October 2, 2016

The Younique Life Plan – Personal Calling and Life Planning for the Church

When is the last time a pastor asked you about your Life Plan?

Younique launches this week as a new training company that brings a simple and powerful Life Plan experience to believers everywhere. It’s not just a brand new life planning process. It’s the first personal calling and life visioning experience for the church, thru the church to release the church. 

After a decade-long journey and several beta arounds, the toolbox is ready to roll.  Why so long you wonder? The answer is simple–break-thru. I didn’t want another workbook to clutter our desks. It didn’t want to lead people to list so many goals that they would all be rendered useless. The simple fact is that most Life Plan products don’t work. And none are gospel based from the ground up. That’s why we say that Younique is:

  • Break-thru built
  • Gospel-grounded
  • and Vocationally targeted

What does “break-thru” really mean? It means that you discover patterns and potential that change the trajectory of your life. It means that you name what God put you on earth to do. It means creatively imagining where God is taking your life and prioritizing singular goals to get there. It’ all about traction: deep reflection that leads to meaningful new action. 

You already know what break-thru doesn’t mean. That’s when you attend a class or read a book and get more information with no transformation. It’s easy to find new ideas that tickle your mind but don’t re-train your feet. I call it a Life Plop, not a Life Plan.

The classic problem is that most life plans don’t take into account your life and are so complicated that it’s impossible to actually follow. As a case in point, consider Michael Hyatt’s book published this year entitled,  Living Forward. Because he is a platform building master, he sold lots of books. But did his readers experience lots of break-thru? I doubt it. While the book provides plenty of positive encouragement, the step-by-step guide leads you to an impossibly complex plan (at least for 98% of the population.) For example, Rachel’s Life Plan in the appendix, overflows with over 50 content pieces including nine separate purposes, nine separate visions and umpteen commitment goals. How would you like to wake up the next day with 50 new gauges on your life’s dashboard?

Have you heard the saying that it’s simple to make things complex, but it’s complex to make things simple? That’s why Younique was 10 years in the making. I wasn’t  creating a product, I was testing for break-thru. I didn’t want anything less for you. That required solving several major challenges over the years…to be unpacked at a later time.

So What is The Younique Life Plan?

It’s the combination of a personal Vision Frame (4 ideas to declare your identity) and a personal Horizon Storyline (4 ideas to define your future). For example, what is known as “mission” on the Vision Frame is now your personal LifeCall. Imagine being able to name what only you can do on planet earth with your LifeCall statement!

Some of you used me or another Auxano navigator to lead your church’s Vision Framing process. Many of you follow this blog. You will certainly recognize these two master tools of my life’s work in organizational consulting. Now these tools work beautifully for personal application. Again, I will unpack more later.

How do You Build a Younique Life Plan?

The plan itself is developed through what we all the “Personal Vision Journey.” The primary delivery system is through the church. That’s why I’m ready to talk with interested churches about being the designated Younique provider in their local community. Church leaders get certified as Younique Coaches, and then offer the Personal Vision Journey through the church to their leaders, attenders and members.

But there is good news! Since it will take a while for churches across the country to get trained up, we have immediate opportunities for individuals to take the Personal Vision Journey through intensives (3-days) or through a virtual cohort (12 weeks). Read more about them. We have four intensives coming up (Nov., Dec. and Jan.)  and two virtual cohorts launching in January 2017.

In the end, know that you inspired this massive life project! Countless leaders over the years have asked me about the application of my ideas to their personal lives. The time has come and the toolbox is finally ready. So let’s get some personal calling break-thru!

February 12, 2016

How Jon Tyson at Trinity Grace Church Masterfully Models a Vision Sunday Message

Trinity Grace Church Vision SundayI’ve enjoyed a few interactions with Jon Tyson over the years, who I met for the first time at Discovery Church in Orlando. Ten years ago he planted Trinity Grace Church in New York City. He tweeted a quote from Church Unique today which led to an audio I discovered of his recent vision Sunday message. If you want to improve your vision casting or plan your own vision Sunday this year, it’s worth the time to listen.

