How to Create a Blueprint for Ministry Model Change

Looking back, 2016 was truly a landmark year. From Olympics to Elections to Chewbacca Mom, the year contained moments worth sharing and remembering. The year contained new beginnings, new opportunities and the potential for new ministry impact.

Maybe 2016 was also supposed to be the year that you finally implemented a discipleship strategy, but there never seemed to be enough time, the right team or an applicable model. In this, the last issue of SUMS Remix for 2016, the Auxano team wants to help you jumpstart the implementation of an intentional discipleship strategy for 2017. We are proud to feature disciple-making strategy solutions from three foundational books of the Auxano Vision Framing process.

There is no time like right now to develop a discipleship strategy that engages hearts and inspires growing faith every day. Do not let 2017 slip away. Start building the disciples of tomorrow, today.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Innovating Discipleship, by Will Mancini

Everyone is talking about discipleship, but too many churches stick to business as usual. Sunday comes and Sunday goes. The preacher preaches, the band worships, money gets put in the plate and people get back to their busy, unaffected lives. Hasn’t God called us to more?

Will Mancini thinks so, and that’s what Innovating Discipleship is all about. Innovating Discipleship is for church leaders who have growing discontent for “best practicing” and “fast following.” Is God calling you to re-dream and re-invent beyond the ministry models that were handed to you?

In this potent book, Mancini uncovers the primary obstacle in the minds of pastors that keeps discipleship stuck – revealed through thousands of hours of coaching with church leaders. He calls it the “default vision switch.”

More importantly, Innovating Discipleship gives you a simple and powerful tool to guide you, step by step, into the freedom and confidence of real discipleship, for your time and your place. In the end, there are only four paths to getting the results you have always wanted. Which path will be right for you?

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

One of the greatest challenges in helping church leaders through a vision process is quickly getting them to agree on “what is,” “what could be,” and then “what should be.” How do you start? How do you bring all of these very different perspectives together?

There are three approaches to church strategy:

  • More is more
  • Less is more
  • To be is more

Let’s ask three simple questions to identify what kind of approach represents your church.

1) Rhythm question: How many weekly engagements do we expect of people?

2) Purpose question: What are the purposes of the weekly engagements and how do they relate?

3) Environments question: Do these engagements take place in “church space” or “life space” or both?

Please don’t underestimate the simplicity and power of these questions. How a church answers these questions reveals an “operational logic” and an underlying belief system about the nature of the church.

Here is a brief description and simple diagram for these approaches.

MORE IS MORE

A “more is more” approach is seen in a church in which the basic operating assumption is that the more programs a church can offer in the “church space” the better. The hope is that more programs will attract more people and provide opportunities for spiritual growth.

LESS IS MORE

The “less is more” approach operates with the assumption that the church should provide a few high quality offerings. Whether or not these offerings take place in church space or life space is a variable. In addition, the church attempts to design these offerings so that they have a meaningful relationship to one another. Ideally, the program offerings are designed around a unified set of output (discipleship) results.

TO BE IS MORE

The “to be is more” approach operates with the assumption that the church should provide as little as needed in terms of weekly offerings in order to maximize output (discipleship) results in “life space.” With a greater focus on “life space,” each engagement is forced to have great clarity of purpose, and output (discipleship) results necessarily play a greater role in the church’s identity. This strategy requires a stronger presence of leadership and tool development.

Spiritual formation doesn’t happen in a program at the church. It happens by living your life. We really need to stay away from creating programs as our goal. Programs have their place, but they must be subordinated to the spiritual life.

– Dallas Willard

Think of your church’s ministry model as a pattern of “engagements” that are designed to produce certain outcomes. Engagements include any array of activities you offer from worship to mission trips. They are what you promote each week in your worship guide and everyday on your website. They include all of groups, classes, events, and initiatives that a church can offer. They include programs at church or anywhere away from the church, like a home-based life group or a community-based service initiative. If it’s a place I can go or something I can do in the name of your church, it’s an engagement.

