April 19, 2014

Welcome to “No Church” – 4 Steps To Reversing Your Negative Church Messaging

Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 12.12.30 PMAlmost without exception, churches somewhere utilize negative messaging for very practical reasons. After all, someone parking in the wrong spot can create havoc. So it’s quite natural to put up a sign that says, “No Parking Along Curb.”

But is that the only way to get the intended result?


Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 7.47.14 AMThe question is worth asking because studies show the impact of negative verses positive messaging on the brain. Negative messaging narrows your thought activity and focuses on actions related to the message. Positive messages on the other hand, broaden your thinking and create openness. More on this topic, from The Science of Positive Thinking.

So the big question is what kind of brain patterns do you want to create for people as they enter your church an prepare to worship the all-powerful and all-present living God and creator of the universe?

Let’s play this out for a guest coming to your church. What happens when they hit a cascade of messages like these:

  • No parking
  • Do not enter
  • For church members only
  • No skateboarding
  • No rollerblading
  • No bicycles
  • No scooters
  • No food or drink allowed
  • No talking
  • No trespassing
  • No running
  • No mobile phones
  • No signs allowed
  • No posters
  • No advertising
  • No parking along the curb

Essentially you create what we call the “No Church” church dynamic. Enough negative messaging and you might as well be saying…Screen Shot 2014-04-19 at 12.00.27 PM

  • Don’t come here
  • Don’t relax
  • Don’t worship
  • Don’t find God

Sounds laughable, doesn’t it. It wouldn’t if you could feel the influence of multi-stages of negative messaging from the perspective of someone totally new to church.

What can you do about this dilemma? Four things:

Step #1: Inventory your negative messages. List every one, walking from your entrance of your church to the worship center or sanctuary.

Step #2: Ask how important the prohibition message really is. I once worked with a church that prohibited the use of the ball field on their campus. Is that really worth it?

Step #3: Consider a positive message instead. This might not be obvious at first glance, but explore options as a team. Can a “No parking along curb” sign be replaced with a “Please keep traffic flowing” sign?

Step #4:  Use your negative message  with a point of humor. Why not have fun if you must communicate a negative message? The classic illustration is the “Thou shalt not park here” sign. What other ideas have you seen?

And, if you have any other funny negative messages, please share!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 10, 2014

What’s Your Future Perfect Paradigm? Exploring a Powerful Ministry Tool

The future of the church

What if there was a simple way of thinking about your day today, that could radically transform it?

The term “future perfect paradigm” originates from the work of Stanley Davis in the eighties. He used the term as a framework in strategic planning. Even though the term may sound like just another cool way to talk about vision, Davis brought some unique and helpful thoughts to the study of vision and planning.

I will explore a few key ideas from Davis in a series of posts. In addition, I want to expose you to some of Robert Clinton’s adaptation of Davis’s work as the maven of Christian leadership “stages” and timeline thinking.

Awesome stuff- I promise.

But let’s get started right now with a definition:

Paradigm: a controlling perspective which allows one to perceive and understand reality.

The Future Perfect Paradigm is simply looking at everything today through the lens of a powerful future perspective. The more clear and powerful the future perspective, the greater the impact it can have on the way you look at today. 

Let’s unpack that a bit more. Put on your grammatical hat from Greek class and think of the future-perfect tense. From a time perspective, the present is the past of the future. So imagine having such a powerful image of the future that the present is transformed. It is transformed because the present must lead to that future.

One illustration is the world-class athlete that will fully envision the final performance before the event. Clinton explains, “They will actually go through the event twice, once in their mind—a future perfect way of thinking, and then when it actually happens.” It’s not that hard to image how decisions, priorities, practice and discipline are all shaped by a the substance of a necessary future that has been well defined. Now read Hebrews 11 and consider the biblical concept of faith—”the assurance of things hoped for, the convictions of things not seen.”  Pretty strong connect to the future perfect paradigm, wouldn’t you say?

Stay tuned and we will take a look at how this adds some new meaning to the work of vision planning and vision casting.

What are some of the very cool things you can look forward to?

