of ideas, from which innovation can be born.

Al Pittampalli, Read This Before Our Next Meeting


Management genius Peter Drucker said that meetings were by definition a concession to deficient organization. Teams can either meet or work, but they can’t do both at the same time.

It’s time for your ministry team to do real work through a revised meeting structure by taking the following actions:

  • Distribute the Seven Principles of the Modern Meeting listed above and ask your team members to review and reflect on them for the purpose of supporting the decision to establish a Modern Meeting process.
  • Schedule a one-hour time in which each member of your team will prepare concerns and solutions to implementing the Modern Meeting process in ministry setting.
  • Following this meeting, develop a set of action plans to implement the Modern Meeting process for a three-month trial period.
  • Throughout the trial period, constantly reinforce progress and concerns via information shared among all team members.
  • As a part of the trial, schedule weekly brainstorming sessions to help support the Modern Meeting process (see #7 above).
  • At the conclusion of the trial period, decide and commit on following – or not following – the Modern Meeting process.

Taken from SUMS Remix Edition 1.8, March 2015

>>> You can purchase a subscription to SUMS Remix here >>>

February 3, 2016

Andy Stanley’s Killer Secret to Church Fundraising (#SUMS Edition 1.7)

Church Fundraising

Blog readers please note: Starting in 2016, I will be routinely posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders.  SUMS 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 editions per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

>>> You can purchase a subscription to SUMS Remix here >>>

So what is Andy Stanley’s Killer Secret to Church Fundraising? It is using a powerful biblical principle and metaphor to reframe the believer’s opportunity to live a generous life. Here is the way we unpacked it last year in SUMS Remix:

PROBLEM STATEMENT  of Edition 1.7:  We have leaders who are reluctant to do another campaign. 

You have probably done capital campaigns before and many church goers are tired of the same old-school campaigns year after year. (By the way, that’s why we started Auxano campaigns as a vision-based resourcing service.)

Rallying people to a better future is not new.  Building leaders and directing energy is baseline to the human enterprise. But the church is still the HARDEST PLACE ON PLANET EARTH to focus. Whether it’s a breakout of congregational opinions, the rampant “sin of niceness” or a plague of risk aversion, getting the vision done is more fantasy than testimony.

Solution 1: Focus on the dynamics of fear vs. faith by using the biblical image of sowing seeds.


Fields of Gold is a practical and inspirational book based on the principle of sowing and reaping. If we sow fear, what will be our harvest? And conversely, if we sow faith, what will we grow?

In the book Andy Stanley unpacks our irrational fears about money, helping us to discover that generous giving is actually an invitation for our heavenly Father to get involved in our finances and resupply us with enough seed to sow generously throughout our lifetime.


Many people would like to be generous givers. But the realities of steadily rising prices of everyday goods, shrinking retirement funds, and an uncertain world economy give us pause. The questions come like a rushing whirlwind, burying good intentions:

  • How much can I afford to give?
  • What if I give away too much?
  • What if there s not enough left for me?

As Christians, we know that we should give but sometimes it’s so hard to take that step of faith and let go when it comes to our finances. Under the growing pressures to make ends meet each month, it’s easy to become irrational in our thinking about God, his faithfulness, and our role as stewards of his resources.

That line of irrational thinking quickly leads to a fear that obscures both our thinking and the facts of how we know God wants us to handle our finances.

If we truly believe that God is who he says he is we have no reason to fear. Doesn’t it make sense to trust the God of the Universe with your finances? Isn’t it time to put aside the worry and start living in confidence?

When you begin to view your wealth from God’s perspective, you’ll see that the thing to fear isn’t giving away too much, but sowing too little.

It’s important to realize that fear and faith often go hand in hand. By nature, when you pursue a growing faith you increase your exposure to potential fears.

It’s no accident that the Bible addresses this condition head-on. There’s no drought when it comes to verses designed to help us let go of our fears and embrace our God-given calling to be generous stewards rather than fearful owners. In Matthew 6:33, Jesus assures us that when we seek His kingdom first with our seed, we need not fear being wiped out: … “he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” (NLT)

When you begin to view your wealth from God’s perspective, you’ll see that the thing to fear isn’t giving away too much, but sowing too little.

