Saturday, October 25, 2014

How 2 simple questions & a little creativity transforms a hurtful past into a helpful future

Two simple questions with some friends yielded a deep dive discussion and the fruit of seeing ourselves more and more as beloved children of God.

"What was an experience in your childhood that helped you toward maturity? What was an experience in your childhood that hurt?"

Someone said, "The child is the parent of the adult." It simply means that the experiences of our childhood have helped shape us to be the people we are today.

With my friends we celebrated the help and then spent a good portion of our time exploring each person's hurt.

Now, for the creativity... We drew images that represented the hurts for each of us that cause us to act out of our woundedness in compensating ways (neediness, niceness, competence, or hurtfulness). These compensating identities disconnect us from our true selves and short-circuit our ability to truly love.

We then drew a little arrow to the right of each of our images that pointed to another image that represents what maturity might look like. We asked, "How do we get from here to there?"

For example, the story of a hurt that one of our guys told was a shame-based story of how he felt that he didn't fit in. The image of woundedness we chose for him was a puzzle piece with a ? inside. The image of wholeness (maturity, beloved child–ness) was a puzzle piece with a ! inside.

How do we move from immaturity to maturity? From a compensating identity to a mature identity? From woundedness to wholeness?

We repent and believe the gospel. We stop rationalizing and justifying our compensating behaviors that limit our love and wound people. We embrace the good news that Jesus has died on the cross to change everything. We are forgiven, accepted, complete, and transformed because of the cross and resurrection of Jesus. We can live unashamed. We do "fit in."

For the next time we meet, I've asked my friends to write down 5-6 biblically informed sentences of what they think Jesus would have said to them - to that little boy at the moment of his wound. It's what He's still saying.

I think it's going to be a powerful experience. I think it may exponentially grow our grasp on what it means to be beloved children of God. We can be increasingly set free from the wounds of the past that limit our love of God and others.

This simple little exercise might be a powerful tool for you, too, as you work to disciple your friends.

Thanks for all you are doing to be a Discipler! 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

5 ways clarity frees you to watch God work in ways you've never known

A few years ago, Will Mancini, co-founder of Auxano, participated in an online conference called “The NINES” where leaders shared game-changing moments in 6 minute testimonies. He discovered that these leaders embraced the value of vision clarity.

Principle: Clarity forms great teams.
Jorge Acevedo shared that gifted leaders hit a low ceiling if they don’t build teams around shared vision, values, and strategy.

Principle: Clarity reaches more people.
Neil Cole said that vision isn’t maximized if language is not simplified.

Principle: Clarity releases personal calling.
Jonathan Falwell warned that you will never fulfill your vision is you are copying someone else.

Principle: Greater clarity defines your unique contribution.
Stephen Furtick said that it’s hard to find your uniqueness in a culture of carbon copy.

Principle: Greater clarity helps people embrace change.
Carey Nieuwhof explained how failing to clarify the why behind what we do creates more resistance to change.


Because Auxano provides great tools to help bring about greater clarity, I am excited to invite you to an Auxano Church Unique co::LAB at Cuyahoga Valley Church. The co::LAB will be led by co-founder of Auxano, Jim Randall.

The Church Unique Vision co::LAB idea represents a continuous and collaborative (hence the double colon) laboratory to focus on your vision. You and 3 leaders from your church will pray and work together to clarify your vision. The group will be limited to 8-12 churches. To understand why this process is vital, check out the Auxano website. 

Session 1 Tuesday, November 4 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 2 Tuesday, December 16 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 3 Tuesday, January 13, 2015 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 4 Tuesday, February 10, 2015 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 5 Tuesday, March 3, 2015 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 6 Tuesday, April 7, 2015 from 11:30am to 4:00pm

For a more comprehensive overview of the co::LAB, check out the online brochure here. Request more information here. I would be happy to answer any additional questions you may have about the co:LAB. You can call me at 440-570-6277 or email me at rduncan@cvconline.org for more information. You can access the Auxano Consulting Services Agreement here.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

7 reasons why serving the poor will change your life

I am so pleased about Cuyahoga Valley Church’s involvement with Open Table, coming alongside persons in poverty in order to not just give them a handout but give them a hand up. At CVC, The Open Table has already been transformational.