Vision Sunday is not Jon’s term, but it is the most common way church leaders talk about a special preaching weekend dedicated to addressing the identity and direction of the church. It always signals a pivotal moment: the turning  page in the church’s history, the re-invogorating of a core ideal or value, an assessment of recent ministry efforts or the dramatic unveiling of a new initiative or dream. For Jon and the people of Trinity Grace, this vision Sunday was a gathering of several multisites or missional community “parishes” to celebrate and recalibrate at the 10-year mark.

Why is it a masterful model of preaching vision on a vision Sunday? 

In Church Unique, published in 2008, I teach the six elements of a compelling vision casting moment with a tool called the Vision Casting Spider Diagram. Two of the six the elements are consistently missing when church leaders cast vision: the “burning platform” and the “mind stretch.” And, it just so happens, that these two elements are the most critical to achieving the powerful influence of the vision itself.

It’s worth listing to the message, to see how Jon injects burning platform content and mind stretching perspective for his congregation at the 10-year mark. Below, you will find a few nuggets. For a full training experience, I suggest that you download the Vision Casting Spider Diagram and listen to Jon’s message with your team.

Element #1: Burning Platform – Do I frame the larger need and speak to the fear of loss?

My favorite part of the message is when Jon shares that they have uncovered 49 true conversion stories in a church of 2400 attenders. He boldly declares that a 2% conversion does not reveal the full measure of what the Holy Spirit can do. He says that he is “amazed but not satisfied.” Here are some phrases that help paint a picture of need. He could have easily celebrated their success only, but uses the the strong results of a 10-year run to set up the need for revival.

“It’s too hard and too much work to do programs for more Christians.”

“We have dribs, drabs and a slow grind. We need more of the Spirit not less.”

“Our dreams can’t be determined by the plausibility structures of our culture but by the purposes of God in our time.”

“What is our response at 10 years in? Repentance. We spend our lives in busy activism, we need to repent of this, we need to repent of the typical New York Christian life.”

“We are not satisfied with success in evangelical Christianity.”

Element #2: Mind Stretch –  Do I enlarge faith and challenge the imagination with audacious God-size goals?

As Jon looks into the future he uses the primary template of what I call  “Presence Manifestation” in God Dreams, my most recent book on visionary planning. This is a classic reformed vision of renewal and revival. Jon expresses this beautifully, with power and impact for his time and place. He uses Scripture to paint a picture of the Spirit’s role in unifying the body to give us a shared heartbeat (aligning our desires) and a shared mindset (aligning our vision). He uses history to help our minds stretch to see the possible impossibility of “the acceleration of the Spirit’s natural work.”  Specifically, he recounts the Moravian stories as “historical mentors of the church.” Listen to some of his mind-stretching ideas (quotes are not exact):

“The motivation for our founding was a longing to see the fame and deeds of God renewed and known in our time.”

“When I read my Bible, I realized that this is not the Lord of the Rings, this is TRUE.”

“It’s the Spirit’s role to keep us together, to unify us. The Spirit melts us together. It’s the Spirit’s role to convict the world. The Spirit has a capacity to internally convince us.”

“The Spirit glorifies Jesus who shows us an alternative way and alternative world. He confounds our understanding of who God is and what he wants to do.”

“God wants to do something so spiritually provocative in our time that others will grab the hem of our garments in order to be a part.”

I hope you take the time to listen to the message. Remember: most pastors spend more time on preaching in one month than they do on visionary planning in 5 years. Your calling and your people, deserve more.

>> Download the Vision Casting Spider Diagram >>>

>>> Listen to Jon’s message with your team >>>

February 9, 2016

God Dreams Executive Pastor Certification for Church Vision and Execution

Screen Shot 2016-02-02 at 12.20.55 AM

Join me and 15 other like-minded executive pastor leaders this August in Colorado.  The four-day certification experience is designed for executive pastors, network leaders and denominational coaches. Slots are open on a limited basis to for-profit consultants. There is a limit of 15 people.

Why You Should Come

  • You love seeing teams come together around clear vision
  • You want to increase the positive accountability for your team
  • You want to give your short life to laser focused, kingdom priorities
  • You like to think well and be sharpened by other world-class leaders

Okay you’d expect me to say that… Why else should you come

  • While Auxano has certified a few dozen people in a highly relational, invite only format, this is my first formal opportunity to do so publicly. I have waited 15 years to take this step. Now that God Dreams is published, its time to multiply the work of visionary planning.
  • The tools and training you will receive are unlike any other on the planet. The subjects will range from creating your church’s unique execution dashboard to training staff how to vision cast every day to “leading up” to your senior pastor.
  • I am shifting how I spend my time to invest more in others. I really look forward to getting to know you and supporting your life and ministry.