You see, when we respond in fear to an invitation from God, we forfeit the reward of being faithful stewards. Sowing in faith results in an eternal crop. Cowering in fear yields empty fields.

Stepping outside your comfort zone is not careless irresponsibility, but a necessary act of obedience.

– Andy Stanley, Fields of Gold


Fear and faith are parallel concepts that must live constantly in tension. Doubt and indecision are actually ingredients for both our fears and our faith. If everything was a certainty, where does faith come in? Our faith is engaged when we stand on the edge of the unknown. By relying less on the visible and more on the invisible, we begin to exercise our faith. And in that moment of faith, we often are vulnerable to fear. When it comes to giving, many Christians know they should give, but our fear of “what could be” overtakes our faith.

The answer to this challenge comes in the biblical metaphor of sowing. God provides for us (seeds). But seeds weren’t made for holding; they were made for sowing. Unless we sow our seeds, we will never know the harvest they will bring.

Overcoming the tension of our fear and faith requires a simple, but profound change in our concept of ownership. Answer these two questions:

  • Who really owns your possessions?
  • Who’s calling the shots for you financially?

If we truly understand and believe that God owns it all, we have no basis for fear. And, if God also is the source of all our wealth, and is in charge its increase and decrease, then we have no reason not to give.

The path to a secure financial future is to get God involved as soon as possible. The sooner you become a sower of seeds and not a hoarder, the sooner you will reap the harvest.

Once we realize that it really is better to give than to receive, there’s no limit to what God will do with our gifts.

Taken from SUMS Remix 7, published February 2015.

>>> You can purchase a subscription to SUMS Remix here >>>

December 26, 2015

How 12 Templates for Church Vision Will Transform Your Leadership

12 templates for church growth from God Dreams
The 12 Templates for church vision as a resource made the subtitle of God Dreams— my first major book release since Church Unique in 2008. God Dreams is toolbox for installing a visionary planning model in your church. The master tool of the book is called the Horizon Storyline and it fits inside of the Vision Frame–more on that to come.


The Horizon Storyline will engage your thinking on church vision 5-20 years into the future depending on the age and life stage of your ministry. When it comes to thinking this far away, I have found that it is very difficult getting people on the same page. Vision that distance into the future can seem fuzzy or unnecessary to think about.  The 12 templates were designed as an on-ramp to vibrant imagination and dialogue as a leadership team.

Think of the 12 templates as a vision typology. When believers sit together and dream about the impact they want to have in the world, I believe any dream can be ultimately defined by one of the templates. It’s church vision made that simple.

In fact, that’s how the templates emerged in my mind. About 4 years ago I had crossed the 10,000 hour mark of facilitating with church teams. I began to see the patterns crystallize in my mind. We have been using these tools for about 4 years at Auxano, and a year ago, I decided that we needed to put it in a book. The visuals and definitions of the 12 templates are available on the free download below.


Most teams select and relate the top two templates for their church. For example, New Break in San Diego uses the “leadership multiplication leading to targeted transformation” as their picture idea. From there you build out a vivid description of your long-range vision horizon. (God Dreams walks through this process). In the end, the transformative nature of having a long-range vision comes from the brand new ability to:

  1. Increase your confidence as a leader
  2. Shape the destiny of the whole congregation
  3. Create deeper meaning for individuals
  4. Cultivate heroic sacrifice among people
  5. Focus the resource base of the church 
  6. Guide the development of long-term strategy

The state of church vision is so anorexic with regard to this kind of long-range thinking that it’s hard to recognize it any more. We are trafficking in such general ideas, we no longer recognize the lack of meaning of anything beyond sermon series planning or the next annual budget. Where does that leave our people? They are not emotionally connected to anything that our church represents or the impact we can have, beyond the next weekend service or small group.

Let me ask you: What kind of dramatic gospel impact will your church have in your community, in your lifetime? 