Here are just a few principles gleaned and testimonies expressed from CVCers about their experience.

Principle 1: Serving the poor changes the ones who serve. 
"We have only just begun and my understanding of the challenges facing those I have blindly generalized as 'less fortunate' has been revolutionized. The Open Table is for real. New Life happens one life at a time… in many ways, starting with me. It’s clear that this experience is going to be life changing for everyone on the group, not just the sister we are serving. What an amazing, humbling and impactful way to serve and grow in Christ!" Ryan Cole

Principle 2: Serving through The Open Table fosters real change one person at a time.
"The Open Table has both opened my eyes to the problem of poverty and shown me how I can use my gifts to do something about it, by fostering real change, one person at a time. Meeting the sister we are helping put a face on the problem of poverty and made it personal to me. Listening to her story broke me and helped me understand the difficult challenges she has had to face in life. I discovered that our circumstances are different, but our hearts are the same. I look forward to using my talents to equip her to meet her challenges successfully, as her heart nurtures my own." Aaron Schmidt

Principle 3: Serving the poor is a way to use your spiritual gifts. 
"Serving on the Open Table fulfills part of my personal mission statement about helping Change Lives. Through this experience, I hope to help change the life of our sister, and through that process, my life will be changed. After just a few meetings with her, I am already finding myself to be a more caring, compassionate, and loving person, with a strong desire to use my spiritual gifts to help her grow as a person and sister in Christ." Joe Haddad

Principle 4: Serving the poor can transform your own family. 
"I think many moms with younger children 'opt out' of serving, with the excuse that, at this season of their life, they are only to serve their family and raise children who love Jesus. Over the last 6 years, I have had Isaiah 58:5-13 impressed upon my heart over and over and over again. I have felt like our culture tells us to build boundaries to protect our time and our family. Yet God calls us to 'pour yourself out'. So, my husband and I responded to the opportunity to serve on The Open Table. While it has only been a month, my children and I have been able to serve our sister together on 3 occasions already, with a fourth time coming this weekend. I am more convinced than ever that this season of raising small children should not be a time to discard serving outside the family in lieu of raising up Godly kids. On the contrary, changing our service to activities that we do alongside of our kids could not be more hand in hand with that effort and calling. Thank you for giving us the opportunity and privilege to pour ourselves out for someone as a way to offer up our living sacrifice." Joelle Cole

Principle 5: Serving the poor together changes your entire community of faith.
"In just a few months I see profound changes not only in our sister’s life, but in the hearts and lives of every individual serving on The Open Table!" Susan Schmidt

Principle 6: Serving through The Open Table is a Biblical response to poverty. 
"Although we are early in the Open Table process, it is becoming clear to me that The Open Table is the most Biblical and consequently appropriate response to local poverty for Christ followers. As far as my personal level of involvement, I have grown from a very casual interest to heavy commitment and I have every reason to believe that this may become a life long ministry along side our brothers and sisters." Andrew Brown

Principle 7: Serving the poor creates gratitude in those who serve.
"I have been raised to give of myself. No matter where I am, if I am not giving, it feels strange. Since giving my life to Christ, my eyes are open more to the problems people have. Many times I felt my hands have been tied. I tried to help and did. not know where to turn to help. I felt sick because I could not help. Now, with The Open Table I have a person to help. I know the depth of what she needs. I have a group of God-fearing people that have the answers or will help find them. Praise God for The Open Table and this opportunity. Thanks So Much." Jan Greathouse

We already have some interest in sponsoring a young adult who finds himself in poverty. We need a few more servant leaders in order to serve this young adult. If you are interested in serving, please contact our Open Table Congregational Catalyst, John Kerzey.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

3 reasons why you won't ever regret gaining greater clarity

How might things be different at your church if everyone used a common language? What might happen if collaboration was really the norm in all your departments? What would be different in your church if you gained greater traction in your ministries? Who else might you attract if your team went from good to great? How would your church culture benefit if your people really embraced change?