  • How about a summary table of the “future perfect” vision of thirteen biblical leaders to get us started.
  • Then I want to take a look at one of my favorite ideas for the visionary- “beforemath.” Beforemath is the kissin cousin to a term you already know- “aftermath.”
  • Finally we will look at Clinton’s five stages toward developing a future perfect paradigm.
February 22, 2014

7 Killer Lessons from Derwin Gray’s School of Ministry Vision Casting

Derwin Grey on Church on Church Vision CastingI have the privilege of spending lots of time thinking about, reading about and listening to others talk about vision. Rarely do I find so much packed into one learning experience as I did with Derwin Gray who recently spoke at a Velocity.

Derwin is a former professional football player who leads Transformation Church. I have arranged fifteen quotes from his talk that boil down the essence of Derwin’s philosophy. These ideas are so clear in articulation and comprehensive in scope,  they actually create a mini-course in one post.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

  • Effectively casting vision never comes to an end.  It is a discipline.
  • You never leave the fundamentals.  You just drive deeper and deeper into them.
  • We are ruthless in our communication of the vision over and over and over again.
  • You cannot cast a vision that has not cast a spell over you.
  • Your ethos, culture must communicate the vision.
  • If you want to know what your vision is just look around.
  • Do your systems and processes move like an arrow to make your vision sharper?
  • Vision is the God-inspired ability to see a future that does not yet exist, but should.  This future is so Messiah-exalting and life-giving that people run into the future and drag back to the present.
  • What is not, but should be, according to the glory of God?
  • An effective vision casting has four parts – The Problem.  The Solution.  Why The Vision Must Be Implemented.  Why The Vision Must Be Implemented NOW.
  • Do you really believe your church can give a foretaste of the New Heaven and New Earth.
  • Every member has a role to play.  I am calling them into their destiny.
  • Every human being wants to be part of a cause beyond them.
  • The essence of leadership is embodying what you want people to do.
  • What sense would it make to learn the plays but not play the game?

Think for a minute, how consuming the very idea of vision is for Derwin. When we read these quotes, we gain all of these fundamental lessons about vision. Here is a restatement of Derwin’s ideas in seven killer principles.

#1   Vision is a daily pursuit that you never outgrow but only grow deeper in.

#2   Vision is inseparable from culture and therefore it connects to every other act of leadership, decision-making and communication. 

#3   Vision is not a organizational idea first but a human idea

#4   Vision is nothing if it’s not rooted in human problem and growing toward God’s glory. 

#5   Vision is a waste of time if it doesn’t involve everyone today.

#6   Vision must be lived as it is heard or it won’t really be heard.

#7   Vision gives meaning to the daily immersion of activity.

What else strikes you form these quotes?

February 8, 2014

What is Break-Thru Clarity in Ministry?

Vision and Clarity in Ministry

Break-thru clarity is a simple thing that makes a huge impact in your life.  It’s a powerful thing that will dramatically change your ministry.

Most of our days are filled with the daily stuff. And the daily stuff is always pushing you here and pulling you there.  Sunday is coming. People are needy. There’s never enough time. Church life goes on.

Amidst this daily rhythm—sometimes flow and sometimes grind—we find the beauty and blessing of break-thru clarity. Maybe it’s easiest to describe what it feels like when you have it.

  • It’s the power of seeing the same things in a whole new way.
  • It’s the surge of energy that rushes through you and doesn’t seem to stop.
  • It’s the freedom of perspective that suddenly makes prioritization easy.
  • It’s the satisfaction that comes when the staffing puzzle finally make sense.
  • It’s the confidence of a much more vivid 3-year vision.
  • It’s the thrill of a team that wins, again and again.

When God brings you break-thru clarity, nothing feels better.

But for most of us, too much time has passed since our last break-thru. The funny thing about break-thru is that we forget what it feels like; we forget how bad we need it.

How does this happen? Once we taste a little bit of success in ministry, which is always nice, there is plenty to work on. Something is going well and that is good enough. We stay busy. We start something new. We grow. We start another thing. We hire another staff person.

Or maybe you inherit a church with a legacy or we attain a position with prior influence. There’s a lot to protect, a budget to steward. There are expectations from the past and assumptions about the future built into every conversation.

The end result is the same. While you read this there are a hundred other things to read and a thousand other things to do. And you aren’t the only one person in the equation. Your church has other leaders, lots of volunteers and other staff.  They too have thousand things to do to.

