December 6, 2014

The Top 10 Reasons to Advance Church Goals One Big Goal at a Time

Church Goals by Will Mancini

Most church leaders never experience what it feels like to have one big goal for their entire church. (Unless of course they are raising funds in a traditional capital campaign.) Yet, to be a part of a church culture that sets and achieves big goals time and time again is as God honoring as much as it is exhilarating!

What do most churches do instead of having one big goal? Its pretty simple. They either have no clear and stated aspirations at all or they have too many goals in an overwhelming strategic plan or cumbersome dashboard. The sweet spot is a rare yet priceless in-between: one highly visible, broadly supported goal. At Auxano we call this a “missional milestone” and it usually is based on a time horizon of 6 to 12 months out.

One key to understanding the value of having one goal, is that you have one goal at a time. That is, you keep resetting the next big goal to advance the longer-term vision of your congregation. (Learn more about the different horizons of planning.)

 So what are the top ten reasons to set church goals one at a time?

#1  One goal at a time focuses the attention of staff and leaders.

No goal = little focus. Too many goals = playing for different teams.

#2  One goal at a time creates greater energy among the congregation.

No goal = unactivated potential. Too many goals = depleted energy.

#3  One goal at a time directs everyone’s prayers as a concert of dependence on God.

No goal = random prayers. Too many goals = low likelihood of any goal-directed prayers at all.

#4  One goal at a time helps leaders think bigger about what God might be doing.

No goal = smaller thinking. Too many goals = fragmented thinking.

#5  One goal at time means we will set goals for disciple-making outcomes not just for raising money.

No goal = you only set goals when raising funds. Too many goals = people never see the importance of  disciple-making goals.

#6  One goal at a time generates a sense of momentum.

No goal = people define success any way they want. Too many goals = splintered momentum.

#7  One goal at a time helps us build toward bigger and bigger goals.

No goals = no “ramp” to bigger goals. Too many goals = each goal stays smaller.

#8  One goal at a time fosters healthy risk-taking.

No goal = no reason to risk. Too many goals = much lower risk threshold.

#9  One goal at a time connects people to the larger story of God’s redemptive history.

No goal = live in a smaller story.  Too many goals = disconnect people.

 #10  One goal at a time demonstrates God-honoring unity.

No goal = missed opportunity to show people our “togetherness.” Too many goals = shows people our different agendas.

December 5, 2014

Why You Need More than Church Capital Campaign to Fund Your Ministry

Church Capital Campaigns Why does your church need more than a church capital campaign? Because pastors and church leaders and good-hearted church attenders are tired of the “campaign fatigue” brought upon by the traditional approach to raising funds.

Stop Campaigning and Start Discipling

The potential abuse of the traditional campaign companies comes by focusing on fundraising cycles, back to back (typically in 3-year cycles) designed to raise money without adequate vision, leadership development or disciple-making strategies in place.  Two years ago, the Auxano team felt led by God to address the sticky issues of this industry. I personally felt called to be a part of the solution and not just a naysayer regarding the old-school approaches. Our process is far from perfect, but I can say we are getting some extraordinary results from taking a different path; a better and more holistic approach. Here is one of our stories by Todd McMichen:

The Story of Mainstreet Church 

Recently, Auxano was engaged by Mainstreet Church in the greater Toledo, Ohio area to help rethink how they would continue to fund their vision. Mainstreet logo_originalUnder the leadership of Lead Pastor, Marty Pennington, the church had taken a leap of faith, constructed a new campus, and relocated to the new facilities enabling them to build relationships that move more people to full devotion to Christ. However, this new level brought about new resourcing challenges. The church had a healthy debt load that needed to be addressed and an ever-increasing cycle of one campaign after another. Each campaign resulted in lower participation percentages, a reduction in cash offerings, and smaller financial commitments by their members. Mainstreet was experiencing “campaign fatigue.” Campaign fatigue sets in when members of the church become weary of the repetitive cycle of campaign after campaign with no apparent end in sight. For both leaders and members, fatigue quickly grows into frustration and weariness. The church was at a resourcing crossroads and had several challenges that needed to be overcome.

  • How do we continue to fund the vision?
  • How do we stop the campaign cycle?
  • How do we re-energize leaders?
  • How do we disciple believers in the area of generosity?
  • How do we increase the number of people who are financially contributing to the vision of the church?