The NE Ohio Auxano Church Unique co::LAB is designed to help you and your church move ahead in all these areas and more.

The co::LAB is designed to help your church collaborate with the Spirit and with each other to clarify your unique mission, vision, and values. It will help you clearly define what a mature follower of Christ looks like - the "win" for your congregation. You will have a vision frame to look through to see what God wants you to do in the next 3-6 months, in the next 1-2 years, and in the next 3-5 years.

As a busy leader. You are probably wondering, “Will gaining vision clarity at the NE Ohio Auxano Church Unique co::LAB really make a difference? Why should I invest the resources of my team’s time in the Auxano process over the next 6 months? Will the monetary investment be worthwhile?”

I asked three leaders in Ohio who have experience the Auxano Church Unique process to give a testimony about their experience. In the process, they shared some profound principles about the important of clarity. 

Principle: Greater clarity advances unity and creates a common language.
Kevin Young of Willoughby Hills Friends Church said, “Going through the Auxano process has done more to shape our future than anything we have ever done. The return on investment has been incredible. We now have clarity as to who we are as a body and what God is calling us to become. Auxano gave us a common language to use and brought unity to leaders at all levels. For the first time we were together as a church and speaking the same language!”

Principle: Greater clarity cultivates collaboration.
Marty Pennington of MainStreet Church in Toledo said, “Working with Auxano has helped us better understand who we are as a church and where God wants to lead us.  More than anything, it got all of our staff on the same page as it relates to the big picture of our vision and we now work as a collaborative team more than as individual ministries within the larger church.”

Principle: Greater clarity gives greater traction and bears fruit.
Chad Allen, current lead pastor at Cuyahoga Valley Church in Cleveland, said, “Searching for vision clarity can be very disorienting. The Auxano process brought great equilibrium to our team and to me as we engaged Church Unique's simple but profound concepts. After going through the Auxano process, our team gained great traction on vision and the fruit that it yields.”


Because Auxano provides great tools to help bring about greater clarity, I am excited to invite you to an Auxano Church Unique co::LAB at Cuyahoga Valley Church. The co::LAB will be led by co-founder of Auxano, Jim Randall.

The Church Unique Vision co::LAB idea represents a continuous and collaborative (hence the double colon) laboratory to focus on your vision. You and 3 leaders from your church will pray and work together to clarify your vision. The group will be limited to 8-12 churches. To understand why this process is vital, check out the Auxano website. 

Session 1 Tuesday, November 4 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 2 Tuesday, December 16 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 3 Tuesday, January 13, 2015 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 4 Tuesday, February 10, 2015 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 5 Tuesday, March 3, 2015 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 6 Tuesday, April 7, 2015 from 11:30am to 4:00pm

For a more comprehensive overview of the co::LAB, check out the online brochure here. Request more information here. I would be happy to answer any additional questions you may have about the co:LAB. You can call me at 440-570-6277 or email me at rduncan@cvconline.org for more information. You can access the Auxano Consulting Services Agreement here.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Why your church might be operating on less than 50% of your capacity

Most church leaders think, "I wish we had more resources. We could do so much more. But given even the limited resources we currently have, I think we could be and should be doing more to impact our community. I have the sense that we are not operating at peak efficiency. We aren't hitting on all cylinders. We're sputtering too much and not cruising enough."

If you are a leader, you've probably felt this way. A lot.

What's wrong? Don't overlook the spiritual reasons. Sin in the camp will always limit our fruitfulness. But suppose sin IS being dealt with and your people are seeking to be filled with the Spirit and to abide in Christ? What else could be wrong?

