February 27, 2016

5 Reasons Why Disciples Need Ministry Tools More than Sermons

Will Mancini on Ministry Tools
The discipleship results of your ministry are not defined by content of your preaching alone.  One significant factor that impacts disciple-making is tool-making.  Unfortunately, you might not recall any seminary classes or conference breakouts on making ministry tools.

Why not? The simplest explanation is that we rely too much on teaching. As a result, we as pastors, do not become good at training and spend little time on toolmaking. In fact the average pastor rarely pursues improved competency as a trainer. But pastors go to great lengths— attending workshops, digesting sermons, and reading books— to become better preachers. 

Think about it for a minute: Is your church better characterized as a teaching center or a training center? Do you consider yourself more of a bible-communicator or a people-developer? When is the last time you thought about finding or making ministry tools?

I know what you want to say— “It’s both Will, why would you separate it?” Of course your intent is both to communicate well and see a disciple form as a result.  But I want to separate the two so that you can double check your assumptions and expectations about how people change and grow. Does your teaching provide the pathway toward the modeling, practicing, and evaluating of new life skills? Are you really helping people develop new life competencies in the way of Jesus?  Or are you just preaching?

One proof that you are good at training is the presence of ministry tools. What tools have you given to people lately through one of your sermon series? When was the last time you brainstormed with your team about a new ministry tool to create? If you have small group leaders in the church, what ministry tools have you provided for them in the last year?

What’s the bottom line? If you are not adding ministry tools to the lives of your people, you are not close to maximizing a disciple-making culture. You are probably not equipping people that much.

Before explaining why, let’s define what we mean by a tool. One definition reads:

Tool: A handheld device that aids in accomplishing a task. The basic definition brings to mind a hammer or screwdriver that you hold in your hand. The definition may expand if a tool doesn’t have to be literally handheld. Another definition reads: a device or implement used to carry out a particular function.

The term “device” broadens the range for disciple-making purposes. For example, the model prayer of Jesus was a device to train the disciples how to pray. Jesus used questions, metaphors and parables as devices or tools of disciple-making that weren’t “handheld” per se.

So what are examples of ministry tools? Here are five:

  • A church does a sermon on praying and provides a prayer journal (ministry tool) as people walk out the door.
  • A pastor preaches on missional living and creates a table tent (ministry tool- a triangle-shaped brochure that stands in the middle of the dinner table)  for family conversations designed to encourage the application of being better neighbors for the sake of the gospel.
  • A team codifies a definition (ministry tool) of what kind of disciple their church is designed to produce and then creates a self-assessment (ministry tool) to use in small groups.
  • A pastor uses a 4-question, gospel fluency matrix (ministry tool) –drawable on a napkin–to help the congregation apply the gospel to the daily fluctuations of sinful emotions and actions.
  • A bible study leader passes out a business card (ministry tool) with a daily bible reading schedule and three applications questions to ask for every passage of scripture.

This is a short list that begins to illustrate the endless possibilities of ministry tools. Keep in mind that I didn’t even reference the internet or digital devices that really explode the possibilities ministry tool-making.

Now that we have defined and illustrated what a ministry tool or device is, let’s get to the heart of the post. Why do disciples need ministry tools more than sermons? Why should we not rely on preaching alone if we are to train people to follow Jesus?  Here are five compelling reasons:

#1 – A ministry tool signifies importance.  A tool highlights the greater importance of the idea thus setting it up for application and helping stand out among the competing messages in every area of life. When a tool is introduced in the flow of communication, the idea behind the tool will trump every other idea. The tool immediately indicates the value of repeatability as well.

#2 – A ministry tool activates learning. A tool utilizes a part of human brain that is activated by a concrete object to hold and use, or an audio device to return to like a question or repeatable story. Again this sets up an important step toward application. It engages visual and kinesthetic learners.

#3 – A ministry tool guides application. This is the main idea. The tool itself provides a “how to” that can be practiced, repeated and eventually mastered. It shows the way and validates when action has been taken or not.  The device clarifies a step of implementation. In a way, a tool gently brings accountability to the table–every time I see the tool, I know whether or not I have used it.