 This collective activity becomes the enemy of break-thru clarity. Just imagine…

  • When a potential member asks a question like “Who are we as a church?” or  “Where is God taking us?” what do you say?
  • If someone throws a curveball into the conversation like,  “Are we really making disciples?”  how do you respond?
  • When an elder asks, with a hint of sarcasm “What is our priority for this year?” What’s the next word out of your mouth?

Break-thru clarity is about living and leading with answers to questions like these.  Break-thru clarity is both something you experience and something you have as a team.

What is break-thru clarity?

It is a God-given idea, well understood and skillfully articulated, that brings notable and immediate progress toward realizing your vision.

A simple conviction drives us on the Auxano team: Life is short enough and ministry is hard enough not to have break-thru clarity.  We exist because break-thru does not; or at least not often enough.

When’s the last time your team experienced break-thru clarity?  Where in your ministry could you use break-thru today?

To connect with me and the team at Auxano about break-thru clarity, fill out this short form below.

Fill out my online form.

December 28, 2013

Ministry Vision & Planning Series: Three Disciple Making Catalysts in the Life of Jesus (#6 of the 2014 Countdown)

Jesus the disciple maker It’s easy for the church’s disciple-making mission to get cluttered with lots of programmatic stuff. So as you look ahead to the next year, try refreshing your conviction for disciple-making by looking to the Master himself.

In each of the three synoptic gospels we see a different scene in the life of Jesus just before he calls his twelve disciples. Each snapshot, I believe,  reveals a unique aspect of both the heart of Jesus and his earthly-eternal kingdom strategy.

 Snapshot #1: The Great Opportunity Meets a Great Shortage (Matthew 9:35-38)

Before Jesus calls the twelve from Matthew’s perspective, we see the compassion of Jesus for the crowds. As he looked over masses (sheep without a shepherd) he observes that “the harvest is plenty but the workers are few.” His last command before selecting his inner circle is to pray earnestly to the Lord of the Harvest to send out laborers. In the light of the urgent opportunity Jesus begins investing deeply into the Twelve. The first catalyst is the massive gap between the need and the manpower.

 Snapshot #2: Building the Infrastructure Not the Popularity (Mark 3:7-12)

Mark shows us a different angle of Jesus’ motive just before he appoints the Twelve. In this passage he repeats the phrase “great crowd” showing for the first time the sheer volume of people who were responding to Jesus. Not only that, he shows the intensity of their pursuit by explaining how the people were “pressing around him” and how they needed to escape in a boat “lest they be crushed.” If that wasn’t enough even the demons cried out that he was the Son of God. What was Jesus final act before appointing the twelve? Jesus strictly ordered them NOT to make him known.

Why in the world did Jesus come to earth if he wanted to lower the volume of his identity and mission? Why would he intentional minimize his platform? The answer is simple. He wasn’t building a stage and a audience, he was building a people movement. And the disciple-making infrastructure was being threatened by the quick popularity.  Thus he focuses even more on the Twelve. The second catalyst is the threat of a shallow and wide ministry. 

Snapshot #3: The Weight of Life’s Brevity on Earth (Luke 6:6-11)

In Luke’s snapshot before selecting the Twelve,  we see a simple healing scene. This is where Jesus heals the man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. It’s also the first time we see the scribes Pharisees filled with fury to the point that they begin plotting what they are going to do with Jesus. This is the fountainhead of the death plot that would end Jesus’ physical opportunity on planet earth to be a disciple-maker. The next thing we see him doing is praying to the Father all night and then recruiting his core team.

The third catalyst is the recognition that you won’t be around forever.

What about you?

As you plan this year, how does Jesus disciple-making conviction, and especially these three catalysts, rescue you from a “program management” culture. Are you herding people through classes and events? Are you relying too much on  better preaching? Or do you have a robust, disciple-making strategy built around life-on-life investment, like Jesus.

Take these catalysts into your planning time:

  1. Helping people see the amazing opportunity of lost souls and recruiting them to pray for more harvest workers.
  2. Building the core with significant time investment before gathering the crowd.
  3. Being deeply aware of the finite window on earth to invest in others in light of eternity.