The clarity of your mission, vision, and direction could be compromised.

Clarity? Yes, clarity. What's most important is not always most apparent.

Will Mancini encourages church leaders to conduct a clarity litmus test. "Do your people [truly] know your mission? Is it meaningfully articulated based on your understanding of what your church can do better than 10,000 others? If not, then I think you are operating at a capacity less than 50% of what you should be. And that’s not an exaggeration."

Most church leaders feel Iike they already have their mission, vision, and values all set. But think through the following set of questions.

1. Do you sense that your people truly know where you are going?
2. Are you and your leaders really on the same page? 
3. Are you convinced that there is absolutely no gap between you as a visionary leader and your elders?
4. In the last 30 days, did you overhear church members talking about your vision?
5. Have you planned something in the next 6 months that will help your team see God's future for your church?
6. Do you have a process on paper that shows how your church will develop disciples and leaders?
7. Do you have crystal clarity about the next ministry to begin or staff to hire?
8. Have you identified someone who can help you grow as a senior leader?
9. Are you convinced that that you're actually doing more than just activities and programs?
10. Have you identified your next biggest challenge along with a plan to deal with it?
11. Do you know how you are going to grow to the next level?

If you said "no" to more than half of these questions, then you are likely operating on less than 50% of your capacity as a church.

Perhaps what you and your church need is more clarity! Will Mancini says, "Clarity isn't everything. But clarity changes everything."

The Auxano Vision co::LAB is designed to help your church collaborate with the Spirit and with each other to clarify your unique mission, vision, and values. It will help you clearly define what the a mature follower of Christ looks like - the "win" for your congregation. You will have a vision frame to look through to see what God wants your to do in the next 3-6 months, in the next 1-2 years, and in the next 3-5 years.

As a leader at Cuyahoga Valley Church, I can truly say that going through the Vision Frame process with Auxano changed me for the better. I now have more focus, more confidence, and more freedom as a leader. I benefitted from an outsider's perspective. I benefitted from the world-class tools Auxano uses. I benefitted from a structured approach.

You can, too. If you engage in the co::LAB, I believe that you will not regret the effort, the experience, or the expenditure.

I am excited to invite you to an Auxano Church Unique co::LAB at Cuyahoga Valley Church. The co::LAB will be led by co-founder of Auxano, Jim Randall.

The Church Unique Vision co::LAB idea represents a continuous and collaborative (hence the double colon) laboratory to focus on your vision. You and 3 leaders from your church will pray and work together to clarify your vision. The group will be limited to 8-12 churches. To understand why this process is vital, check out the Auxano website.

Session 1 Tuesday, November 4 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 2 Tuesday, December 16 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 3 Tuesday, January 13, 2015 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 4 Tuesday, February 10, 2015 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 5 Tuesday, March 3, 2015 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 6 Tuesday, April 7, 2015 from 11:30am to 4:00pm

For a more comprehensive overview of the co::LAB, check out the online brochure here. Request more information here. I would be happy to answer any additional questions you may have about the co:LAB. You can call me at 440-570-6277 or email me at rduncan@cvconline.org for more information. You can access the Auxano Consulting Services Agreement here.


May you and your church gain the clarity needed to start operating at a much higher percentage than just 50%!

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Celebrating the life and legacy of Donald Schaeffer, a man of God who truly finished well

Pastor Donald Schaeffer of Grace Church in Middleburg Heights, Ohio graduated to glory this past Friday. A loving family, a dynamic church, NE Ohio, and the world has lost a great man of God. But we know that our loss is heaven's gain. 

From the church website, we read, "Born May 30, 1930 in Secaucus, NJ to the late George and Christine Degelmann Schaeffer, Donald graduated from Concordia Seminary (St. Louis), and served churches in Wisconsin and South Carolina before arriving as the first ordained pastor of Grace Church. He served as the Senior Pastor for 38 years (1962-2000) and as pastor emeritus for 14 years. Over more than five decades of ministry at Grace, Donald preached thousands of sermons and his teaching and example impacted countless people. During this span, church attendance grew from around 50 people to nearly 4,000 in average attendance. Donald’s passion in life was to exalt Jesus Christ in everything."

