August 27, 2014

7 Reasons that Proactive Churches Get Legal Advice (Even When It’s No Fun)

Legal matters for the churchI 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 mission are all at risk if you leave your vault unprotected.

#3  Rethink sources of liability in everyday ministry.  I was shocked when David shared stories of how churches can be liable from policies on pastoral counseling  to physical injuries on your church’s campus. Do you know where your liabilities might be in these areas?

#4  Stay on top of employment law.  Most churches not only have employees but different kinds. And these are subject to the state and federal employment lays. The key reminder is simply this: If you have a problem down the road with how you have misapplied employment law, ignorance is not a defense.

#5  Structure well to serve the community. Its not uncommon for churches to start or be connected with business or non-profit entities from bookstores to food pantries. Two weeks ago I visited a church that built a water park for the community. When missional initiatives are born or spun off from the church, make sure you have done the due diligence on creating the right strategy, legally.

#6  Be creative with integrity. Every sermon, or original music composition or  homemade  children’s curriculum is content that is technically regulated by law. Many churches have not considered the full implications or this reality. How will these content sources will be distributed, regulated or protected? What is your vision for the content you create?

#7  Keep the peace with biblical authority. Churches have opportunities to adopt faith-based conflict resolutions that can significantly prevent or deter more difficult litigation situations. Have these mediation alternatives been totally explored and integrated into your church?

How can you best address these kinds of questions? Perhaps you should invite attorney’s in your church to refresh or reevaluate on one or more of the topics listed above. Or you can have lawyers in your church vet the value of working with a church-focused group like David Middlebrook’s team.

Don’t leave your vision susceptible! 

August 6, 2014

10 Principles for Discipling Key Donors

A guest post from Todd McMichen, Auxano’s Chief Campaign Officer

DonorHeroRecently I had several pastors step into the ranks of being committed to providing ongoing discipleship to key donors. It began during the planning phase of a capital campaign, which laid the foundation for a long-term fruitful ministry. Each pastor put in place a unique structure that reflected his personality, church culture, and relational network. Though each took a distinct approach the results were the same, exponential.

Here is a list of common principles these pastors employed.

1. Be bold. Provide a high challenge at the beginning of the process. Explain the need, role, and expectation of a generosity ministry.

2. Be open. Don’t hide anything, and share even the hard stuff. High capacity leaders will see through it if you don’t. They will also be able to discern how to become a part of the solution.

3. Be a family. Involve both the husband and wife. They are typically accustomed to serving together in philanthropic ventures. They know their roles and can become a powerful team.

4. Be a visionary. The purpose is to go further faster toward the vision. Don’t make the conversation as small as a project or need. Hint, just because the dollar amount is large doesn’t mean the vision is clear.

5. Be a discipler. Every conversation is a discipleship conversation. High capacity leaders tend to be isolated or primarily investing in others. Rarely does a pastor talk their language or does someone speak into their lives. It is your calling to respond to their need. Make it about vision, their particular passion, and the spiritual journey involved.

6. Be a sojourner. Don’t have a short-term-fund-a-crisis or project mindset. Be committed to a long-term discipleship relationship.

7. Be personal. Ask for specific prayer requests, have them into your home, call, and write hand-written notes. Invest yourself into their lives.

8. Be a community. You do not hold all the relationships, and high capacity leaders need to feel a strong connection to the body as a whole. Let leaders engage new leaders in the process. Ask them to share about their journey publicly. It will both challenge and strengthen the church.

9. Be clear. Key leaders want to know the specific need. They desire perspective to process how to respond. If you do not provide this clarity, another non-profit will.

10. Be inspiring. Share personal stories of dramatic life change or behind the scenes success in ministry. Show the impact value of the gift and how the future holds promise.

Read more from Todd here.

To contact us about this or for more information about Resourcing, please fill in the form below:

July 28, 2014

Choose Your Fuel: Vision, Hype, Busyness or a Building Project

Mike Gammill is one of our Lead Navigators at Auxano. He recently completed a campaign with San Marcos Community Church in San Marcos, TX. The Vision Clarity impact and unique Campaign story will inspire you.

