February 13, 2016

Transform Every Ministry Meeting with One Big Idea (#SUMS Edition 1.8)

Ministry MeetingsBlog readers please note: Starting in 2016, I will be routinely posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders.  SUMS takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 editions per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

>>> You can purchase a subscription to SUMS Remix here >>>

So how can you transform every ministry meeting with one big idea? It starts with understanding that every organization and every team experiences drift to see meetings as the work, rather than as a support tool for the work Here is the way we unpacked it last year in SUMS Remix edition 1.8.

Solution #3: Design meetings for one purpose: to support decisions.


How many times have you dreaded going to a meeting either because you viewed it as a waste of time or because you weren’t prepared?

Read This Before Our Next Meeting not only explains what’s wrong with “the meeting,” and meeting culture, but suggests how to make meetings more effective, efficient, and worthy of attending. It assesses when it’s necessary to skip the meeting and get right to work.

Read This Before Our Next Meeting is the call to action you (or your boss) need to create the organization that does the meaningful work it was created to do.


The profound tragedy of meetings is that everyone feels a benefit from calling a meeting but few of us benefit from attending.

Church leaders know in a real and visceral way that they have too many meetings, and too many of those meetings are bad! The resulting broken meeting culture is changing how teams focus, what they focus on, and most important, what decisions are made.

Ministry is a complex beast, and meetings can help tame the beast – but only meetings that insure intelligent decisions are made and to confirm that our teams are collaborating together in carrying out those decisions.

Church ministry teams don’t need standard, mediocre meetings that are all about making excuses and engaging in internal politics. It’s those types of meetings that keep leaders from doing the real ministry work they were called to do.

Traditional meetings are treated as just another form of communication. They’re just another item to be included in the same category as e-mail, memos, and phone calls. Meetings are too expensive and disruptive to justify using them for the most common types of communication, like making announcements, clarifying issues, or even gathering intelligence.

Seven Principles of the Modern Meeting

  1. The Modern Meeting convenes to support a decision that has already been made. The Modern Meeting focuses on the only two activities worth convening for: conflict and coordination.
  1. The Modern Meeting moves fast and ends on schedule. Traditional meetings seem to go on forever, with no end in sight. Strong deadlines force parties to resolve the hard decisions necessary for progress.
  1. The Modern Meeting limits the number of attendees. If you have no strong opinion, have no interest in the outcome, and are not instrumental for any coordination that needs to take place, you aren’t needed in the meeting.
  1. The Modern Meeting rejects the unprepared. The agenda should clearly state the problem, the alternatives, and the decision. It should outline exactly the sort of feedback requested, and it should end with a statement of what this meeting will deliver if it’s successful. Anything that’s not on the agenda doesn’t belong in the meeting.
  1. The Modern Meeting produces committed action plans. These plans should include at least the following: 1) What actions are we committing to? 2) Who is responsible for each action? 3) When will these actions be completed?
  1. The Modern Meeting refuses to be informational. Reading memos is mandatory. Teams must share complete thoughts that are actually worth reading and responding to – and everyone must read it all in advance.
  1. The Modern Meeting works only alongside a culture of brainstorming. These sessions are dedicated to the creation of possibilities, a place where the imagination is allowed to run free and generate a plethora of ideas, from which innovation can be born.

Al Pittampalli, Read This Before Our Next Meeting


Management genius Peter Drucker said that meetings were by definition a concession to deficient organization. Teams can either meet or work, but they can’t do both at the same time.

It’s time for your ministry team to do real work through a revised meeting structure by taking the following actions:

  • Distribute the Seven Principles of the Modern Meeting listed above and ask your team members to review and reflect on them for the purpose of supporting the decision to establish a Modern Meeting process.
  • Schedule a one-hour time in which each member of your team will prepare concerns and solutions to implementing the Modern Meeting process in ministry setting.
  • Following this meeting, develop a set of action plans to implement the Modern Meeting process for a three-month trial period.
  • Throughout the trial period, constantly reinforce progress and concerns via information shared among all team members.
  • As a part of the trial, schedule weekly brainstorming sessions to help support the Modern Meeting process (see #7 above).
  • At the conclusion of the trial period, decide and commit on following – or not following – the Modern Meeting process.