#4 – A ministry tool creates energy. A tool helps people feel excited about ideas. It helps people win. And by the way, may pastors can unintentionally create a sense of failure for their people.  As people listen to sermons year after year, they oftentimes feel like they aren’t growing like they should. A tool can reverse that dynamic. It’s focuses application, so they can do it. And that gives pastors the opportunity to celebrate their new skill development. Then, even more energy is created!

#5 – A ministry tool reproduces training. A tool makes every person a trainer not just the pastor or preacher. As a leader, it’s not important what you can do; it’s important what you can duplicate. If you make a tool, it can outlast you and be passed from disciple to disciple to disciple until Jesus returns again.

This last principle has changed by personal conviction that I must spend time to make tools. In fact my two most important books (tools themselves) are Church Unique an God Dreams each of which cover how to create a master tool for church leadership, the Vision Frame and the Horizon Storyline, respectively.

Ministry tools- family tree trainingI would love to hear from you. What is your favorite ministry tool? What ministry tools have you created recently?

A final illustration of one of my favorites is a how-to PDF and video on creating a family tree. This tool comes from a short sermon series at Clear Creek Community Church, my home church. To help people gain perspective and apply the gospel to the brokenness of extended family dynamics, they encouraged everyone to practice writing out their family diagram.

May 23, 2015

7 Reasons Why Every Church Leader Should Consider Periscope, the New Social Tool

It’s only been eleven days since I heard about Periscope from one of Auxano’s newest navigators, Chris Rivers. We were doing a leadership training event at Elmbrook Church with 500 leaders discussing their new mission and values. In seconds,  Chris started live streaming the event and over 40 people joined in. Since then, I have broadcast 11 live events, averaging one per day. Yesterday, anyone could have watched 15 minutes of Auxano’s virtual team training. Last night anyone could have chatted with me about book writing, while I hosted a 15 minutes Q&A at 11 o’clock at night trying to stay awake for another few hours. (I have 14 days left to finish God Dreams, my fourth book.)

What is Periscope? It’a an insanely simple, live streaming tool that connects with your twitter account. (Twitter bought it for $100 million.) Whatever you live stream, people can comment on, and “heart” showing realtime interaction and engagement. Best of all, it archives your live streaming event for 24 hours so that you followers can watch later if they weren’t available.   Read more at Wired or TechCrunch.

So why should every church leader jump on the band wagon?

Let me say up front that I am not a tech guy and I don’t really pay close attention to all of the new stuff that comes out. I am an opportunistic guy, who sees patterns fast and far.  What periscope will become is actually mind numbing when you consider the possibilities.  I won’t unpack it in this post.

But I do want to urge you to get on this tool and start experimenting.  Here are at least seven reason why every church leader should consider periscope, the new social media tool. 


 #1 Every new social tool is a new opportunity to learn as a leader.

I know you are busy and you can’t get distracted by everything. But the benefits of this opportunity are huge. If you keep the perspective of periscope as a leadership tool and a learning tool it will help. Think of is this way— It’s more efficient and probably more fun than reading another leadership book.

#2 Your influence may dramatically increase if you are an early adopter with a tool that will be widespread.

You want to be in the know when the odometer turns and everyone is reset to zero. That’s right, everyone is at the starting line. And the first ones to use it will begin to have differentiated influence. And every day you wait, you get further behind.

 #3 Periscope doesn’t start from scratch, but leverages your current twitter following. 

Fortunately you are not turning a giant flywheel with no momentum, unless of course you are not on twitter. For many of you, jumping into periscope will enable you to connect with dozens of people due to its integration with twitter. Yup, more stuff to retweet!


The most important factors, of course, have to do with the gospel and your ministry calling.

#4 Periscope removes the greatest barrier to discipleship—opportunities for life modeling that don’t require physical presence.

You can teach what you know, but you reproduce what you are. Periscope is an amazing tool for life modeling. Think about it. You might teach or preach to a crowd once a week. But who gets to see you do family devotions? Who might want to peek in for 5 minutes to see where you have your God times? What’s better than seeing the mission trip live from a handful of people on the ground?

What did Jesus due when he came to earth? He modeled his life so that he could start a life-modeling chain reaction. When he left he provided his personal presence through the Holy Spirit. He distributed his presence through the incredible nature of the Trinity himself. In some ways that is the same multipliable opportunity with Periscope. Periscope has been called “consensual voyeurism.” I would encourage you to think about it as “ever-present modeling multiplication”

#5 Periscope expands how a mobile society can stay connected to your ministry events.

