VISION & Creating a Balanced Vision for Your Church by @BobWhitesel published by @BiblicalLeader Magazine.

By Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., Biblical Leadership Magazine, 12/14/18.

IMG_2087In an attempt to describe organizations involved both locally and globally, a new term was championed by British sociologist Rolland Robertson: glocalwhich combines glo-bal with lo-cal. A host of Christian books have followed suit, using glocal as a descriptor for a congregation that is engaged in local and global ministry.

Therefore, a term more inclusive than glocal is needed. A term is required which reminds us that meeting the needs of non-churchgoers locally and globally also requires sustaining and assisting the health of a congregation of believers. A conglocal church is a congregation that has a balanced three-fold heart for foreign missions, for local missions and for congregants.

The designation conglocal reminds a congregation that it must balance its ministry to those inside the congregation, those nearby who are outside of it and those far away as well. In my consulting work, I have noticed that too many churches today spend the majority of their time looking after and meeting the needs of those within the congregation. This arises because the needs of those inside the congregation are heard the loudest and most frequent, due to social proximity.

However, the needs of those who are outside of the congregation pale in comparison with those with the church. One writer starkly reminded us that, “When a person dies without hearing that ‘God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes on him should not perish but have eternal life’ (John 3:16, RSV), it is too late. The best thing that could possibly happen to that person has been denied.”

Conglocalbalance in your financial expenditures

A key element of balanced conglocal ministry is balancing your fiscal expenditures in each category. In one client church, the pastor stood up and boldly proclaimed that the church was now giving 20 percent of its income to local (10 percent) and global (10 percent) ministry. While this is a step in the right direction, the church’s lavish marble atrium reminded visitors that 80 percent of this congregation’s income was still spent upon itself.

If churches are to foster authentic reconciliation between haves and have-nots as well as across physical chasms, then churches must start balancing their spending. The conglocal model provides a visual cue to churches of a church’s three-fold fiscal obligations. In a church with a growing conglocal heart you will find an increasing balance in expenditures toward meeting the needs of not just congregants, but also the local and global communities.

Conglocalbalance in your church life

More than balancing need-meeting in financial expenditures, it is important to balance your fellowship congregationally, locally and globally. Most churches spend a great deal of their time getting to know the needs of those within the congregation. Though there is nothing wrong with this, it can often be out of balance. A congregation must also regularly share life and interaction with those who don’t attend their church as well as those who don’t live nearby.

Research shows that face-to-face encounters help people from different cultures and socio-economic levels accept and support one another. Such face-to-face encounters with local and global people who don’t attend your church is an important tactic to maintain a conglocal balance.

Still, some readers may say that they work 40-plus hours per week with non-churchgoers and shouldn’t this be sufficient? Regrettably, in most of those workplace interactions, there is little sharing of spiritual values. Plus, in many workplaces discussing spiritual beliefs is discouraged. Thus, the conglocal church intentionally creates opportunities for local and global non-churchgoers to graciously discuss their faith journeys.

For example, one church cancelled its Sunday morning service, telling its congregants to go into the community to “find a need and fill it.” The pastor’s intention was to get the congregants out into the community seeking to understand and meet the needs of non-churchgoers. That Sunday hundreds of congregants spread out across the city to meet needs in Jesus’ name.

While sharing this story at a seminar, I noticed the assembled Wesleyan pastors looked uncomfortable. The General Superintendent of the Wesleyan Church, Dr. Jo Anne Lyon was actually seated behind me as I spoke (which if you didn’t know Dr. Lyon, could be a disquieting prospect).

At the end of my seminar, she took the podium and addressed my puzzlement over the reaction of the pastors. “I know why some of you were uncomfortable with the idea of canceling church and going out to serve the community,” Dr. Lyon began. “I know it is because if you did, you couldn’t count those people in your monthly attendance totals. Now, I don’t know if I have the authority to do this. But, I’m going to go ahead and say that if you send your people out to serve non-churchgoers on a Sunday, then you can count every person they touch has having been in Jesus’ presence that day.”

Kindhearted smiles swept across the seminar participants, as they recognized that this general superintendent would not let tradition stand in the way of reaching out to those in need.

How will your church find a conglocal vision? Meeting congregational needs will create a foundation of health so the church community can reach others locally and globally. This creates a large and balanced vision for the church—a conglocal vision.