Will Mancini, Innovating Discipleship

A NEXT STEP

Diagnosis – As you scan these three pictures above, which approach describes your church’s current strategy? Draw the diagram for your leadership team. Be sure to include all the various ministries you church currently offers.

Results – Looking at these three approaches to church strategy can help make connections between our ministry models and the results they are designed to produce. If you are unsatisfied with your current discipleship results, it is time to change your model.

Decision – Now you can better answer the question “Is it better to use our existing ministry model or to introduce a change?” What change would you introduce?

Every model of ministry today can be summarized by three different approaches; these approaches create a useful portal for discussing ministry model design for better results.

As you consider changing your current strategy or creating a new one, keep the following essential practices in mind.

Clarity: Innovation must be anchored in clarity first. Clarity isn’t everything but it changes everything. Clarity is the least understood innovation essential among church leaders.

Margin: If you don’t stop doing something, you’ll never start doing something better. Margin is essential. It’s the most neglected innovation essential to church staffs.

Heart: All innovation is a solution to a prior problem and people won’t care about your innovation until they emotionally connected to the problem. Heart is the most underappreciated essential for ministry leaders.

Team: Time and time again, the best ideas come from the collaborative engine of a team. For church leaders, leaning into team is the most inconvenient innovation essential.

Excerpted from SUMS Remix #56, December 2016


 

Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

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Make Your 2nd Half of Marriage a Time of Incredible Fulfillment

The second half of your marriage (when the kids leave home, and/or when you are helping with your own parent’s lifestyle decisions) can be a time of incredible fulfillment, no matter what challenges you previously faced.

It can be a time of learning about each other and about God’s long-term plans for your marriage. And a time of building together – sharing dreams, making commitments, and working towards a more satisfying union.

Having just celebrated my 38th anniversary on December 8, I sought out resources to help answer this question:

How can we make the second half of our marriage even better than the first?

David and Claudia Arp’s book “The Second Half of Marriage” has provided a lot of helpful guidance in starting out on the journey of the second half of marriage. Yesterday, I posted four strategies they outline in their book. Here, in their own words, are the final four:

  1. Build a deeper friendship and enjoy your spouse. Now is a great time to deepen your friendship with each other and stretch your boundaries to prevent boredom. Think of ways to put more fun in your marriage.
  2. Renew romance and restore a pleasurable sexual relationship. Many people assume that as people grow older they lose interest in sex, but our survey results suggest otherwise. The quality of your love life is not so much a matter of performance as it is an integral part of the relationship. Take care of your health and renew romance even while acknowledging the inevitable changes that come with aging.
  3. Adjust to changing roles with aging parents and adult children. Release your children, then reconnect with them on an adult level. At the same time, your relationship with your parents may need a little altering, too. The effort you expend in forging better relationships with loved ones on both ends of the generational seesaw is well worth it.
  4. Evaluate where you are on your spiritual pilgrimage. Research indicates that most people, as they age and consider death, become more religious because they think more about what it all means. Why not consider this time of transition as an opportunity to talk more openly and regularly about your relationship with Christ: what it means, why it matters, and what it means for your marriage? Take time to serve others, too, and pass along some of the wisdom you have gained.

In addition to the wealth of material in the book, the Arps provide additional resources through their Marriage Alive website.


And now for the whole picture of our wedding party – December 8, 1979, at First Baptist Church, Goodlettsville, TN.

It’s day 13,882 for Anita and me – and our journey together continues!

How to Make a Great Second Half of Marriage

Happy Anniversary, Anita!

How can you make the second half of your marriage better than the first?

That question is always in the back of our mind as Anita and I celebrate our 38th anniversary today, December 8, 2017. Loosely defined, the second half of marriage comes when your kids have left home; it may also be marked by decisions a couple is making about their parent’s health and lifestyle.

We’ve got both.