Download the 12 Templates Overview

Templates that ADVANCE (arrow)

  • Geographic (Gospel) Saturation
  • Targeted Transformation
  • People-group Penetration

Templates that RESCUE (cross)

  • Institutional Renovation
  • Need Adoption
  • Crisis Mobilization

Templates that BECOME (circle)

  • Spiritual Formation
  • Presence Manifestation
  • Obedient Anticipation

Templates that OVERFLOW (wave)

  • Leadership Multiplication
  • Cultural Replication
  • Anointing Amplification
December 13, 2014

Last Day Founding Subscriber Offer to My Blog Readers for SUMS Book Summary Tool

SUMS Book Summaries by Will Mancini

A few weeks ago, I shared that you would have the first opportunity to become a founding subscriber to SUMS reMix. This book summary tool is the most innovative content resource I know of in the church space.

Many of you have already received an e-mail reminding you of the benefits for founding subscribers and the instructions to sign-up. But I wanted to remind you with another post if you haven’t acted yet.

In a nutshell you will receive:

  • 50% off regular subscription price, lock-in for life
  • 3 additional Christmas gift subscriptions, totally free (give you boss or buddies in ministry the gift of insight for one year)
  • The complete library of two years of SUMS in one PDF (52 books)
  • Exclusive future offers and free content

Remember the SUMS reMix will come every other week to your inbox:

  • Designed around a practical challenge all church leaders face
  • Providing 3 solutions to that challenge from 3 books
  • Giving you immediate action steps for you and your staff
  • Resulting in more insight, progress and credibility in your ministry leadership

Imagine reading and acting on 78 books in one year, without having to read each book from cover to cover. Each book is handpicked, some ministry books and some business books, just for ministry leaders. Of course you can just click and purchase the books you want to go deeper with.

The 50% price is only $24.00 per year, or $2.00 per month.

You have today only before this offer extends to our entire SUMS subscriber list. Founding Subscribers are limited to the first 1,000 who sign up.

To get your discount use the code: founder2014

Become a Founding Subscriber Now!


November 26, 2014

The Four Deadly Sins of Emerging Church Leaders

4 Deadly Sins of Emerging Church Leaders by Steve Saccone

The following four sins are an excerpt from a TeamUp tool that helps your team engage key concepts for emerging church leaders around Steve Saccone’s book, Protege. You can download the TeamUp tool here.

Character is doing the right thing simply because it is the right thing to do, no matter the cost. That is the essence of true heroism, and the defining mark of a Christ-centered leader. Unfortunately, character is not required to be an effective leader. On the other hand, character is what makes a leader worth following—and it’s what gives people a compelling life to follow.

#1 – The Sin of Imitation: Envy

Envy is not only a deadly sin, but probably one of the most uncomfortable sins, especially for emerging leaders as they strive to distinguish themselves from everyone else. And sometimes it’s immensely difficult to distinguish the difference from personal development and imitation development. The pathway toward overcoming the sin of imitation involves the pursuit of living an original life, a pursuit all can attain, one we were in fact created to attain.

#2 –  The Sin of Performance: Self-Reliance

Every leader faces the challenge to produce or perform. Although this ambitious pursuit and intentional focus isn’t inherently wrong, I’m convinced that what ought to motivate us and what actually does motivate us gets all too blurry. The mindset of productivity is so pervasive in our culture that it can result in a subtle but critical shift in our approach to how we view and do ministry leadership and understand what great performance is really about.

#3 – The Sin of Overconfidence: Foolishness

Where do we draw the line between healthy confidence and unhealthy overconfidence? Where does the balance lie between knowing you have specific gifts to offer, and thinking you are better than you are? And how does knowing the difference actually make a difference? My experience shows me that ministry leaders don’t always seek the right kind of wisdom, thus maintaining characteristics of what the Scriptures call, “a fool,” which is where the sin of overconfidence leads us.

#4 – The Sin of Entitlement: Greed

Greed is a deadly sin because it takes more than it gives. It consumes rather than creates. It is never satisfied. What makes it worse is that greed is difficult to recognize and then acknowledge within yourself. As a result of going unchecked, greed begins to fuel and pollute our ambitions, the very ones that look good on the outside but wreck havoc in our leadership, marriage, ministry, and personal lives.