So what did Campaigns by Auxano recommend? Stop Campaigning and Start Discipling! The church courageously hit the pause button on their next campaign and developed a comprehensive discipleship plan around their “give fully” spiritual mark. They identified four stages of “giving fully” for Christ followers: emerging, engaged, growing, and generous. Members were challenged to assess their stage and take the essential steps to go to the next stage. The clear challenge was to “grow up” in the area of generosity. For some that meant to start tithing. For others it meant that God was calling them to become generous “above and beyond” givers. Mainstreet’s prayer was to create a culture of generosity among a broader base of their membership and provide a break in the campaign cycle. growing1 So what happened? Despite enduring the worst weather on record and its impact on their Sunday morning attendance, the church had amazing spiritual and numerical results:

  • 38% immediate giving increase for the first 12 weeks of the generosity initiative
  • 16% sustainable increase in budget giving beyond the first 12 weeks of the generosity initiative
  • more people contributing financially to the work of the church than ever before
  • a new generosity culture language that is empowering discipleship and making the mission transferable
  • a clearly designed and supported growth pathway from being an emerging giver to a generous disciple

When you bring the entire staff together, articulate a clear vision, and create a comprehensive discipleship strategy, churches can grow a generous culture that will produce immediate and sustainable results. Of course, you can keep campaigning if that is more fun!

November 24, 2014

3 Ways to Develop Your Church Leaders Without Having More Events

Leadership has become the hottest topic among growing church leaders these days. And I think for good reason. There is a healthy and ever-increasing awakening to the reality that programs don’t grow people, people do. And the more you are in the business of really making disciples, the more leadership development moves from periphery to central; it becomes a real need AND a felt need issue!

But the first problem in execution is again the over-reliance on events and programming. Churches quickly start leadership development classes or events only to overwhelm further, the busiest people they serve. Many first takes at leadership development become a recipe for insanity!

What then are some alternative solutions? What are ways to develop leaders IN church without creating more events AT church?

SOLUTION #1: Use a special story-telling technique to help leaders teach other leaders in realtime

I learned this teaching-via-story tool from Noel Tichy which he introduces in his book, Leadership Engine as a  “Teachable Point of View.” It takes some effort to get going but can become a powerful part of a leadership development culture. One of the most significant steps I have ever taken as a leader is to write down ten, 2-minute testimonies of my life’s most significant leadership lessons. Try it and learn more in the download below.

SOLUTION #2: Implement self-led venues for people to learn at any time, any place and any pace

With access to digital content today, its easier than ever to provide learning and development opportunities virtually. One caution: Don’t let leadership development drift into a information-transfer opportunity only. Watching a video doesn’t make you a better leader. But watching a video can be a significant step in a relational development pathway. Aubrey Malphurs and I wrote a chapter in Building Leaders about 16 different venues including this self-led type. Also, check out the Ministry Grid for a great online tool for church leaders.

SOLUTION #3: Embed apprenticeship as a norm in ministry environments

While many people have written on apprenticeship, few have practiced it as well as Dave and Jon Ferguson. Check out their thoughts in the download below. One huge and obvious benefit  of apprenticing is that you don’t have to recreate a training environment because every ministry environment is a training environment. Apprenticing can be challenging but it is doable. It is the primary method Auxano uses for training Navigators.

Download the SUMS reMix 12-page PDF, on Leadership Development 

In our first issue of our SUMS reMix we tackled this post’s problem. SUMS  reMix is a brand new tool that brings you three simple solutions to practical challenges for church leaders. Each solution comes via book summary of a book relevant to church leadership. Sign-up here.

November 15, 2014

Stop Being an Overworked Pastor by Becoming an Essential One

I run into overworked pastors every week. In this second post of a series reflecting on the book, Essentialism, by Greg McKeown for the benefit of church leaders , I want to explore the reality that you are bombarded with the “trivial many” every day in ministry. In fact, you are probably an overworked pastor:

Now let me ask you this: Have you ever found yourself stretched too thin? Have you ever felt both overworked and underutilized? Have you ever found yourself majoring in minor activities? Do you ever feel busy but not productive? Like you’re always in motion, but never getting anywhere?

Of course you have. We all have, especially working in the church. What are you going to do about it? Allow me to recommend, in the words of Greg McKeown, that it starts by discerning the trivial many from the vital few! The key to being an “essential pastor” is knowing precisely what you are called to do. As you focus on the essential things God wants you to focus on you will accomplish more with less energy. And most likely, you will have more joy doing it. But you must find the “vital few.” More ministry and more joy without the burden of more work on your back. Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it?  I can assure you that its not. So, how do you get there? Three actions are the first steps of freeing yourself from the burden of “too much” and flood of the “trivial many:” You must start by escaping, exploring and evaluating.

The way of the Essentialist is to explore and evaluate a broad set of options before committing to any. Because Essentialists will commit and “go big” on only the vital few ideas or activities, they explore more options at first to ensure they pick the right one later.

ESCAPE: Enjoy the perks of being unavailable Whether you can invest two hours a day, two weeks a year, or even just five minutes every morning, it is important to make space to escape in your busy life. When was your last episode of deep reflection? Pablo Picaso said, “Without great solitude, no serious work is possible.