I found a great resource to help begin charting this journey: David and Claudia Arp’s wonderful book The Second Half of Marriage. In their own words, here are the first four (of eight) strategies that will help every long-term couple make the most of their marriage:

  1. Let go of past marital disappointments, forgive each other and commit to making the rest of your marriage the best. Are you willing to let go of unmet expectations and unrealistic dreams? Or your mate’s little irritating habits that don’t seem to be disappearing? Giving up lost dreams and overlooking each other’s imperfections are positive steps toward forgiving past hurts and moving on in your marriage.
  2. Create a marriage that is partner-focused rather than child-focused. The tendency, once the kids leave, is to focus on new activities rather than on each other, but these activities can keep you from crafting a more intimate relationship. Try to focus more time and attention on your spouse.
  3. Maintain effective communication that allows you to express your deepest feelings, joys and concerns. Sometimes what worked when the kids were home doesn’t work as well now that the kids are gone. After all, you always had the children to talk about. Now that it’s just the two of you, you might need to upgrade your communication skills.
  4. Use anger and conflict creatively to build your relationship. With the kids gone, many couples find that issues they assumed were resolved resurface. Certain negative patterns of interaction that developed over the years can be deadly for an empty-nest marriage. Learn how to deal with issues and process anger in ways that build your relationship.

Tomorrow, the other four strategies from “The Second Half of Marriage”, as well as some other resources and ideas.

But in the meantime, I have the most beautiful bride ever:

She still is!

13,881 days and counting!!

 

 

Make the Leap to Using Visuals Evoking Emotion

Does your team seem to be using more and more words, yet communicating less and less?

Today more than ever, we live in a visual society. Especially in the online world, everyone relies on the power of photos and engagement of video.

While researching a project recently, I was struck by three surprising data points from visual communicator Dan Roam:

  • Research from IBM found that 90% of all data collected in history has been generated in the last two years.
  • Research from Cisco found that 90% of all data transmitted online today is visual.
  • Roam’s experience indicates that 90% of leaders have no idea how to effectively use visuals in their business.

90%-90%-90%. We’re generating more data than ever, that data is overwhelmingly visual, and most of us don’t know how to use images. No matter what business you’re in, the future of your business is visual.

As a church leader, it is incumbent that you get better at using visual images in your communication.

Whether drawing them, looking at them, or talking about them, visual communication adds enormously to your listener’s ability to think, to remember, and to do.

Visual imagery is, in itself, another whole language. Being fluent in that language gives us mind-boggling power to articulate thoughts, communicate those thoughts, and solve problems in ways we otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

It’s time to make the leap and use visuals to evoke emotion.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Visual Hammer, by Laura Ries

The best way into a mind is not with words at all. The best way into a mind is with visuals.

But not any visual. You need a “visual hammer” that hammers a verbal nail. The Marlboro cowboy. Coca-Cola’s contour bottle. Corona’s lime.

The cowboy hammers “masculinity.” The contour bottle hammers “authenticity.” The lime hammers “genuine Mexican beer.”

A trademark is not a visual hammer. Almost every brand has a trademark, but fewer than one out of a hundred brands have a visual hammer. A trademark is a rebus which communicates nothing except the name of the brand.

A visual hammer, on the other hand, communicates the essence of the brand.

Visual Hammer is the first book to document the superiority of the “hammer and nail” approach to branding. Some examples.

  • The pink ribbon that made Susan G. Komen for the Cure the largest nonprofit foundation to fight breast cancer.
  • The Aflac duck that increased Aflac’s name recognition from 12 percent to 94 percent.
  • The green jacket which made the Masters the most-prestigious golf tournament.
  • The watchband which made Rolex the largest-selling luxury watch.
  • Colonel Sanders who made KFC the world’s largest chicken chain.

Why are marketing plans usually nothing but words when the best way into a mind is with the emotional power of a visual?

