The quality of any tradesman is determined in large part by the quality of their tools. Even though leaders lead through ideas and people, the same fact is true. But because the church leader deals with the invisible world: things of the Spirit, and nebulous outcomes like "life change" and "transformation," it's easy to under-appreciate the importance of tools.
Think for a minute about a leader's first tool. When I say "first" I mean both first in importance and first in logical sequence. Consider the question by remembering Adam's first act of leadership. He didn't pick up a flint or a hammer or a wheel. He used a word and he named the animals. The leader's first tool is his or her words. Words create worlds. What are you saying these days as a leader?
The master tools I created help organize and refine how you think as a leader first, so that everything you say is clear. Clarity isn't everything, but it changes everything. For example, clarity makes our uniqueness undeniable. It makes our direction unquestionable. It makes enthusiasm transferrable. It makes the future tangible.
The master tools require some process time to develop and use, ensuring that you are guided by God in community with your team. The result is more passion and ownership in your life and in your team dynamics. The result is more meaningful progress every single day that you lead; more humble confidence and more personal freedom every time you share what God is doing.
You will note that many posts have an image in the lower right hand corner that "keys" the ideas of the post to a master tool.
The Vision Frame
The Vision Frame is easy to draw on a whiteboard or napkin and is the primary subject of my book Church Unique. It sets up the five irreducible questions of clarity: each side of the frame and the middle of the frame represent a question. We use the Vision Frame to first walk through the developmental process to answer the questions. Then we use it to talk about and transfer the most important things in your church. The five questions are:
- What are we ultimately supposed to be doing? (Mission)
- Why are we doing it? (Values)
- How are we doing it? (Strategy)
- When are we successful? (Mission Measures)
- Where is God taking us? (Vision Proper)
The Vision Frame may be used for any organization or any team. It works for a family and it works for you personally. When used for the church I like to say that it defines your "unique disciple-making mission and model." When used personally (Younique) we rename the four sides of the frame to be a person's LifeCall, LifeCore, LifeSteps and LifeScore.
The Horizon Storyline
The Horizon Storyline is the primary subject of my book God Dreams and is easy to draw on a whiteboard or napkin, just like the Vision Frame. In fact I like to say that it "snaps into" the center of the Vision Frame to become the fully developed picture of "Where God is taking you." At it's essence the Horizon Storyline is the right amount of vision content at the right amount of time in the future for the entire leadership team. It breaks your picture of the future down into four time horizons:
- Beyond-The-Horizon (5-20 years)
- Background Horizon (3 years)
- Mid-ground Horizon (1 year)
- Foreground Horizon (90 days)
Like the Vision Frame the tool is used first to develop your vision and then can be used to teach and transfer the vision in any team setting. It works for any size organization, family or individual. It limits the visionary plan to no more than 10 ideas total, but focuses the church on one big goal at a time. It fuses the dreamers and the doers on your team and creates an easy-to-share "story" of your plan.
The Better Discipleship Window
The Better Discipleship Window is the primary subject of my book Innovating Discipleship. It sets up the four paths of innovation by creating a simple grid. The grid looks at the question of change: Do we need to change our disciple-making model? Do we need to change our disciple-making results? How you answer those questions determines whether innovation is about:
- Maximizing (same model, same results)
- Adapting (new model, same results)
- Infusing (same model, new results)
- Creating (new model, new results)
Whatever your path forward the Window teaches you to think like a "ministry designer." It contains 16 super-questions, four for each pathway.
How do you want disciple-making to be different in the next two years at your church?
In my latest book, Future Church, I share how the Program Church model, which has become prevalent over the last 20 years, is built on one funnel: the assimilation funnel. This funnel is wide on the left side and thin on the right side, because as people move through it to deeper involvement in the church's programs, fewer people engage.
The empowerment funnel is thin on the left side and becomes wide on the right. In the empowerment funnel, the goal is not deeper engagement with church programs. The goal is to release people to live out their special calling from God outside the walls of the church—where they live, work, and play.
The key truth of Funnel Fusion is that the assimilation funnel isn't bad, it's just not enough by itself to create and sustain real church growth. The assimilation funnel must be fused with the empowerment funnel to multiply the kind of growth every pastor longs for—growth that is demonstrated by followers of Jesus living on mission for Him every single day.