Archive for the ‘church planting’ Category

mancini_church_unique_3Summary: Church Unique by Will Mancini is a comprehensive book on creating a mission oriented church that clearly understands where it is going and how it is creating a unique impression that only it can offer.  Mancini has crafted a process for looking deep into the nuts and bolts of mission, vision, values and communication and making that real in the church.


In a world of cookie cutter models of church that invite us to follow the next guy, just because it’s working over there, Church Unique offers a process for church leaders that carries them through a unique path to creating God’s unique expression for each church.  For this reason alone, every church pastor should pick up and read this book.  It is a clarion call to discover the harder path that allow each church to resonate in a distinct way.

The book is broken up into four sections that all deal with vision: Recasting Vision, Clarifying Vision, Articulating Vision, and Advancing Vision.  Each section offers a detailed understanding of Mancini’s process for creating this unique expression.  My favorite section was Mancini’s concept of “Thinkholes”.  This section alone was worth the price of the book (my copy was a gift by Auxano but I wanted to read it).

Mancini offers a quote that resonated with me for days and one of the central reasons for discovering the Unique DNA of each church.  He says,

“The dramatic irony is that what happens at the conference is the exact opposite of what propelled the host church to be effective in the first place.  Each of these leaders endured a process of self-understanding and original thinking that helped in articulating a stunningly unique model of ministry.”

That is brilliant my friends.  It is essentially the trial and error process, hard work, and resolve around a unique expression imparted by God that makes churches grow.  And those leaders/pastors willing to take that risk usually end up on the stage.

The rest of the book identifies Auxano’s process for helping churches discover their own Unique expression.  These include: Discovering your kingdom concept, Developing your vision frame, and delivering your vision daily.

Mancini’s process is dense and would obviously benefit from Auxano’s help through the process.  I have a background in marketing, communications and business in Silicon Valley and I found I had to set the book down at times to chew on what was said.

There will be those who would easily bash the book for it’s emphasis on the business structure it proposes.  But I would suggest that any church needs to understand it’s own unique expression, the vision and mission it wishes to follow and how to communicate that effectively.  Mancini offers a “unique” process for discovering that.


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ES: What was the main reason they determined church was no longer an essential part of their life?

TR: Basically the issue was that most churches were low-expectation churches. The leadership did not challenge the members nor expect the members to be a vital part of the congregation. That’s why the dropout rate was so high between the ages of 18 and 22. Once young adults start making many of their own decisions, they saw the local church as an optional and, often, nonessential activity.

From Ed Stetzer’s interview with Sam and Thom Rainer who have written a new book called Essential Church.

The whole interview is fascinating. Especially when they say that people are looking for pastors to turn UP the expectations.  All I can say is, “Doooooooohh!”

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Are you a Christian refugee?

Mark Sayers offers an interesting video about planting a missional church, which is intriguing.  But his distinction of a “refugee” caught my attention. His comment was essentially that there is this group of people who will attend a new plant who are not converts, but are not part of a local body of believers in the traditional sense. They have essentially left the traditional “church” institution and are seeking something else.

The dictionary’s definition of refugee is:

“a person who flees for refuge or safety, esp. to a foreign country, as in time of political upheaval, war, etc.”

Add the word “Christian” and its easy to begin to ask what people are running from or seeking safety from? Is it abuse, as so many in the CLB crowd have experienced?  Is it theology, or boredom, or even persecution for asking questions?

I also found the timing of the word almost ironic.  We are in the midst of what Phyllis Tickle would call the Great Emergence.  Everything “seems” to be up for grabs.  Politically Christianity feels like it is in a state of unrest.  Is the old guard being forced out or simply reformed?  Is the new guard creating revolution or upheaval?  Is a hybrid of sorts emerging that will usher in a new expression of Christianity that looks 2,000 years old.  Only time will tell.

It is hard to argue with Mark when people like George Barna suggest that there are twelve million people essentially in this category.  And when someone like Bill Easum admits that there is a problem with the church, it becomes hard to ignore the bright pink elephant standing in the middle of the room.

What is interesting about the concept of refugees is that it suggest displacement from the homeland.  Refugees are forced to wander, and disconnected from community they have no roots to plant. Forces have appeared to work against them leaving them with no place to settle.  Their heart is with their homeland, yet where is that?  Is it back where they left?  Is it somewhere right next to them?

I think the value of this distinction is important because it will give language to what people are feeling.  It will give them a way of communicating an experience.  And hopefully that conversation will lead to healing.