  • The overworked pastor is too busy doing ministry to think about life
  • The essential pastor creates space to escape and explore life

EXPLORE: Observe what really matters Essentialists are powerful observers and listeners. Knowing that the reality of trade-offs means they can’t possibly pay attention to everything, they listen deliberately for what is not being explicitly stated. What have others been saying that you haven’t wanted to listen to? What has God been saying to you? What are people talking about everyday about the ministry?

  • The overworked pastor pays attention to the loudest voice
  • The essential pastor pays attention to the signal in the noise

EVALUATE: Decide what matters most Through process of escaping and exploring the goal is to evaluate. What ministry is most important? Where is God a work? What relationships require the most energy? What is the most important thing I must today to advance the mission? Of course these questions can be asked for seasons in ministry or your task list this week. In my work with churches we try answer this first on the broadest level, “What can your church do better than 10,000 others?” We call it the Kingdom Concept. Only then do we move further in the process of planning.

  • The overworked pastor is overwhelmed by all the information
  • The essential pastor scans to find the essence of the information

ESSENTIAL LIVING: You can do it As you decide what matters most, you will run into things that wage war with your decision—the trivial many will want to push there way through! Specifically I struggle with three- the momentum of yesterday, the emotion of the moment, and the interruptions of the day. It’s natural to struggle, but the more you practice the more you’ll progress.  The single greatest tool I use in general to be an “essential pastor” is the Vision Frame that guides my ministry, my family and my life. The single greatest tool I use to practice essentialism each day, is to identify the two most important things I can accomplish by 11:00am.

October 25, 2014

Life is Like Whitewater: 5 Strategies for How to Ride

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 3.56.03 PMWe wall want to live with purpose.

One of my very short-term mentors is Kevin McCarthy. While I was still on the pastoral staff at Clear Creek Community Church, Kevin came in to consult with us. He modeled what expert facilitation looked like and spoke with great skill about organizational vision. One of his books is the On-Purpose Person and this post is taken from it.  Kevin skillfully summarizes what I am calling five strategies for making it through life. As you consider these it will help you live with purpose.

Imagine your life to be like a boat on a river of time. You captain your vessel. Some stretches of the river are smooth and quiet; other parts are turbulent with rapids. Most of the river is an endless converging and mixing of currents and conditions that inevitably move you along. The river exists, but its flow is indifferent to your presence. The harsh reality of ‘the real world’ inevitably hits us. How we deal with it matters. I’ve given the responses nicknames: floaters, fighters, fleers, flitters, and navigators.

Strategy #1: Floaters

  • Passively resign themselves to accept the river in its present condition
  • Aimlessly go along for the ride
  • Are unwilling to accept responsibility for altering their experience
  • Complain the whole time about how unfair the world is

Strategy #2: Fighters

  • Fight the forces of nature
  • Glory in ‘victories’ from time to time
  • Tout the virtues of perseverance and commitment
  • Fail to realize how little control they possess
  • Suffer from burnout, stress, and exhaustion because their strategy is futile

Strategy #3: Fleers

  • Check out of all responsibility and flee the flow of society
  • Fall into self-indulgent behaviors
  • Retreat from society in order to cope with their fear

Strategy #4: Flitters

  • Jump from job to job, person to person, or place to place
  • Are always searching but rarely finding what they’re looking for in life
  • Are masters at starting over but rarely take root
  • Feel productive because of their busyness, but never gain traction

We may all be floaters, fighters, fleers, or flitters to some degree, but these actions should be a technique, not a way of life. Navigating life and appropriately using these methods is the point. Strategy #5: Navigators

  • Know the flow, navigate to go
  • Accept the river and its ever-changing conditions
  • Are not resigned to futile determinism
  • Have not foolishly tried to change nature’s course
  • Do not run away
  • Do not panic

The difference between the floaters/fighters//fleers/flitters and the navigators is knowing the river, equipping oneself, and harnessing these resources to work with the flow of water or time. In a couple of words, it’s “lifelong learning.” It’s living with purpose.

Each of us owns unique knowledge and life experiences. Add to this our talents, strengths, and gifts and gird it all with purpose, and we gain a powerful and potent combination. When times get tough, we captain ourselves as best we can or we get a more experienced navigator to guide us. This is why so many people today turn to life coaches to help them accelerate their personal growth and professional development. Coaches are like river guides for life. They bring their perspectives and experience to the situation for our benefit.

This last year, I began my first Personal Vision Cohort–a group of 15-20 people spending 12 months working diligently on finding and aligning their call from God. If you want to follow along with tools and learnings from this cohort, just look for the the keyword “younique.” Check #younique out on twitter or type it in the search box. It’s going to be a fun year! Let me know if you would like to be a part of the next group!