In the summer of 2013, San Marcos Community Church was in the church plant doldrums. As a twelve-year-old plant they really weren’t a “plant” anymore, but their base of mission and worship was still a leased facility. They did own land a couple of streets over. They owned a building too, but it was a metal prefab building and was, literally, in storage. Their dreams of permanent place were in storage too.

Twelve years in, the church had hit a plateau and energy was on the decline. “Trying to put on Saul’s armor” were the words the Senior Pastor used when we talked about most of the solutions available to him. He resonated with our Vision Clarity process, because we started with understanding their unique God-given ministry DNA, and then, from there, navigated them through growth obstacles with vision instead of hype, busyness…or a building project.

We started their seven-month vision clarity process in September of that year. The Senior Pastor quickly made a tough decision that paid dividends in spades: he consolidated all weekly ministry programs into a weekly prayer gathering. This prayer gathering became the central nervous system to a revival that broke out shortly after. Church attendance began to increase and a second service was added. Giving began to increase and the Holy Spirit challenged leadership to step up their commitment to – literally – lay the foundation for their permanent facility.

Then, in November, the call came from their landlord that could have disrupted everything. They had 90 days to find a new place to worship (the state of Texas was turning the building into a highway). Rather than seeing this as an obstacle, church leadership saw this as leading from the Holy Spirit. In addition to finding a new place to live, the time had clearly come to launch a capital campaign in the next three months. They needed to raise capital to construct and occupy a permanent church in San Marcos, Texas, a city where it’s easier to open a bar than a church.

The Holy Spirit inspired urgency, along with an increasingly healthy centralized prayer gathering that helped them to overcome a too-short time frame. On Palm Sunday 2014, the congregation made commitments that totaled over 2.5x their 2013 budget. General giving also increased over 30%. In the end, they blew past their goals and greatly increased the generosity level of the church. All this, and their mortgage in 2015 may be less than their lease was in 2014.

Meanwhile, God demonstrated his faithfulness when he led the church to relocate to a nearby dance hall and bar that had closed its doors. When God builds his church, nothing can stand in the way.

July 11, 2014

New Personal Vision Cohort Launching Next Month! Join Me for Your Younique Year!

For over a decade in my personal ministry, I have worked closely with friends and close associates to coach them along their personal clarity journey. Recently, I have offered personal clarity tools and insights when speaking at conferences and leadership gatherings. As a result, many of you have shared your interest in going deeper on your personal clarity journey.

Which is why I want to invite you to participate in Younique Year – a personal vision cohort designed to catalyze progress in realizing your life calling.

Younique

I use the word “catalyze” very intentionally here. A chemical catalyst enables more “production” by removing barriers and improving connections in a way that protects the organic nature of the chemical reaction itself. Likewise, through the insights and tools within a collaborative coaching process, you will remove barriers and make connections on your clarity journey. In the end, you will make significant progress in applying your life vision in a natural way.

Your Year. Your Call. 

The vision of the cohort is to give an invaluable contribution through progress in self-awareness and vocational alignment with your vision. 

Here is how it works.

Process

The process for the year will be a monthly threefold pattern including a live webinar training, a huddle group for Q&A and a process group. The entire process is virtual, made possible by the wonders of technology!

  • The first experience is a live training webinar (90 minutes). Each month will be focused on a tool or process exercise. After each training webinar, you will be given exercises to complete. I am planning for some special guests to join us throughout the year as well.
  • The second experience, approximately 1 week later, is a lightning round in huddles to further process the insights and concepts shared in the webinar. The focus on the lightning rounds is answering questions after initial reflection and practice.
  • The third experience is approximately 1-2 weeks later when the cohort works in process groups of 4-6 for two hours in deeper reflection and interaction. Process groups will be put together based on affinity of life stage and ministry context.
  • In addition to this monthly pattern, we will have a social media based closed group for ongoing encouragement and interaction.

YouniqueProcess

Calendaring

The general pattern will start in September 2014 and conclude in August 2015.

