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)

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! 

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.

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 27, 2014

The 6 Areas of Break-thru that Church Teams Need Most

The New Auxano Church ConsultingTwo months ago we celebrated the 10-year milestone of Auxano. Back in February 2004, we built into the DNA of Auxano the idea that our services would always adapt to the primary growth challenges of local churches.  Today, with over twenty on the team, we are responding to the needs of churches with our boldest move ever.

In fact, we have re-articulated our mission and strategy to reflect how we address the challenges of the growing churches we serve. Our new mission is Creating break-thru clarity with church teams to realize their vision.  Our new strategy is providing five primary services around the “cornerstone” core service of vision clarity, using what has now become the highly celebrated Vision Framing process.  This “services map” is pictured above and below in expanded form. Some of these services we have provided for years “under the waterline.” Other have been in R&D for the past two years. Every service is an approximate 6-month break-thru process with your team. 

As we get ready to roll out the “new Auxano,” I would like to ask your help and give you something. First, I want give you what will be our best monthly resource to date. I invite you to sign-up for our new Break-thru Leader monthly. It will share insights and stories of churches realizing their vision from our six services.

Sign-up here

You’ll get digital grand opening announcement along with a special edition TeamUP download. After 10 years were have created Our Top 10 Exercises for Great Team Moments. Second, I would love your feedback!  Simply read the statements below for each of our services. Which one reflects your greatest challenge at this time? Thanks for taking a second to let me know. You can simply write a single word in the comments to cast your vote.

Screen Shot 2014-04-27 at 10.20.50 AM