After reading Visual Hammer, you might want to tear up your current marketing plan and start fresh.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

In a typical organization – and that includes churches – there is a whole gang of smart people so overwhelmed by verbal data that they’re hard pressed to know what to pay attention to.

That’s where pictures come in.

The basics of visual thinking have nothing to do with being an artist, or creating impressive designs using the latest computer application. Visual thinking is learning to think with your eyes.

Everyone already has good visual thinking skills, even if they don’t acknowledge it. Visual thinking is a very powerful way to communicate information that will help solve problems. It may appear to be something new, but the fact is, we already know how to do it.

Visual thinking starts with understanding the power of the image.

When you live in a world of word, you tend to see the visual world as secondary to verbal reality. Yet nature is visual, not verbal.

Take a walk in the park. Scuba dive in the ocean. Climb a mountain. This is reality and there are no words in nature. Words are useful devices to communicate the reality of nature.

Photographs, illustrations and drawing are artificial, but they too are a more direct representation of nature than are words.

The Coca-Cola bottle is not just a bottle. It is a visual hammer that nails in the idea that Coke is the original cola, the authentic cola, the real thing. In a Coca-Cola commercial, the visuals speak louder than the words. That’s the work of a visual hammer.

That’s the difference between designing a trademark and designing a visual hammer. Almost every brand has a trademark, but few brands have visual hammers.

A visual hammer doesn’t just repeat your brand name; it hammers a specific word into the mind. For brands that can create and dominate a new category, that word is “leadership.”

When you live in a world of words, you tend to see the visual world as secondary to verbal reality. Yet nature is visual, not verbal.

A visual hammer makes an emotional impact on the right side of the consumer’s brain which motivates the left side of the brain to verbalize the idea and then store it.

Your right brain doesn’t think in the normal sense of what we mean by “thinking.” It reacts emotionally and involuntarily.

To develop a hammer you need a narrow focus you can visualize in a dramatic way.

Don’t fret about narrow concepts not appealing to as many people as broader ones. Better to use a narrow concept to motivate a segment of the market rather than a broad concept that motivates no one.

Laura Ries, Visual Hammer

A NEXT STEP

Explore the power of visual images in solving problems with the following exercise.

Write down a list of at least four questions about a ministry situation or problem you team has recently faced.

Cluster the questions in four groups, giving each set a title.

Bring your team together around a table, and give them a large sheet of paper. Ask you team to create a quadrant by drawing two lines on their paper.

Place magazines, newspapers, precut pictures, fabrics, thread, color pencils, and glue sticks in the sender of the table. Provide plenty of materials in order for all participants to use simultaneously.

Each team member will use the materials on the table to visually answer their question. Designate a time limit for the exercise.

When completed, ask each team member to present and explain their collages. As a group, determine the single best image that represents the best answer for each question.

This exercise demonstrates the power of visual images in answering questions or problems you are encountering.


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

Good Design Gets You in the Game…

…great design is the game winner.

Welcome to the world where design is king.

 

In the old days, designers were an afterthought, the people at the end of the production process. Engineers would hand over something that was functionally effective and have the designers make it look good. Those days are over.

Today, design is about experiences as well as products. It’s about services as much as it is hard goods.

Design is now differentiation.

Alan Webber, founder of Fast Company magazine and author of “Rules of Thumb,” puts it this way: Today companies use design to:

  • create distinctive products and services that capture their customers’ imaginations
  • restructure their corporate operations
  • unveil new logos and uniforms that express a fresh corporate identity
  • develop new communications tools that connect with customers and shareholders
  • build corporate offices that encourage and enable collaboration
  • collect and share information across a global platform

Design is a way to solve deep-seated social problems. And design is a money saver, a way to simplify products and make them easier and less expensive to manufacture and sell. Across the board designers have defines a way of seeing that adds to the delight of customers and the profitability of companies.

Application to ChurchWorld

You probably already understand this on some level. You understand that the design of your website says more about you and provides a quick glimpse of your “brand”. You know that the little – and not so little – things like the design of your logo and your letterhead, the print pieces you use, the “flow” of your worship experience all communicate instantly what your church is all about.