Excerpted from The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heartby Bob Whitesel (Wesleyan Publishing 2013)

Photo source: istock

Read the original article here …


VISION & A review by missional coach Jim H. of “Church Unique” by Will Mancini.

Review of Church Unique (Will Mancini) by Jim H. 2018 Missional Coach candidate, 4/2/18.

Over the last month, I not only read this book, I studied it.  My Life Coach recommended the book last summer and when I had the chance to read it for “credit” I took it.  Since I’m moving closer to working with churches in need of revitalizing I’ve been looking for philosophical positions and practices on the best way to reverse churches.  Although this book is not really a philosophical book, it does begin with the idea that every church has a unique role or character that makes it different from every other congregation.  

The book has four sections of which I will identify bullet points that made an impression.  The sections are:

  1. Recasting Vision
  2. Clarifying Vision
  3. Articulating Vision
  4. Advancing Vision

Recasting Vision:  The idea behind this section is to redeem the visioning process for churches.  We made it too much into a “canned” process.  Leadership can restrict vision which is the lifeline to any church.  

  • Every church is a unique, but they’re not valuing their uniqueness.  Discovering their uniqueness can be hard work and humbling.  They may have to be realistic of their uniqueness, but they need to be comfortable in their own skin.
  • Church culture is defined by a list of qualities from its people.  The uniqueness of a church is equal to its culture.  This is not defined by a church service as much as the interacting thoughts, actions, attitudes and beliefs.  The sociological impact of a church is greatly underestimated.
  • Strategic Planning can kill a church!  Things I learned:
    • Too much information can kill vision!
    • Silos in the church are killing the team atmosphere.  Finding ways to break down the competitive nature within ministries and people is critical.
    • Leadership blinders greatly hampers a churches capacity!  My big take away on this is focusing on preparation and not planning.  Also, leaders and churches can be arthritic or adaptive.  
  • Space often times defines a church and its vision which should be combated.  Four walls don’t define us, so learning to resource those four walls to serve vision is important.

Clarifying Vision:  Once we discover that unique vision, how do we communicate it and keep people attune to it.  

It will take too long to go through all these clarifying characteristics, but it does seem to match other discovery techniques.  

  • Clarifying vision is about looking to the past as much as the future.
  • Clarifying vision requires careful consideration of strengths and limitations.
  • Clarifying vision is as much about identity as it is methodology.
  • Clarifying vision is always about what God is already doing.
  • Clarity makes leadership credible

Articulating Vision:  

  • Vision Frame:  The way Will Mancini broke this portion of the book down was helpful.  I will be studying this further to possibly integrate it into my own processes.  It does help to “frame” vision since it can be all encompassing. 
  • Mountain Top + Milestones:  this was also a helpful concept to process.  It is understandable that people need to see the big picture, but to create successes along the way to keep people motivated and moral up.

Advancing Vision:  Once the vision has been clarified and articulated, the messiest part is advancing it.  Life happens and people get distracted.  

  • My job as a leader is to constantly align, attune, and integrate the vision into the minds and hearts, actions and passions, and roles and organization charts of the Church Unique.
  • This is the part that scares me the most.  My strengths lie in the previous parts and not as much in this area.  I know I need to develop these skills.  God may put me in this role again to do just that.

VISION STATEMENTS & How I have seen them underused, overemphasized & mostly ineffective. Here is the alternative…

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 4/13/18.

Yearly a handful of missional coach candidates shadow me on my consultations (more info here if you are interested in being considered for next year’s cohort).

Recently, the missional coach candidates and I were discussing the use, misuse and impact of mission and vision statements.  First, I will share my personal conclusions from having worked with hundreds of churches on their mission and vision statements.  Then (below my comments) you will find the discussion that inaugurated these conclusions.

I wrote:

If you have read my books, you probably know I am not a fan of Vision Statements (though I discuss them and the differences with Mission Statements in most of my books).

Here is why.
I agree with everything said (below, by the missional coach candidates I am training).
  • Vision Statements help visualize a preferred future,
  • create metrics for goal attainment,
  • etc.
But, I have seen them generate little use in these areas, despite pleas and pushing from the leaders.
They often consume too much time, because I suspect, Christians like philosophizing and theologizing more than practicing something.