For many years, I have been inspired as a pastor by this great man. That he was able to transition leadership to his gifted son, Jonathan, and stay active in ministry at Grace encouraged me to believe that I, too, could pass the baton at CVC and stay active in ministry at CVC as Founding Pastor. Along with other pastors on the Southwest side of CLE, I had the privilege to pray with him several times. I LOVED being in prayer environments with him. 

Pastor Schaeffer preached at Grace's Good Friday 2014 service. I listened to the full message on Saturday. Here are just a few of his precious, powerful insights that truly filled my heart with an even greater appreciation for Jesus and our great gospel. 

I pray that more and more pastors will finish well like Donald Schaeffer did. I pray that I will finish well like he did. What a comfort to know that Pastor Donald has surely heard a well-deserved well done. 

Be encouraged by his gospel-drenched and Christ-exalting words from this past Good Friday.

***

When we are in Christ, our spirits can grow stronger and stronger even though our bodies grow weaker and weaker. I want to be spiritually strong. I want to glorify God. I want to finish strong. I want to be a blessing to others. If I am right with God, nothing can really be wrong. If I am wrong with God, nothing can really be right...

"Come now let us settle the matter, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow. Though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool" (Isaiah 1:18).

Our sins are taken away. We are forgiven. And we are cleansed.

Did you ever get a stain on a piece of clothing that you loved? And you can't get it out and you take it to the dry cleaner and they can't get it out?

You say, "Can you put a brooch or something over that spot?" We men, of course, we can't do that. But a girl... she can do that, "What can I do? Put a scarf on there..."

But He's removed every spot and every stain. There's not a spot remaining when Jesus cleanses us. It's all - ALL - washed away, eradicated, taken away. And you're never going to see it again - never, never again...

The life is in the blood. When a person is in an accident and dies, what happened? He bled to death. You lose too much blood and you can't live. Blood is the serum of life. And if somebody has some sort of a serious illness, which has compromised their blood, what do we do? We give them a blood transfusion. And their color comes back. And their strength comes back. And their vigor comes back because the life is in the blood. We give blood transfusions to give physical life. But there's a spiritual transfusion, too...

One of the pictures throughout the Bible is that Christ puts on us the robe of righteousness. It's a beautiful picture. Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, like in a wedding... That's a beautiful picture.

But you know, Christ not only puts His robe of righteousness ON us. He puts it IN us. He not only puts it in us, but it becomes one with us...

When you drink bread and drink the fruit of the vine, it's digested and goes into your blood. And your blood goes throughout your body. It nourishes every cell and every fiber of your being...

We are having a blood transfusion. Not physically, but spiritually... As we look to Christ alone, we are being transfused. His life is pouring into our life...

He gives you his holiness, His righteousness so that you are as righteous in God's eyes as He is. God sees you in Jesus.

"Therefore you are a new creation..." (II Corinthians 5:17a).

"For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God" (II Corinthians 5:21).

This is a miracle of miracles, the greatest miracle you could ever experience, far transcending any physical healing, any physical healing, anything else that you could experience. It is an incredible exchange.

It is the most important experience you could ever have in your whole life, the most vital, crucial experience, the most transforming experience.

It's the one experience you MUST have... you MUST have if you want to be forgiven, if you want to have real life, if you want to have eternal life, if you want to go to heaven...

There were two cups on the first Good Friday.

The first cup was our cup - that black cup filled with all my sin, filled with all my sin, filled with all my judgment, filled with all your judgment, filled with all the sin and judgment of the world. Our cup. Jesus took and drank it all. Until there was not a drop left. And so we never have to drink of that cup if we are trusting in Him.