God Dreams ThumbnailWhat You Receive

  • A certification notebook that will walk you through how to facilitate your own visionary planning sessions in a church environment.
  • Reproducible templates, PDFs, and tools for weekly team management in the church
  • Best practice examples and how-to’s from the front lines of America’s strongest ministries
  • Incredible community and dynamic learning on church vision, culture and growth
  • Stretched imagination and refreshed vision with your own calling
  • Great destination location
  • Training from 1 p.m. Monday to 11 a.m. Thursday during the certification week
  • Optional evening events

2016 Certification Week

  • August 22-25, Colorado destination (TBA)

What You Invest: $2,950.00 (does not include travel and lodging)

Next Step

Please fill out the form at http://goddrea.ms/certification to indicate your interest and sign up.

February 4, 2016

Vision Statement Case Study: Calvary Baptist Church “Speaking the Peace of God into the Brokenness of Life”

calvary WS vivid description

Restarting the Conversation for Long-range Vision

When it comes to vision statements, many church leaders have lost interest. And for good reason–most vision statements are generic and useless. I like to say that your church really doesn’t need a vision statement, it needs a visionary state of mind. Yet, there needs to be a way to cultivate that state of mind. Your team does need some ideas on paper to become a sort of “mental charging station” for themselves and other leaders.  Think of a vivid vision statement as “base camp” for the team to assemble around, in order to take “vision casting treks” and “meaning excursions” all day long; that is the daily work of ministry.

So how do you get this vision thing right? What does success look like?  I answer the question for you in my new book God Dreams. More than that, I created a step-by-step guide for church teams.

To inspire you along the way, here is a case study from Calvary Baptist Church in Winston-Salem, NC, led by Rob Peters. Before we jump into their “Speaking the Peace of God into the Brokenness of Life” vision, let’s clarify what it is we are looking at.

First, it is a vivid description example of a long-range vision or what I call a “beyond-the-horizon” vision. Many have abandoned thinking long as discipline as a result of the constant changes of culture and technology. But for the church, there are many foundational reasons why leadership should think long-range. Here are twelve of them.

Second, it is only one fourth of what you need to have a complete visionary plan. This is the start – the long-range context to visionary plan. There are three other horizons to develop and the plan is eventually anchored in four immediate action initiatives in the next 90 days. To see the model for visionary planning check out how the Horizon Storyline works.

Calvary Baptist Vision: Speaking the Peace of God into the Brokenness of Life

Calvary has a rich heritage as a church that is nearing its centennial anniversary.

For this heritage we are grateful and humbled. Yet over time our efforts have splintered, and our impact has diffused. Despite our active ministries a penetrating assessment recently revealed significant challenges in evangelism, discipleship, and leadership—issues that can and must change.

How will Calvary make these changes? We will come together as one and engage our One Mission “Vision Pyramid Strategy.” Imagine a giant pyramid with one stone on the top and ten thousand stones on the bottom, with layers in between: one, ten, one hundred, one thousand, and ten thousand. At the top is our one mission, pointing up to Jesus’ Great Commission. This is our ultimate guide. At the bottom is our lives—you and me, the people of Calvary—five thousand members connecting each week with ten thousand lives in our community. We are the grassroots. We are the church. We are the living stones of God’s house, and the movement must begin with us.

The layers of our pyramid strategy look like this: one mission, ten initiatives, one hundred plants, one thousand salvation stories, and ten thousand lives touched.

Our ten initiatives will be the ten-piston engine powering a spiritual renaissance.

A renaissance is a renewal of life, vigor, and interest. Our community is experiencing more vigor today in the arts, medicine, and technology than ever. We must bring the power of the gospel to this cultural renewal. It’s not simple, but God can do it through us, His church. Some initiatives will focus on the “inside” of the church: from clearing room for a discipleship pathway and a leadership pipeline, to igniting generational mentoring, to refreshing our campus, to building a pastoral school of ministry. Other initiatives will focus on blessing the city: from alleviating childhood hunger and poor reading, from addressing racial tension to economic development, from spurring community health to spiritual health. With this engine and the limitless power of gospel fuel, we will speak the peace of God into the brokenness of our world.