Taken from SUMS Remix Edition 1.8, March 2015

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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 3, 2016

Andy Stanley’s Killer Secret to Church Fundraising (#SUMS Edition 1.7)

Church Fundraising

Blog readers please note: Starting in 2016, I will be routinely posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders.  SUMS takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 editions per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

>>> You can purchase a subscription to SUMS Remix here >>>

So what is Andy Stanley’s Killer Secret to Church Fundraising? It is using a powerful biblical principle and metaphor to reframe the believer’s opportunity to live a generous life. Here is the way we unpacked it last year in SUMS Remix:

PROBLEM STATEMENT  of Edition 1.7:  We have leaders who are reluctant to do another campaign. 

You have probably done capital campaigns before and many church goers are tired of the same old-school campaigns year after year. (By the way, that’s why we started Auxano campaigns as a vision-based resourcing service.)

Rallying people to a better future is not new.  Building leaders and directing energy is baseline to the human enterprise. But the church is still the HARDEST PLACE ON PLANET EARTH to focus. Whether it’s a breakout of congregational opinions, the rampant “sin of niceness” or a plague of risk aversion, getting the vision done is more fantasy than testimony.

Solution 1: Focus on the dynamics of fear vs. faith by using the biblical image of sowing seeds.


Fields of Gold is a practical and inspirational book based on the principle of sowing and reaping. If we sow fear, what will be our harvest? And conversely, if we sow faith, what will we grow?

In the book Andy Stanley unpacks our irrational fears about money, helping us to discover that generous giving is actually an invitation for our heavenly Father to get involved in our finances and resupply us with enough seed to sow generously throughout our lifetime.


Many people would like to be generous givers. But the realities of steadily rising prices of everyday goods, shrinking retirement funds, and an uncertain world economy give us pause. The questions come like a rushing whirlwind, burying good intentions:

  • How much can I afford to give?
  • What if I give away too much?
  • What if there s not enough left for me?

As Christians, we know that we should give but sometimes it’s so hard to take that step of faith and let go when it comes to our finances. Under the growing pressures to make ends meet each month, it’s easy to become irrational in our thinking about God, his faithfulness, and our role as stewards of his resources.

That line of irrational thinking quickly leads to a fear that obscures both our thinking and the facts of how we know God wants us to handle our finances.

If we truly believe that God is who he says he is we have no reason to fear. Doesn’t it make sense to trust the God of the Universe with your finances? Isn’t it time to put aside the worry and start living in confidence?

When you begin to view your wealth from God’s perspective, you’ll see that the thing to fear isn’t giving away too much, but sowing too little.

It’s important to realize that fear and faith often go hand in hand. By nature, when you pursue a growing faith you increase your exposure to potential fears.

It’s no accident that the Bible addresses this condition head-on. There’s no drought when it comes to verses designed to help us let go of our fears and embrace our God-given calling to be generous stewards rather than fearful owners. In Matthew 6:33, Jesus assures us that when we seek His kingdom first with our seed, we need not fear being wiped out: … “he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern.” (NLT)

When you begin to view your wealth from God’s perspective, you’ll see that the thing to fear isn’t giving away too much, but sowing too little.

You see, when we respond in fear to an invitation from God, we forfeit the reward of being faithful stewards. Sowing in faith results in an eternal crop. Cowering in fear yields empty fields.

Stepping outside your comfort zone is not careless irresponsibility, but a necessary act of obedience.

– Andy Stanley, Fields of Gold


Fear and faith are parallel concepts that must live constantly in tension. Doubt and indecision are actually ingredients for both our fears and our faith. If everything was a certainty, where does faith come in? Our faith is engaged when we stand on the edge of the unknown. By relying less on the visible and more on the invisible, we begin to exercise our faith. And in that moment of faith, we often are vulnerable to fear. When it comes to giving, many Christians know they should give, but our fear of “what could be” overtakes our faith.

The answer to this challenge comes in the biblical metaphor of sowing. God provides for us (seeds). But seeds weren’t made for holding; they were made for sowing. Unless we sow our seeds, we will never know the harvest they will bring.

Overcoming the tension of our fear and faith requires a simple, but profound change in our concept of ownership. Answer these two questions:

  • Who really owns your possessions?
  • Who’s calling the shots for you financially?

If we truly understand and believe that God owns it all, we have no basis for fear. And, if God also is the source of all our wealth, and is in charge its increase and decrease, then we have no reason not to give.

The path to a secure financial future is to get God involved as soon as possible. The sooner you become a sower of seeds and not a hoarder, the sooner you will reap the harvest.

Once we realize that it really is better to give than to receive, there’s no limit to what God will do with our gifts.

Taken from SUMS Remix 7, published February 2015.

>>> You can purchase a subscription to SUMS Remix here >>>