My first post in 2015 became popular as I discussed why you most committed people will attend church less frequently. Here is a tool to address that challenge. Why wouldn’t you want to have a distributed workforce of people showing your ministry events, shared experiences and God moments as a church? I can’t wait to see the applications for church communicators!

 #6 Periscope creates a new horizon of innovation opportunity for the almost 8 billion in the world. 

The mind blowing begins when you think of the modeling, teaching and training opportunities leveraged across a growing global population of digitally connected people.  If you want some fuel to throw on your imagination, consider reading this post on 8 Predictions for the world in 2025.

Do you ever get tired of the church lagging far behind the innovation curve? Again, here is an new opportunity to leap ahead.

#7 There will be tons of distracting and even evil stuff on Periscope, so let’s saturate it with the gospel! 

Enough said.

Are you on Periscope yet? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Oh and be sure to connect with me @willmancini. Periscope up!

December 28, 2014

12 Church Logos that Tell a Story (and Why Yours Should Too)

12 Church Logos that Tell a Story by Will Mancini

Auxano just released another TeamUP download that focuses on one of our six services: communication. As a “vision shop,” we believe that all vision should be communicated visually. This gorgeous, free PDF will share a little bit more about our philosophy of communication and how your design can elevate and demonstrate the unique work of God in your church. Christmas is a great time to remember that Jesus is the logos of God; that is, the word, the expression, the representation of Him. In the beginning was the logos and the logos was with God and the logos was God (John 1:1).

Here is a glimpses of the logos we will explore inside.

Auxano 12 Church Logos

Also included is a guide (we do this with all TeamUP downloads) that you can walk through with your church team. Be sure to forward this to your team for first of the year planning. Wouldn’t you like to take your communication to a whole new level in 2015?

Church logos teamUp

Download our newest free resource: TeamUP – 12 Church Logos That Tell a Story

November 22, 2014

Exclusive Offer for the Most Innovative Book Summary Tool for Church Leaders

SUMS Free Church Leaders Book Summaries

As a leader you like to read. But with the pace of life, its hard to cover all of the bases when great new content is always coming at the speed of light. Now you can get the best book summary tool every created. And its just for church leaders!

That’s why, for the last two years Auxano has been bringing you SUMS: Book Summaries for Church Leaders. We have been distilling the best content just for church leaders like you, and giving you immediate and practical action steps.

Now we are taking the SUMS tool to a whole new level. Every other week you can receive, not ONE, but THREE book “summaries” all focused around solving a practical church leadership problem. It’s called SUMS Remix. For example, our first SUMS Remix, released earlier this month focused on the problem, “We want leadership development to be happening all of the time, not just at special events.” To solve this problem we looked at Noel Tichey’s Leadership Engine, Aubrey Malphur’s book (co-authored with me), Building Leaders, and Dave & Jon Ferguson’s book, Exponential.

In a nutshell why is SUMS Remix better?

  • You need content that solves the challenges you face every day
  • You want to scan more information in less time to find the best content
  • You will to achieve more with more credibility as well-read leader

Check it out for yourself and see if you would agree that this is an incredibly innovative content tool for the church: SUMS Remix Issue #1


As we roll out this incredible new tool, I want to give you two things: First I want to invite you to become a founding subscriber this December to the SUMS Remix. Second, I want to give you a FREE copy our best SUMS tools to date— all 52 Summaries one click away in a SUMS Bookshelf Edition PDF.


In just a few weeks we will be creating a paid subscriber list to the new SUMS Remix. As we do, I want my blog readers to have the first opportunity to be founding subscribers. What exactly is a founding subscriber? It’s a special pricing status with benefits that include:

  • 50% off the regular SUMS price, locked-in for life.
  • The opportunity to gift to 3 other people a free year subscription this Christmas
  • 2 years of our regular SUMS—that’s 52 book summaries—in one FREE Bookshelf Edition PDF


If you want the SUMS Bookshelf Edition PDF today, I have it ready to e-mail to you. But first let me tell you why I like it so much. I use the bookshelf PDF as a “bookshelf within a bookshelf” in iBooks. Every cover on the bookshelf links to the summary for that book. As I scan the bookshelf PDF, I can immediately open a summary and pop it right into my iBooks. This is the fastest way to keep reading book summaries on planet earth. And now you have 52 at your fingertips, absolutely free.

