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 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.

February 16, 2016

7 Practices to Make (Much) Better Team Decisions

Will Mancini Team decisions
Most church teams enjoy hanging out together.  The weekly rhythm of doing church brings staff and volunteers together across a broad span of activities– the laughing and praying of our leading and meeting. While no church is perfect, many staff teams enjoy a strong bond and collegial spirit.

But good team spirit doesn’t ensure better team decisions. Did you ever reflect on the fact that healthy fellowship among church leaders by itself doesn’t lead to an effective culture of decision-making? In fact, I have discovered an opposite dynamic. Sometimes the common bond of ministry actually enables weaker decision-making practices, and as a result, poorer decisions. Ironically, a mutual respect can backfire to empower a “you do your thing and I’ll do mine” attitude of disengagement.

What’s at stake if teams don’t make better team decisions? From a long list of potential answers, four stand out:

Lost time: Poor team decision-making simply burns more time. It may be more time in the meeting itself because there were no collaboration guidelines. Perhaps it’s lost time outside of the meeting in hallway conversations because ideas weren’t fully explored or vetted.

Dissipated energy: Poor team decision-making leaves questions unanswered and half-baked solutions in the atmosphere. We don’t know exactly where we stand or what we’ve decided. The thought of revisiting an unfinished conversation itself is an unwelcome burden.

Mediocre ideas: Poor team decision-making fortifies our weakest thinking. Innovation is something we read about but never experience. We cut-n-past the ideas of others because we don’t know how to generate our own. We traffic in good ideas and miss great ones.

Competing visions: Poor team decision-making invites an unhealthy drift toward independence. No one has the conscious thought that they have a competing vision. But in reality, there are differences to each person’s picture of there future. It’s impossible for this divergence not to happen if there is no dialogue.

So, how do you start to create a dynamic of collaborative decision-making?  Try these seven practices for making better team decisions.

1. Define how the decision will be made.
There are several ways to decide something together. The same team could even use multiple decision-making methods in the same meeting, as long as the team is clear about the method being used for each decision. Here are some questions that will clarify which type of discussion you are having.

  • Are we giving input to the decision maker? (executive decision)
  • Will we discuss and then vote? (majority rules)
  • Will we discuss until we all agree? (consensus)
  • Will two people bring a solution under another leader’s authority (compromise)

Of course, there are variations to all of these. For example, in our collaborative visioning work we use the 100/80 principle: “Do 100% of us feel 80% good about the decision?” We consider that a truly collaborative decision.

How many hours of team time has been wasted trying to get consensus on something that is really an executive decision that will be made by the lead pastor? Don’t waste that time.  Let everyone know up front how the decision will be made and then begin the discussion.

2. Listen.
You might think this goes without saying, but it’s so crucial to good team dynamics. Many people—especially leaders—come into a conversation with their minds already made up. All they’re doing is waiting for everyone else to be quiet so they can say what they think.

Instead, listen to what the team is saying. Ask clarifying questions. Listen to understand, not to respond. Try your best to understand not only what each team member is saying, but their driving passions and underlying concerns and built in assumptions that they’re not voicing. You will make much better decisions as a team if you all learn to listen well.

3. Share with an appropriate level of honesty.
Every member of the team should feel free to honestly say what they think. But how many times has a discussion been derailed by what a team member defensively calls brutal honesty? If you have to preface your comment with something like, “I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings, but…” is usually a clue that you should rethink and reword what you were about to say.

Honesty is good. Brutal honesty is brutal. You don’t need to be brutal in order to be honest. By sharing thoughts and opinions with an appropriate level of transparency, you can will both share openly and honor your team members.

4. Say it in the room.
If you have something to say, especially if you disagree with the direction being considered, you must voice your thoughts in the room, not in the hallway afterward. This is one of the most destructive things a team can experience. It can bring division and strife, wrecking unity and blocking momentum.

If you think of something after the meeting is over, let the whole team know that you’d like to revisit the conversation. Side conversations and adjusting the decision after a team discussion devalues every person on the team. “Why did we have to sit through that whole discussion if they were just going to change it after the fact?” If you have something to say, say it in the room.

5. Ask the question, “Is there anyone else should speak into this decision that isn’t here?”
Many times there other people on the team, no matter where they sit in the organizational chart, that have experience, insight, or such a stake in the decision that their input should be included before a final decision is reached. At the very least, it’s always important to think about the people that will be directly impacted by the decision and communicate with them as much information as possible. No one likes to be blindsided. I’ve seen too many church leaders rail about the “immaturity” of a team member that could have more to do with the way decisions are communicated than it does with the maturity level of the team member in question.

6. Make a decision.
You’ve heard this before: “Not making a decision is still making a decision.” That’s true. And there are going to be times when this is the right thing to do. But at least acknowledge that you’re making a decision to table the issue or include other people in the conversation. No matter what, make a decision and be clear about it.

With our Auxano team, we use the phrase “Decide/Commit” to signal to the team that I think we’ve had enough discussion about a topic and it’s time for us to make a decision. To learn more about the different stages of a collaborative discussion, check out the Collaboration Cube. It’s a great tool to help your team collaborate more effectively.

7. Stick to the decision after the meeting.
This might sound obvious but it’s violated so often that it’s worth repeating. Once you’ve made a decision, stick with it! Changing the decision after the team has agreed on a direction basically communicates that you didn’t really need the rest of the team’s input anyway and you’re just going to do what you want to do. Guard the long-term effectiveness of your team by sticking with the decisions you make together. If you do need to change a decision, get the team back together to discuss it again first. Yes, even if that means missing the deadline or pushing back the timeline. Your team is more important.

If your team will use these seven practices, you’ll experience a dramatic synergy. What will better decisions do? You will:

  • Save time. 
  • Add energy. 
  • Generate great ideas.
  • And play on the same page with the same vision.
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


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