Of course there are only two places where sin can be. It's either on yourself or it's on Jesus. If you have not received Him as your Savior, your sin is still on yourself. Then you'll have to drink that cup yourself. But if you trust in Jesus, He drank your cup for you. It's empty! You don't have to worry about the judgment. You're forgiven! Your sins are forgotten. They're gone, cleansed by the blood of Jesus. Our cup. The cup that Jesus drank.

And then there's Jesus' cup - the cup filled with HIs spotless blood. The blood of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. The blood of the sinless One. The blood of the holy One. The One who never, ever broke a commandment or a promise of God.

And in that cup... Jesus is symbolically saying, 'My blood cleanses you... as you partake of this, even you... and you... and you... and you... everyone of you as you drink in belief, and you drink in faith, this cup cleanses you. It cleanses you of every spot and stain.'

You are free! You are forgiven. You can face God unafraid and unashamed. But not only are you forgiven, but you are filled. For that blood symbolizes His life.

Two cups.

Our cup that He drank. His cup that we may drink.

Will you drink it tonight? And not just perfunctory. But will you drink it in faith saying, "Jesus, I'm a sinner. I should have drank that cup but You drank it for me. Now I drink Your cup showing that I believe You shed Your blood for me to cleanse me and renew my life. You are my God. You are my all. And all I want is You."

***

Why did Donald Schaeffer finish well? He made much of Jesus Christ. Like the Apostle Paul, he knew nothing except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Now, he is seeing the One he proclaimed face to face. 

Saturday, October 11, 2014

7 church mission statements that are unique, compelling, creative, and contagious 

If you're a church leader, you've seen lots of mission statements that are cut-and-paste yawners. Some seminary students craft a statement in an ecclesiology class and then ride that horse into the ground over the course of their ministry. The statement might be theologically correct, but lacking in uniqueness and creativity. 

For sure, let's be theologically accurate. Churches exist to glorify God by making disciples. We can never lose sight of that. But how do individual churches uniquely glorify God and make disciples in their own cultural context and with their one-of-kind collective potential and spiritual passion? 

What makes your church different than 10,000 other churches? Have you clearly articulated that in a way that is unique, compelling, creative, and contagious for your team and in your community? 

Auxano is a consulting group that is passionate about helping you connect with the Spirit to determine your unique contribution to the Kingdom of God and to express your mission in creative and compelling ways.

Will Mancini, founder of Auxano, recently shared some church mission statements (below) that are unique and attention-getting. These statements were birthed from an empowering process through team collaboration. 

These statements might not be particularly compelling to you. But what's important is that the statements inspire the leaders at these individual churches. Their hearts beat faster. Their energies are more focused. Their next steps are more clear. 

Take a look at the statements below and ask yourself, "Is our church as clear, compelling, and creative in the way we articulate our mission as we could be?"

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.  Inviting the striving to something really real (in process) - The Bridge Bible Church, Bakersfield, CS (Jeff Gowling, senior pastor) 

4.  Rescuing one another from cultural Christianity to follow Jesus every day - Park Cities Baptist Church, Dallas, TX. (Jeff Warren, senior pastor) 

5. Helping one another trade a checklist faith for real life with Jesus - First Baptist Concord, Knoxville, TN (John Avant, lead pastor) 

6. Imperfect people, risking it all to make Jesus real one life at a time - Salem Lutheran, Tomball, TX (Tim Niekerk, senior pastor) 

7. Inviting the distracted and disinterested to realize their role in God’s story - Mountain Park Community Church, Phoenix, AZ (Allan Fuller, lead pastor)

Clarifying your church's God-given mission can be a team-building, leader-empowering, and insight-enhancing process. This is especially true if you and your team use world-class tools with an outsider's perspective.

That's why I am excited to invite you to an Auxano Church Unique co::LAB at Cuyahoga Valley Church. The co::LAB will be led by co-founder of Auxano, Jim Randall.

