October 18, 2014

Using Social Media as a Christ Follower: One Principle and Three Questions

social media enough book

After taking LifeWay Christian Stores through a vision process, I not only shop there often, I go with a different mindset. Their mission is passionately engaging believers on their journey of faith. The big idea is to be an oasis-outfitter. A place that feels at the same time like a refreshing oasis and an REI outfitter, for your spiritual life.

Because I’m a father to Abby, my 15-year old daughter, I recently  picked up a new piece of equipment: a book by Kate Conner titled,  Enough: 10 Things we Should be Telling our Teenage Girls.

Here is a takeaway that I think brings immediate value to any Christian using social media.

ONE PRINCIPLE

Conner argues that the answer to problems with social media don’t center around removing social media itself. Rather it involves the commitment to:

Take the good, leave the rest.

She cites 1 Thess. 5:21: “Test everything. Hold on to the good.” Here is where her words grabbed me:

  • Take the enjoyment, leave the addiction
  • Take the communication, leave the isolation
  • Take the inspiration and leave the jealously

Good stuff. And remember what Aristotle said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”

THREE QUESTIONS

1. What story am I telling?

If you look at the ongoing communication of social media what is the dominant theme and meaning of your life. What are you all about? Travel? Parenting? Sports? Work? Criticism? Food?

2. If I went back and read all of my social media statuses, would I recognize me?

Conner emphasizes that our heat-of-the-moment selves are not our best selves.

3. If I want back and read all of my social media statuses would I know I was a Christian? 

Great questions to bring clarity to your life. What questions would you add?

October 10, 2014

10 Compelling Church Mission Statements (from the Last 10 that I Facilitated)

church mission as compassIt’s exciting to lead a growing team of navigators at Auxano these days. Thirteen years ago I dreamed about the idea that I could actually spend a 40-hour work week just helping church leaders work on things like mission, vision and values. Now we have 8 staff navigators, and a dozen part-time guys who have served over 150 churches in 2014.

As a player-coach, I still lead a few processes myself for training purposes or to work with churches specifically that I feel called to. Here are 10 that I have recently worked with in facilitating the mission articulation.

1.  Making much of Jesus, because Jesus changes everything (in process)

Austin Stone, Austin, TX (Kevin Peck, lead pastor)

2.  Connecting people with God, through authentic relationships to serve communities (in process)

- Newbreak Church, San Diego, CA (Mike Quinn, lead pastor)

3.  Passionately engaging believers on their journey of faith 

LifeWay Christian Stores, Nashville, TN (Tim Vineyard, president)

4.  Inviting the striving to something really real (in process)

- The Bridge Bible Church, Bakersfield, CS (Jeff Gowling, senior pastor)

5.  Rescuing one another from cultural Christianity to follow Jesus every day

- Park Cities Baptist Church, Dallas, TX. (Jeff Warren, senior pastor)

6. Promoting the discovery of Jesus through sports

Upward Sports, Spartanburg, SC (Caz McCaslin, president)

7. Helping one another trade a checklist faith for real life with Jesus

First Baptist Concord, Knoxville, TN (John Avant, lead pastor)

8. Equipping multiplying leaders with reproducible systems to plant more healthy churches

Launch Group, Atlanta, GA (Mac Lake, lead architect)

9. Imperfect people, risking it all to make Jesus real one life at a time

- Salem Lutheran, Tomball, TX (Tim Niekerk, senior pastor)

10. Inviting the distracted and disinterested to realize their role in God’s story

- Mountain Park Community Church, Phoenix, AZ (Allan Fuller, lead pastor)

May 9, 2014

The 60-second Church Communication Assessment and Auxano’s New Service: The Virtual Communication Audit

This week we had fun releasing a new service at Auxano. We are calling it the Church Communication Virtual Audit. For years we have done communication audits onsite through our Vision Framing work and our Guest Perspective Evaluations. We find that we can deliver a lot of value really fast when we are onsite. Finally the thought occurred to our 8-person Church Communications team: Why can’t we help any church with their communications whether we go onsite or not? Voila! The virtual audit was birthed. Se we thought we would tease the church world with this four-part lightning-quick assessment to get you juices flowing about the limitations of your current church strategy. So just pick one word from the two matrixes below to describe your church’s communication strategy: Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 5.37.35 PM Screen Shot 2014-05-07 at 5.37.46 PM So what words describe your strategy?

  • Cluttered and Interesting?
  • Outdated and chatty?
  • Unseen and unheard?

If it’s anything other than effective and engaging, then go here and get a free quote for a Virtual  Audit. It may be just what the doctor ordered to fulfill the mission that Jesus have given your church!!! PS- we thought we would release this new service through a teaser e-mail, prior to the roll-out of our new website. So the only way to get info on this service is via our subscribed e-mail list or this blog.

April 6, 2014

Why Your Church is Probably Operating at Less than 50% Effectiveness

Church Mission StatementMost of you will disagree with what I am about to suggest. Nevertheless, I will try my best to share with you what I’ve learned over the last 13 years. Keep in mind that this post title is not a theory; it comes from a front row seat watching real transformation of senior pastors, their staff, their lay leaders, and eventually their entire congregation.