The exact dates of the training webinars and huddle Q&As are subject to change and will be announced by the end of July. The current plan is to do training webinars from 1:30-3:00pm CST on the first Friday of the month and huddles starting at 1:30pm and 2:45pm CST on the second Friday of the month. Progress group times will be determined based on the preference of the 4-6 member groups. Keep in mind that the live webinars will be recorded if for any reason you can’t make it on a given month.

Master Tools

Most who have expressed interest in the group have been exposed to tools like The Clarity Spiral and the Motivational View of the World, through Will’s speaking. These are a part of a set of “Master Tools,” sub-tools and exercises that will guide the journey. Master tools include:

  • Clarity Spiral
  • Discovery Grid
  • Sweet Spot Map
  • Life Frame
  • Horizon Storyline

Some of these tools have sub-tools or exercises that will be distributed throughout the process.

Everyone Benefits…

From everyone else’s engagement. That’s why it’s important that you are ready to walk the full 12-month journey (12 months is a long time!) There will be a minimum of 5-1/2 hours of learning and discussion time for ten of the twelve months. It’s important to remember that your commitment to the process is important – for you and the rest of the group. There will be no opportunities to cancel your payment once you commit.

Investment

The investment for this process is $1,200. There are several billing options you can choose from.

Be part of the Pilot Group!

I am really excited about launching the Younique Year cohort and sharing the tools I have developed and used over the last decade. For more complete details download the Younique Year information brochure. To join the group, submit the application form found here. If you have any questions, please contact me at will.mancini@auxano.com.  Remember space is limited. 

I hope you join me!

If one does not become what one is meant to be, if one does not set out in the direction of God, if one does not bring one’s scattered passions under the transforming and unifying guidance of direction, then no wholeness of the person is possible. Conversely, without attaining personal wholeness, one can neither keep to direction nor enter into full relation.”

Maurice Friedman, MB a life of dialogue.

May 13, 2014

10 Factors that Determine the Size of Your Vision

I 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 to stay in a very confined space—geographically and relationally—for their entire lives.

#3 An active imagination

Some people have a tenacious impulse to learn, ask questions and grow how they think. That kind of curious drive pays off. The imagination is your most powerful human ability. Do you exercise it much? Einstein said that imagination is more important than knowledge.

#4  Sequences of risk taking

I’m not talking about a bias for risk in general, but the ability to “stack risk-taking” and feel the momentum of one “leap of faith” after another. Many leaders take a risk or two and settle for the really good outcomes rather than continuing to find even more extraordinary results.

#5 Ability to focus gifting

Most leaders know themselves but don’t have a fine-tuned understanding of precisely why God put them on earth. When you do, and when you focus that gifting, big things will result. The scope of your vision grows as your focus narrows.  Are you trying to do five things with your life or one thing?  (If you want more info on my first personal vision  cohort—starting in August— let me know.)

#6 Team and network building ability

We all know wild dreamers who didn’t have a team. Your team building ability will dramatically enable of disable the size of your vision. In addition, I am amazed by the increase of wisdom, access, ideas, and opportunities that come through active network cultivation.  Wouldn’t you expect the vision of a pastor who networks to be bigger than one who doesn’t bother?

#7  A goal oriented outlook daily

Every person who achieves a big vision has a basic recipe for attacking the 24-hour unit of time we all possess. What is yours? I have a three kinds of days in my life (focused, buffer and free). On buffer days I determine the 2 most important things to accomplish by 11:00am.

#8  Margin to write down your dreams

At first I wanted to say “disciple to write down your dreams.” But discipline is over-rated in this way. The bigger challenge is margin. People enjoy dreaming and writing down their “wish list” when given the time. That doesn’t take discipline— its one of the most exciting things you can do! Over and over again, you will see the common thread of big visionaries: Put it on paper

#9  Recovery from big failures

Don’t underestimate the power of a good failure. Failures remind you that life is short. Failures expand your pain threshold. Failures purify and humble and bring powerful perspective. Sometimes a failure in one area or with one dream can increase the size of another.

#10 Graciousness and kindness to others

I suspect there are people who excel at the first nine factors but in the end, they just aren’t that nice.  They don’t care about others. They don’t stay connected to their teams and their friends. They are so driven, they loose the human element in everything they do. So you might not think something this simple would make the “big vision” list. But I can’t shake it.