So, I have come to conclude that John Kotter has the answers.  He states that visions (created by a collation) are temporary and elastic things.  In other words, they are tied to a project.

  • Now, I’m not saying that vision statements aren’t needed.
  • They are, but they should be more flexible, temporal and more quickly created.
 Yet, mission statements are different. They deal with unchangeable values (and for Christians, our theology).  They shouldn’t change.  But, the local church usually doesn’t need to craft them, because the denomination or network has usually done that for them.
So, my recommendations to clients based upon my experiences over 25+ years.
  1. Have a Mission Statement that defines your theology, history and polity.
  2. Create multiple Vision Statements as time and projects dictate.

(Below is the conversation among my 2018 Missional Coaches candidates on this issue):

On Apr 13, 2018, at 11:10 AM, Tim W. wrote:

I did my graduate degree in business in the days when the competitive edge of Corporation, Inc. rested in these kinds of organizational tools. The church world then adopted the language and approach. My bias is still towards using these. I see them as critical pieces in organizational design BUT I also do not want to spend copious amounts of time/energy/money generating these statements. More to the point, if a congregation does have them, then they need to embed them deeply into the heart of the church. AND, if they are not authentic and missionally-driven statements, then it’s pointless anyway. :))

On Apr 13, 2018, at 9:01 AM, Mark C. wrote:

I would agree on many of your points. The fact that what the local church does is actually their vision is truer that what we or they want to believe.
In most cases the Great Commission Vision has been neglected in place of a Great Coffee Dream.
Here to surV
On Wednesday, April 11, 2018 9:19 AM, Tim W wrote:
Hi all … I want to chime in on some of the mission/vision statement comments in this string from my experience as a denominational exec.
I agree that churches can spend too much time on massaging vision and mission statement(if they even understand the difference/function of these two tools), but I also thinkmany churches spend too LITTLE time on them as well. There must be a balance. When properly formed and used, these statements provide a great deal of agenda harmony, synergy in the organizational system, clarity of priority in budgeting, effectiveness in staffing right, and a host of other things. Most importantly, it removes the fuzziness in the minds of the congregation as to congregational direction. In fact, when done well, the very process of drafting a statement together reveals gaps, relational deficiencies (both personal and organizational), and then creates energy, excitement, optimism, and makes strategic planning more robust. Of course, these statements in themselves can’t do anything for the church; it’s all in the way they are employed into the organizational system.
The truth be told, though, most churches already operate from vision, but it’s usually informal, imprecise, and carried by a few power brokers in the church. A couple of great questions to ask when conducting a first consult with the congregation is this: if your church was at its very best, what would this look like? where would she spend her time and resources? These questions do not directly address the vision question because if you ask “what is your vision?” most people will either recite what they read on the bulletin cover or will look dumbfounded. When asked outcome oriented questions, however, a picture emerges and this picture is the imperfectly constructed vision.
Ultimately, the vision statement is a tool to help organize for mission—no more and no less. It’s power is in its simplicity to direct and excite and it’s contribution to the real-world ministry of the church.
Just my thoughts…
 Read more of the ideas about mission and vision statements that I’ve come to embrace after seeing them in practice here.

VISION & Video Introduction to Praxis Assignments of Week 4 of LEAD 600

I record video introductions to weekly assignments for my students.  Here is an introduction to the topic “Evaluating Mission & Vision” from LEAD 600: Missional Leadership (typically week 4, but may vary due to student needs).

©️Bob Whitesel 2017, used by permission only.

MISSION vs VISION & In One Short Sentence, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Explained the Flaw w/ Bill Gates’ Original Mission

by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D, 2/27/17.

Why are Apple fans more passionate than PC followers? Why are artists, who think abstractly, drawn to Apple more than Microsoft?

It has to do with one of their founder’s mixup of vision with mission.

Bill Gates equated mission with vision. As I teach my students, the two are distinctly different: mission never changes, but vision is temporal and may change, albeit carefully, over time and with strategic analysis.

Gates equated mission with vision as the current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, “It always bothered me that we confused an enduring mission with a temporal goal.”

Nadelle explained, “When I joined the company in 1992, we used to talk about our mission as putting a PC in every home, and by the end of the decade we have done that, at least in the developed world,” said Nadella.