What do you think?  And do you consider yourself a refugee?

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This is a fascinating article for geeks like me who really like stuff about how our brain works.  Its about how magicians trick your brain.


Scientists have discovered a possible cure for Alzheimer’s disease.


Grace reviews Frank Viola’s new book, Reimagining Church.


What if we could generate electricity by flying kites.  See it here.


Mike Clawson on the differences between retributive justice vs. restorative justice in the Batman series.  Very nice.

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This is from Ben Arment, who use to assess and review church planter.

The church planter comes up with a great vision that rivals Bill Hybels’ Acts 2 church or Rick Warren’s baseball diamond. He’s got a great website, flow charts, demographic studies and even a facility picked out for when he starts holding services. The church exists perfectly in his mind before he ever steps foot in the community.

Six months later, he’s still optimistic, but he’s taken a few hits from early set-backs. Some potential core group members dropped out; he didn’t get as much funding as he wanted; the worship leader he recruited got another job… out of state.

By sheer optimism, the planter pushes on. It gives him great joy to set a launch date that will most certainly deliver him into the land of milk and honey: a truly effective church. All he wants to do is start meeting weekly, and people will come. He’s sure of it. The vision is too great…

He works up to the launch date by meeting with his core team. They’re clueless about church planting, but he assures them they’ve got the right leader. So he makes them all read Erwin McManus’ new book and learn to run sound equipment. They hand out water bottles with their logo on them at the grocery store and buy down people’s gas at the corner Exxon. Everyone they meet acts interested in the new church, which gives them cause for celebration, but there’s no telling whether they’ll show up on Sunday.

When the grand opening day finally arrives, the planter can’t believe how many friends and family members attend. He’ll have to disclose the number of “illegitimate guests” to his ministry friends later on, but for now, it creates the sort of excitement a first Sunday needs. There’s even a handful of first-time guests that seem to enjoy the service. As they’re leaving, they say they’re planning to come back, and the church planter’s got enough momentum to prepare the second service.

What no one tells the planter is that attendance almost always drops by 50 percent on the second Sunday. The friends and family members are gone. Only one or two guests come back. And the core group begins to slowly realize that the Sunday work-load comes every week.

After sitting through scores of church planter reviews, listening to these heart-sunken church planters try to sort it all out and watching their wives try to fight back tears, it became very clear to me that a community’s need for a new church is not enough. There has to be a spiritual fertility in the community.


Church planters rarely fail in the first year, and they rarely fail because of money. They hardly ever fail in the second or even the third year. Most church planters fail in year five when their churches have drifted into obscurity, when the luster has worn off, and no one is paying attention to them anymore.

By this time, the church planter is a mess. He’s defeated and discouraged, possibly depressed. And he’s formed all sorts of new conclusions about God that hinder his future walk with God. What’s worse is that the planter, for the life of him, cannot pinpoint what went wrong.

He blames himself – maybe he wasn’t cut out to be a pastor. He blames his circumstances – there simply wasn’t a good meeting location. He blames a bad decision – he shouldn’t have launched so soon. Or he blames the people – there was a deceiving family out to turn everyone against him.

But what he almost never sees is the need for cultivated soil. He showed up with a bag full of seeds to plant, but all he found were dirt clods. It never dawned him that he needed a hoe.

What is it about this story (of which this seems to be a conglomeration of many stories) that makes me sad.  Help me with this one.

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This guy is asking all the right questions.  I love it.

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Okay here is a really effective way to produce massive church growth. It’s been tried, true and tested. The numbers are absolutely riveting, producing real followers of Jesus Christ. It’s the next big thing in church consultants methodology, and everyone agrees. People are going to be lining up for this one.

Have the government outlaw it.

From Reggie McNeal

“Estimates range widely (in China), but its safe to say…there are tens of thousands of people who will come to the Kingdom (in the next 24 hours). Tens of thousands It could as many as a hundred thousands. In fact we don’t even know, because its growing so fast over there and in so we in mostly in house churches because they don’t know how to do church right.”

He quotes someone a student at Fuller who was part of a church in China.

“Once you get over fifteen you begin to get attention you know from the government, so you just (start a new one).”

Love it when we get out of the way. The entire video is filled with incredibly insights. It’s about 1 1/2 hours but worth every second.

“Everywhere Constantinian church footprint is the church is struggling.

Classic Reggie at his best. He’s the great insultant. What’s funny is that he’s ripping the people in the audience and they are all laughing.

I will say it again that I believe we are in the greatest shift in the history of the church.

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