You've heard of annual reports, but have you thought of creating one for your church? The point of course is not to imitate a common corporate practice, but to leverage every opportunity to cast vision. As we scan a few reasons why you should do this, let's start with a definition.

Wiki: An annual report is a comprehensive report on a company's activities throughout the preceding year. Annual reports are intended to give shareholders and other interested people information about the company's activities and financial performance. The details provided in the report are of use to investors to understand the company's financial position and future direction.

Why you should leverage this communication tool:

#1 An annual report creates a great "excuse" to cast vision. Most people know what an annual report is, but don't expect their church to provide one. Why not leverage the "placeholder in their mind" to make  a positive impact?

#2 An annual report utilizes a natural rhythm for reflection and refocus. Remember, God created the cycle of a year. Since you use the year to define everything else in your life, why not use it to nourish the vision for people in the church?

#3 An annual report is a great tool to retell your best stories. Hopefully you've been sharing stories of life change throughout the year. Now tell them again. As a leader, it's important to know your "folklore-" the stories of God that are worth sharing over and over and over.

#4 An annual report is an act of gratitude toward God. What if you saw the process like writing a thank you note to God. Even if your church didn't have the best year, you have something for which you can express gratitude to God. Use the report to honor God and point people to Jesus.

#5 An annual report is a helpful accountability mechanism. I get that fact that accountability is not always fun. Sometimes you don't like prepping sermons. But this Sunday keeps you accountable. Chances are, no one is going to wake up and bug you for that 2011 annual report. That's what makes this point a big deal. You can initiate the commitment and hold yourself and your team accountable to this kind of vision casting.

#6 An annual report builds credibility with people. While an annual report is not everyone's "love language," some people will take a giant step forward because you took the time to provide this tool. It shows the leadership's  willingness to be honest with financial information and communicates the deeper "whys" behind ministry decisions and direction.

#7 An annual report is a perfect project to experiment with some new talent and creativity. Since this communication tool is not weekly or urgent, you can recruit some people who are new or uninvolved and see what they produce. If you haven't done a report, you have nothing to loose by trying. Ask them for something fresh and different. Here are a few examples of reports to get the creative minds sparked.

If you plan on doing an annual report for the first time, I would love to hear about it. If you would like some help with great design and vision casting for the your church annual report, let me us know at Auxano Design