The Church Unique Vision co::LAB idea represents a continuous and collaborative (hence the double colon) laboratory to focus on your vision. You and 3 leaders from your church will pray and work together to clarify your vision. The group will be limited to 8-12 churches. To understand why this process is vital, check out the Auxano website

Session 1 Tuesday, November 4 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 2 Tuesday, December 16 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 3 Tuesday, January 13, 2015 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 4 Tuesday, February 10, 2015 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 5 Tuesday, March 3, 2015 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 6 Tuesday, April 7, 2015 from 11:30am to 4:00pm

For a more comprehensive overview of the co::LAB, check out the online brochure here. Request more information here. I would be happy to answer any additional questions you may have about the co:LAB. You can call me at 440-570-6277 or email me at rduncan@cvconline.org for more information. You can access the Auxano Consulting Services Agreement here.

We look forward to serving you and your team to help you connect with the Lord in clarifying you church mission statement, one that is unique, compelling, creative, and contagious. 

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Why just a one degree mistake on your direction as a church can be disastrous

We all know that a one-degree mistake on a compass eventually will cause a plane to go many miles off course. The same is true for a church. 

Leaders must be crystal clear about their unique Spirit-given vision - a vision that must be birthed from a team's careful exegesis of 1) the cultural place, 2) the collective potential, and 3) the communal passion. But if the vision is unclear, then over a 5-10 year period faulty decision after faulty decision will be made that will take a church far off course from God's intended fruitful path. 

Churches that are off course frustrate leaders. The unintended consequences of a lack of clear vision pile up over time. Pastors then wonder, "Why is it that our church is so far from what I dreamed it could be and should be?" Ministry isn't fulfilling anymore. Pastors day dream about other jobs and other ministries. Sometimes, they drop out altogether. Why? Because of unclear vision. Because they failed to read their unique compass clearly. Because of bad decisions that arose out of a lack of clarity. 

The sad truth, of course, is that many churches are way more than one degree off course. In fact, many churches are not even sure where their compass is anymore.

Therefore, one key to growing a stronger church is gaining clarity about your direction. 

Do you have the kind of clarity on your direction as a church that gives you a sense of creativity, confidence, boldness, freedom, and focus? 

Often, churches operate programs that have been birthed out of tradition or from the latest conference the leaders attended or the latest books they've read. 

But if we are copying someone’s else’s vision, then who will accomplish ours? 

Your church has a culture that ought to reflect your particular values, thoughts, attitudes, and actions. You have been called to unlock your church’s individual DNA and unleash your congregation’s one-of-a-kind potential. 

That's why I am encouraging you to consider attending a Church Unique co::LAB being offered at Cuyahoga Valley Church. CVC is collaborating in the co::LAB with a church consulting group, Auxano—a Greek word meaning “to cause to grow.” 

In 2012, CVC went through the Auxano vision frame process. We found that the outsider's perspective and the tools we accessed helped us immensely to develop deeper unity, more passion, and greater urgency to invite more and more people to new life in Christ. 

The Church Unique Vision co::LAB idea represents a continuous and collaborative (hence the double colon) laboratory to focus on your vision. You and 3 leaders from your church would pray and work together to clarify your vision. The group will be limited to 8-12 churches. To understand why this process is vital, check out the Auxano website

Who attends the group?
Senior pastors
Staff pastors
Key volunteers 
Church planters

Group purpose: 
Examine your community, your collective potential, and your passion with new eyes
Take your ministry through a formal vision process in sync with the group
Find your specific purpose and vision - that which makes you different from 10,000 others churches
Develop a clear picture of what the "win" looks like for you as a church
Learn how to drip concepts of vision into ongoing, daily leadership
Gain greater clarity, focus, and credibility as a leader

Format of the Group:
Meet 1x per month for 6 months
Walk through content, tools, and training in a collaborative context
Receive personalized coaching concerning the development of your vision