If you prefer not to use a smartphone, no problem as you can open as many PDFs on your laptop or desktop as you want or print and read. I just showed this tool to my Father on his Macbook Air and he loved it.


By clicking on the link below and providing your e-mail, you can get the free SUMS Bookshelf Edition PDF sent immediately to your e-mail. By receiving this gift, you will automatically get a personal e-mail from me to be a FOUNDING SUBSCRIBER to SUMS Remix, within the next 2 weeks. I think you will love the opportunity!

Enjoy these 52 book summaries. I hope you have some great extra reading time over the holiday season.

***** LINK to the SUMS Bookshelf Edition PDF*****

Oh by the way, here is a list of 52 Book Summaries in the SUMS Bookshelf Edition PDF:

  1. How to Read a Book, Mortimer Adler
  2. The Advantage, Patrick Lencioni
  3. The Present Future, Reggie McNeal
  4. Resonate, Nancy Duarte
  5. Leaders Make the Future: 10 New Leadership Skills, Bob Johansen
  6. Great by Choice, Jim Collins
  7. What Matters Now, Gary Hamel
  8. Insanely Simple, Ken Segall
  9. Center Church, Tim Keller
  10. Creature of the Word
  11. Deep and Wide, Andy Stanley
  12. Midnight Lunch, Sarah Miller Caldicott
  13. Tribes, Seth Godin
  14. Back of the Napkin, Dan Roam
  15. Simple Church, Thom Rainer and Eric Geiger
  16. On the Verge, Alan Hirsch, Dave Ferguson
  17. Be Our Guest, Disney Institute
  18. The Ten Faces of Innovation, Tom Kelley
  19. The Leadership Pipeline (Revised), Ram Charan, Steve Drotter, Jim Noel
  20. Visual Leaders, David Sibbet
  21. Church Unique, Will Mancini
  22. Better Together, Warren Bird and Jim Tomberlin
  23. Less Clutter, Less Noise, Kem Meyer
  24. Conversational Intelligence, Judith Glaser
  25. The Leadership Challenge, 5th edition, James Kouzes & Barry Posner
  26. The Performance Factor, Pat MacMillan
  27. The Five Most Important Questions, Peter Drucker
  28. Leading Kingdom Movements, Mike Breen
  29. The Accidental Creative, Todd Henry
  30. Protégé, Steve Saccone
  31. The Art of the Start, Guy Kawasaki
  32. Just Lead, Jenni Catron & Sherri Surratt
  33. Judgment on the Front Line, Chris DeRose and Noel Tichy
  34. Prodigal Christianity, David Fitch and Geoff Holsclaw
  35. Decisive, Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  36. Church Transfusion, Neil Cole and Phil Helfer
  37. Relational Intelligence, Steve Saccone
  38. Spiritual Leadership, Henry and Rickard Blackaby
  39. Transformational Groups, Ed Stetzer and Eric Geiger
  40. The Truth About Leadership, James Kouzes and Barry Posner
  41. The Myths of Creativity, David Burkus
  42. What Great Brands Do, Denise Yohn
  43. Simply Managing, Henry Mintzberg
  44. Innovating Discipleship, Will Mancini
  45. Execution is the Strategy, Laura Stack
  46. Your Volunteers, Chris Mavity
  47. The Idea-Driven Organization, Alan Robinson and Dean Schroeder
  48. Be the Best Bad Presenter Ever, Karen Hough
  49. Smart Leaders, Smarter Teams, Roger Schwarz
  50. EGO vs. EQ, Jen Shirkani
  51. Brief, Joe McCormack
  52. The Complete Executive, Karen Wright
November 5, 2014

Tim Keller on Active Contextualization: The NINES 2014 Culture Crash Resource

It’s great to be a part of The Nines this year. As part of my “Words Creates Worlds” talk, I wanted to provide Tim Keller’s chapter on Active Contextualization which City to City has graciously made available for free. This is the best chapter on contextualization that I have seen.

May God bless your ministry in dealing with these difficult culture crash topics!

>> Download Tim Keller’s Active Contextualization