Monday, November 10, 2008

School's Out - on Strategic Planning

As I've posted many times on this blog, Catalyst 2008 totally rocked my boat on a personal and business level - to the point of tipping it over! I'm still processing and talking about Catalyst, and probably will be till next year's Catalyst (yeah - I've already registered for it, along with the rest of my family - but that's another post).

My boat just turned over again.

Will Mancini, author of Church Unique and founder and Clarity Evangelist at Auxano, was kind enough to meet with me and the editor of Church Solutions magazine, Karen Butler, on the last day of WFX in Houston last week. Will was joined by Cheryl Marting, Chief Connections Officer at Auxano (already they win the award for coolest job titles). Since Will lives in Houston, the original intent was just to get to know him a little better in advance of next February's Church Solutions Conference and Expo. Karen set the lunch up, and was very kind to include me in. As soon as the conversation started, it was obvious to me that God had set this up all along to continue the "mind expansion" He set in place at Catalyst.

Church Unique was published earlier this year by Leadership Network. I'm a huge fan of Leadership Network -I attended a Leadership Gathering in 1995 and have participated in several national training events since then (thank you Sue Mallory for all you have done for equipping ministries in the church). Anyway, when LN publishes a book, I'm all over it. So when Church Unique came out, I picked it up - and it mesmerized me from the opening pages.

My experience with strategic planning matters goes back to seminary in the early 80's: Lyle Schaller, Aubrey Malphurs, Bobb Biehl, Kennon Callahan, Peter Drucker - these were the leaders in the field that we followed. Others have joined them in the years since, but all of these - and especially Malphurs - have influenced my own views of strategic planning in the churches I served and in the churches I work with now as a development consultant.

I had not gotten further than the introduction of Church Unique and a table contrasting strategic planning and Mancini's Vision Pathway than I knew my views of strategic planning and its place in the church world had changed - forever.

His approach centers on the powerfully simple concept that God has created all churches as unique. While we understand that God created His world with uniqueness (think snowflakes), and His children (DNA, environment, and culture) the same way, we think that churches are mostly alike. Do you think He would act any different with His church?

Over the next few days, I will be posting a few of the nuggets of Church Unique. But don't take my word for it - get a copy immediately, block out some time to dive into it, and prepare to put on a life preserver - your boat is going to be rocked!

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