Tools you get: 
A copy of Will Mancini's Church Unique
A copy of the Auxano's Vision Deck
A set of process tools Auxano uses for onsite work
A notebook for a set of handouts for each session

Dates and location:
The co::Lab will take place at CVC, 5055 East Wallings Road, Broadview Heights, Ohio 44147. The co::LAB will be led by co-founder of Auxano, Jim Randall
Session 1 Tuesday, November 4 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 2 Tuesday, December 16 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 3 Tuesday, January 13, 2015 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 4 Tuesday, February 10, 2015 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 5 Tuesday, March 3, 2015 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 6 Tuesday, April 7, 2015 from 11:30am to 4:00pm

Investment:
$2000 for the 6 sessions (Note: On site consulting – one consultant with one church – with Auxano can range from $20,000 to $30,000.)

For a more comprehensive overview of the co::LAB, check out the online brochure here. I would be happy to answer any additional questions you may have about the co:LAB. Or you can call me at 440-570-6277 or email me at rduncan@cvconline.org for more information. You can access the Auxano Consulting Services Agreement here.

We look forward to serving you and helping you find your compass and align your ministries so that your church stays on the unique course God has created for you.

Monday, October 06, 2014

What you can do when you hear, "I don't know where we are going as a church..."

If you are a church leader, I am sure you’ve heard a leader (maybe even a staff member) that you thought was fully on board say, “I don’t know where we are going as a church.”

You can’t believe your ears. You wonder, “After all the time we’ve spent praying and planning together, how can this be?” You’re frustrated that your leaders and you don’t seem to be on the same page.

Yet, the fact remains that someone who you thought was “all in” is saying, “I don’t know where we are going as a church.”

After 35 years in ministry, I can honestly say that this has happened to me more than once. Here’s what I’ve learned.

When someone says something like this: “I don’t know where we are going as a church,” it’s a sure sign that you need to slow down and clarify your mission, values, strategy, measures, and vision.

I am thrilled that Auxano is offering a vision small group opportunity for church leaders, what we call a Church Unique Vision co:LAB, here in NE Ohio. We’ll be hosting it at Cuyahoga Valley Church.

The Church Unique Vision co::LAB idea represents a continuous and collaborative (hence the double colon) laboratory to focus on your vision. You and 3 leaders from your church will be working together to clarify your vision. We are limiting this group to 8-12 churches. To understand why this process is vital, check out the new Auxano website.

Who attends the group?

Church planters
Network leaders
Senior pastors
Staff pastors
Denominational coaches and consultants

Church consultants from different specialty areas

Group purpose: 
Take your ministry through a formal vision process in sync with the group
Learn how to drip concepts of vision into ongoing, daily leadership
Equip yourself as a coach or consultant on vision
See this as continuing education as you go deeper in the book Church Unique

Format of the Group:

We will meet 1x per month for 6 months
We will walk through content, tools, and training in a collaborative context
You will receive personalized coaching concerning the development of your vision frame

Tools you get: 
A copy of Church Unique
A copy of the Vision Deck ($80 value)
A set of process tools we use for onsite work
A notebook for a set of handouts for each session

Dates and location:

The co::Lab will take place at CVC, 5055 East Walling Road, Broadview Heights, Ohio 44147
Session 1 Tuesday, November 4 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 2 Tuesday, December 16 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 3 Tuesday, January 13, 2015 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 4 Tuesday, February 10, 2015 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 5 Tuesday, March 3, 2015 from 11:30am to 4:00pm
Session 6 Tuesday, April 7 from 11:30am to 4:00pm

Investment:

$2000 for the 6 sessions (Note: On site consulting – one consultant with one church – with Auxano can range from $20,000 to $30,000.)

Next steps:

If you are interested, you can receive follow up information by clicking on this linkClick on the following link for more info on the Church Unique Vision co::LAB. You can download Auxano's Consulting Services Agreement here

Thanks!

We look forward to getting to know you!

And we look forward to helping your team know – with clarity – where you are going as a church!

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