Nadella is right, “putting a PC in every home” is not a mission – because it is a vision. It is something that can be reached, can be pictured in your mind and is temporally bound. You can see a vision in your mind. You can envision every house having a PC computer. That is why every house today doesn’t, many have Macs.

A mission drives the company and its values, therefore shaping it’s decisions. It is much bigger and grander than a vision.

When Steve Jobs was luring Bill Scully from PepsiCo to become CEO of Apple, Jobs shared a mission, not a vision, saying: “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?” (Odyssey: Pepsi to Apple: A Journey of Adventure, Ideas, and the Future [1987] by John Sculley and John A. Byrne)

A mission is just like that. It is exciting, world-changing … but somewhat imprecise so it could be manifest in many different outcomes. It is also not temporally bound, like “putting a PC in every home.” A mission drives your values and decisions through many different projects.

But, people like visions because they can envision what the future looks like. For instance, they can picture every home having a PC.

In contrast, look at the loyal following and passionate followers of Apple. Steve Jobs had a mission to “change the world” by reinventing the way the world interacts. This change mission includes, but is not limited to, putting an Apple Computer in every home. But it also includes visions such as putting an Apple iPhone in every hand, perfecting the computer notepad, reinventing how we obtain/listen to music, etc.

A person who knows the difference between vision and mission understands why it was much more fun and exciting to work for Jobs than for Gates. And a person who knows the difference between vision and mission understands why people are more passionate about companies like Apple.

If you are trying to get people excited about the mission of the church and your vision, then you must begin by understanding the difference between vision and mission. Even mega-wealthy entrepreneurs like Gates didn’t get it and their legacy reminds us of this.

#LEAD600 #LEAD545

MISSION & Are You Writing a Statement or Living in Mission?

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 5/12/16.

I have found that many churches lead by Boomers tend to adopt the approach of focusing on the churchgoers … in hopes of attracting the non-churchgoers. The Millennial Generation  have been raised in this milieu and often see the ineffectiveness of an attractional approach.  In the book ORGANIX: Signs of Leadership in a Changing Church (Abingdon Press) I point out that researchers find Millennials generally preferring to focus on others before themselves. Not surprisingly I have found Millennial-led churches tend to focus on meeting the needs of non-churchgoers as a way to help the churchgoers mature in faith (and not the other way around).  This is analogous to what Richard Sterns calls “filling the hole in the Gospel.

While conversing with a student on this, he pushed back (which is always fine) responding the spending time on crafting mission and vision statements creates an attraction for Millennials.  He thus concluded, “However, I would stand my ground in that millennials are hungry for something of real substance.  And something can’t have real substance unless it has Christ-centered mission and vision which is clearly communicated.”

I responded that I would restate that slightly, and say, “Millennials are hungry for something of real substance.  And something can’t have real substance unless a church spends more time proactively living Christ’s mission than parsing statements and advertising them.”

I know this latter phrase was not what the student was suggesting, but I find it is often what the Church is doing … and hence, my warning.

EVALUATION & How a Vision Statement Can Help You Evaluate Your Plans #CaseStudy

by Bob Whitesel Ph.D., 6/15/15.

A former student who was a district leader once remarked that they had a very precise vision statement and that “this vision is now used as a template in (evaluating) our budgeting process…”  He went on to say, “this vision is now used as a template in our budgeting process in that every income and expense line item is assigned to columns under the headings of leadership development, church development, church multiplication and administration.”

Such evaluation of activities through a vision statement is also an important tactic within the field of business management.  The vision statement is thus utilized as a grid or lens through which organizations decide if a certain endeavor agrees and supports their vision.

Here is a real-life case study I advised as their consultant.

A non-profit Christian organization sent college-age sport teams to Europe to reach out with the Good News.  Another organization sent out medical personnel to similar countries.  This later organization suggested a merger with the sport organization.  Now on the surface, there would seem like there would be little argument against this.  But, the vision statement helped the sport organization decide that this new direction did not line up with their vision.  You see, if a vision is too broad too much extraneous activities will creep in.

I think we all see that this has been a problem in churches.

Thus ask yourself, are their ministries under your auspices that evaluate their programming ministry through their vision grid?  And if not, perhaps you conjecture what such a recommendation might look like?