First, I’ll share the problem and give some quick illustrations of churches in the transformation process. Secondly, I will give two analogies to reinforce my point.

THE PROBLEM

The problem is that most churches have a general sense of their mission rather than clearly defined and contextually crafted mission.  What does it mean to be working with a general sense of mission? Let’s illustrate. I just surveyed the top 10 staff at a large church (and by most standards a successful church) running over 1,000 in weekend attendance. When asked to state their mission, the answers included:

  • Extending the joy of following Christ to all people
  • To make disciples and serve the community
  • Reach people and growing disciples
  • Being God’s agent in world to make a difference in the world, everywhere we go.
  • To provide worship, small group and service opportunities

These statements of mission illustrate “leading from a general sense” for two reasons. First, they are not articulating the same words. Second, they are general re-articulations of the great commission. Any nuance among them is due to the bias and experience of the individual. One sounds operational while another sounds missional. One is a follower of John Piper, and one just read, “The Externally Focused Church.” You get the idea.

Now, some may object and suggest that these generic restatements aren’t a problem at all. Isn’t having a general orientation toward a disciple-making mission enough? I don’t think so.

REAL MISSION

In the last 4 years, I have worked with three churches all within a 10 minutes drive from one another in Dallas, Texas. All of these churches run over 1,000 in weekend attendance. Below is the new articulated mission of each church. Keep in mind that when I started working with them, the key leaders only had a general sense of mission.

Church #1: Inviting people into the unexpected joy of desperate dependence on Jesus.

Church #2: Rescuing one another from cultural Christianity to follow Jesus every day.

Church #3: Calling the Christian-ish to become passionate servants of Christ.

Each one of these churches has a mission that reflects:

  • Aspects of denominational heritage (Bible, Baptist & Methodist, respectively)
  • Clues to their corporate strengths and passion as a congregation
  • Nuances guided by their location and facility assets within Dallas
  • An outward posture based on engaging the Dallas culture

Last week I had a follow-up visit with two of the churches. Here are exact quotes from their staff:

  • “We are not the same church we used to be.”
  • “Everyone in our church ‘gets it.’  They know who we are and what we are about, and this creates powerful synergy.
  • “As a result of our focus with leaders in the body, we gave $550,000 more than we ever have to a one-time missions offering (50% increase in giving).”
  • “Our greatest challenge is a willing readiness of our people to do more!”

More energy. Greater resources. Better synergy.  Would you like to have that right now at your church? Sure you would. Would you have guessed that the first step toward this “more” is defining for the first time what your specific mission is as a church? Probably not. And that’s my point. As a result of your generic mission you are most likely operating at less than 50% of what you could be. If you don’t know your mission, you certainly don’t have a culture of mission. And if you don’t have a culture of mission, than what are people in your church really doing? Why are they there?

TWO ANALOGIES

The first analogy is a restaurant start-up. Imagine that we were excited to start a new restaurant and believed it had the potential to be a successful franchise. To get off the ground we want to attract investors and a few talented people to join our ambitious dream. How successful do you think we would be if our mission were to “make food and serve the community?” You guessed it— not very. Why? The language of mission does nothing to differentiate us from the thousands of restaurants that already exist. Nor does it guide our thinking, synergy, planning and communication for practical next steps. We really need to decide whether we are a fast-casual Italian or fine-dining seafood? Right!?

Consider another very different example. My wife Romy is a very talented artist. Sometimes she paints a random scene or an image that inspired her. Sometime she paints with a purpose, selecting a pre-determined location for a painting with a specific objective that guides the content, color and emotion of the work. What might look like the same act to an unknowing observer—Romy painting two similar paintings—is actually very different. One painting requires no pre-thought or preparation. The other work of art is very calculated; she paints with a completely intensity and focus. Purpose changes everything!

So now it’s up to you. If this post means anything to you, conduct a litmus test: do your people know your mission? Is it meaningfully articulated based on your understanding of what your church can do better than 10,000 others? If not, then I think you are operating at a capacity less than 50% of what you should be. And that’s not an exaggeration. And, if you want to talk about it just let me know in the comments below.

If you already do run with a clear, concise, compelling and contextual mission, I would love to know about it and share it with the world. Let me know your mission in the comments section below.

Life if short and ministry is hard. So let’s lead with stunning clarity!

March 25, 2014

The Vision Statements of 13 Great Leaders in the Bible

Spiritual Vision

In a previous post, I introduced the powerful concept call the Future Perfect Paradigm. I am continuing this series by looking at the vision statements or the future perfect of 13 biblical leaders. What is the future perfect paradigm?

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. 

The summary chart below is taken from work by Robert Clinton and only slightly tweaked and expanded.

Vision Statements of Biblical Leaders and Future Perfect Paradigm

We will continue to explore how the idea of a future perfect paradigm add value to the typical notion of a vision statement in the next post.