From our ten initiatives we will plant or revitalize one hundred churches over the next ten years.

In turn we will witness one thousand stories of life transformation through salvation: people rescued by Jesus, men and women made whole again, boys and girls freshly redeemed, tears of joy at every celebrative baptism.

Finally, we will see God touching ten thousand people each week through intentional initiatives of our church body. Imagine five thousand worshippers each engaging at least two people outside of Calvary with a smile, prayer, hug, gesture of generosity, unexpected blessing, or total availability at an inconvenient time. We will do this. We can speak the peace of God into the brokenness of the people and the world around us. We will see a renaissance of reconciliation in our lifetime.

Church: Calvary Baptist Church, Winston-Salem, NC

Pastor: Rob Peters

Vision Template: Institutional renovation that leads to geographic saturation


>>>> Buy God Dreams >>>>


February 1, 2016

Same Grit, New Love: The Church Values of Mark Driscoll’s New Church Plant, The Trinity Church

The trinity churchIt has been said that your greatest strengths reflect your greatest weaknesses.

Mark Driscoll grew a wildly successful church in Seattle–Mars Hill–with a strong following locally and nationally through his speaking, books and the Acts 29 church planting network.

A little over a year ago, Mars Hills closed down and the 12 sites of the large megachurch become autonomous. You can read the entire story but I’ll boil it down to one word: grit. It attracted people to pastor Mark; it led to the tragic failure of the church. In the end he was too harsh as a leader.

The year before things started unraveling, I was with Mark in the Catalyst Conference greenroom. My son, Jacob happened to be there with me. I wanted Jacob to get some advice from Mark as he started his journey to college. It was good advice but it was bold, blazing and borderline crass. I was glad Mark said what he said. It was appropriate to three men talking about manly stuff. It was edgy. Your greatest strengths reflect your greatest weaknesses.

I have always said that your success develops your confidence and your failures develop your convictions. As I read the guiding principles of Mark Driscoll’s new church, I couldn’t help but notice how his previous failures are informing his new church values system. Same grit, new love.

At Auxano we walk with churches to build our their top 4-6 values that we define as the shared convictions that guide the actions and reveal the strengths of the church. This is one side of the Vision Frame. Many times the deepest window to our values is our own failures. It reveals lines that we never want to cross again. Here are the top 10 reasons why you should state your church values.

What does this mean now for Mark Driscoll? As he pours the foundation for a fresh start, here are five questions that The Trinity Church will use in making decisions:

  1. How is God glorified through this?
  2. Does this contribute to church health?
  3. Are lives being transformed?
  4. Are people learning the Bible?
  5. Are people in relationship?

In addition here are eleven phrases or statements that he aspires to embed into the culture of the church. I consider this to be an extended list of church values that he will be refining.

  • 🙏 Pray first
  • 🚲 The pedals on our bike are Bible teaching and relationships
  • ❤️ Loving relationships are the mark of good theology
  • 🎉 Fun is fundamental
  • 👏 Build people up, don’t beat people up
  • 👑 God is our Father and we are a family of multiple generations
  • 👶 Children are a blessing
  • 👍 We do things with excellence or we don’t do them at all
  • 👨‍👩‍👧‍👦 The family that serves together grows closer
  • 🙌 Nothing beats people meeting Jesus
  • 💲 Vision requires provision

Personally I am proud of Mark for stating the obvious and working to create a new culture:

Build people up, don’t beat people up

All through the website you see a new softness; a new attention to love and healthy relationships. Even the use of emoticons signals a shift (or maybe a lack of resources). When it boils all down, it looks like Trinity Church has one mission driving the big idea the new start: We open our Bibles to learn. We open our lives to love.

Who among us doesn’t need grace for life and room to learn from our mistakes? (Whether they be highly visible or not). My prayer is that God will richly bless the new vision of The Trinity Church.

By the way,  how are you doing stating your own core convictions and ministry values? What cultural lines have been crossed that need to be re-clarified with your leadership team?