But if you are still a design novice, and want to learn more, here are Webber’s three ways to begin to crack the design code:

  • Reading – you may be a word person and you want to try to learn about seeing. Dan Pink’s “A Whole New Mind,” Tim Brown’s “Design Thinking,” Tom Kelley’s “The Art of Innovation” and “The Ten Faces of Innovation,” Jeanne Liedtka and Tim Ogilvie’s “Designing for Growth,” and Don Norman’s “The Design of Everyday Things” are required reading. Get one of them today; start reading it tonight, and put it into action tomorrow.
  • Viewing – You need to practice seeing. Go to an art museum; browse a furniture showroom gallery; check out the latest model cars. The more you look at objects like these, the more you appreciate great design. You’re not buying, so don’t worry about price. Look carefully at the lines, interior detailing and design, and the small things that make a big difference. “Seeing” is a critical skill for aspiring diagnosticians – like you.
  • Shopping – Go out and find an assortment of small objects that go in your home or office. Look at OXO products; visit an IKEA store. When you pick up one of these objects, you will immediately understand what “consumer-centered design” means. Go to an office supply store and sit in an Aeron chair. Look at the latest products from Apple: iPhone, iPad, the latest MacBook Air. Go to an antique store and see what great design looked like in the past. Take a virtual shopping trip to your heart’s content. When you have collected these objects (or examined them enough), what do these products have in common? Are they as good to look at as they are fun to use? Is there an emotional content to their design?

You don’t have to buy anything to get the idea. But you do have to buy into the idea:

Design is everywhere, and increasingly, design is everything.

 

Build Team Alignment to Your Vision by Celebrating Individual Significance

Does your team have general agreement around your vision, but lack ownership and alignment?

Effective teams do not just agree on vision, they own it and align every ounce of energy and effort toward accomplishing the vision. As a leader, you can sense the difference between your team liking the vision and your team leading toward vision.

In most instances, simple agreement feels like an invisible wall sits somewhere within the team. A divide of mistrust, misunderstanding, or missed input often exists in the origination of the vision. This always leads to misalignment and missed opportunity in the execution of vision.

Every busy week brings a fresh truckload of glass bricks for your team to stack on this invisible wall. No one has ill motives. No one intends cement separation, but the walls go up without conscious notice as the pace of ministry continues.

The good news is that it’s NOT rocket science to take down a wall. Haven’t you noticed it’s easier (and usually more fun) to demolish than it is to build? What your team needs are sledgehammers to take down these hard-to-see barriers.

How do you tear down your team’s invisible walls?

Celebrate individual significance to the vision.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – The Volunteer Project

As a church or nonprofit leader who relies on volunteer teams to get the job done each week, you know how difficult it can be to keep all of your volunteer roles filled.You feel overworked and understaffed, with a budget smaller than your vision. Sometimes your ministry can feel like it has a revolving door, simultaneously bringing in new volunteers as current ones leave.The cycle of volunteer recruitment and turnover can be overwhelming, leading to frustration and distracting from the mission.

In The Volunteer Project, the authors introduce you to four strategies that, when applied, will launch your church or nonprofit ministry into what they call a zero recruitment model of volunteerism.

Formulated from the authors’ research, combined 50+ years of experience in leading volunteer teams, and the feedback of hundreds of volunteers, these four strategies are designed to provide individuals with such satisfying volunteer experiences that they are motivated to continue volunteering, and even invite their friends to join them.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Our lives are both too busy and too short to spend our time doing things that don’t connect with the core of who we are. Even when we enjoy doing something, and the doing of it brings satisfaction, the experience is tainted if it is not fulfilling. It is very important that volunteers experience fulfillment and satisfaction in the roles and ministries they are connected to.

Leaders have a responsibility to help their teams not only serve in fulfilling roles, but to help their team members see how they are a significant part of the overall vision.

Deep within each of us is an inner desire to live a life of significance and meaning. We all long for a better future. We want to make a difference. We want to leave the world a better place. Something magical happens when a person’s search for significance collides with an opportunity to be a part of something bigger than oneself.

As leaders, when we understand the power of pairing personal participation with widespread impact, we approach every volunteer position as a platform to assist each unique individual in discovering their potential. As leaders of volunteers, it is our responsibility to assist them in unlocking and developing hidden or underused gifts. When we approach our volunteers with this mindset, our focus shifts from what they can do for us to what God can do through them. In this manner, we are celebrating their significance by doing the hard work of connecting them to opportunities that fulfill their search for meaning.

Within most of our ministries and organizations, we have a clear outline of the positions we need fulfilled. I can imagine right now you might be asking the question, “Is it possible to fill volunteer vacancies, provide meaning to each individual volunteer, and still fulfill the mission of my organization?” The good news is yes! When you understand the types of personalities and giftedness that best fills each unique volunteer role, you are better able to communicate with volunteers. And when they are provided with straightforward communication and an understandable job description, volunteers are able to thrive in accomplishing the mission.

A new volunteer is like an unopened present with layers to be unwrapped. As leaders, we get to peel back these layers by providing opportunities for volunteers to use their gifts to make a meaningful difference.

It’s a win-win! We have the honor and responsibility of helping individuals discover their unique gifts in serving Christ, and they help fulfill the vision and mission of our organization.That partnership is exactly how God intended it to be.

When you skillfully cast vision, you are connecting a volunteer’s inner search for meaning to tangible actions and relationships. Volunteers who feel the exhilaration of thriving in a role become committed to their role within the organization. Once they experience how what they do meets a deep need within them to fulfill God’s unique purpose in and through their life, you may find it is difficult to convince them to volunteer anywhere else.

– Darren Kizer, Christine Kreisher, Steph Whitacre, TheVolunteerProject

A NEXT STEP

How effective is vision communication within your team? To measure your effectiveness, conduct the following exercise.

Gather your team for a “significance” check-up…

  • Ask each team member to come prepared to talk about a time in the last six months when they felt that they made a significant contribution to the church’s vision.
  • First, prepare to edify their contribution and bring at least one example for each team member when you saw them contribute in a significant way. (This is helpful if a team member cannot see their contribution on their own).
  • After each team member shares, follow-up with additional questions that reveal their particular leadership strengths at work in that contribution.
  • Now discuss with the team how they might celebrate the contributions of their volunteer teams in a similar way.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 50-1, September 2016


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “summary” for church leaders. Each Wednesday I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt here.

Great Design is…

Utterly unexpected. A brilliantly designed product or service is clever and amazing. Think anything Apple.

Amazingly competent. A well-conceived product excels at what it does. It is functionally flawless. Think a Ziploc bag or Google’s home page.

Aesthetically exquisite. At the pinnacle of great design are products so gorgeous you want to hug them. Think a Porsche 911.

Conspicuously conscientious. Consumers (especially those under 30) are demanding socially responsible products and services that reflect a sense of stewardship for the environment and a passion for making a difference. Think Prius.

Unfortunately, design is still an afterthought in most organizations. Great design is less about genius than empathy – and it’s often the tiniest things that make the biggest difference.

– from Gary Hamel’s What Matters Now

Designing takes place in the uncomfortable gap between vision and reality.

Marty Neumeier, The Designful Company

Design is not just about products, even though that is often our first and only thought when it comes to design.

Design is change.

You need to find a situation worth improving and then work through the creative process.

For ChurchWorld Design Thinkers (aka Leaders)

  • What are the thoughtless little ways we irritate our members and Guests and what can we do to change that?
  • What are the small, unexpected delights we could deliver to our members and Guests at virtually no cost?

Design Thinking Matters.

courtesy richworks.in

courtesy richworks.in