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PANAMA CITY (FBW)—Will Mancini, author of Church Unique, told church educators clarity of vision is vital to understanding a church’s role in ministry. He spoke to 172 members of the Baptist Association of Church Educators at its annual meeting at the Wyndam Bay Point Resort in Panama City Beach Feb. 21-22.
“God is doing something of cosmic significance, but locally specific to churches,” Mancini said.
Each church is mandated to find its specific purpose and vision, and clarity is required for the process, he said. Recalling his father’s service as a jet pilot in Vietnam, Mancini said a one-degree mistake on a compass eventually will draw a plane many miles off course. The same is true of churches and denominations, he said.
Describing himself as a “clarity evangelist,” Mancini said, “Clarity isn’t everything, but it changes everything. One ounce of clarity is better than 100 pounds of activity.”
Mancini cited Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish,” and added, “Where there is no vision, the people will cherish something else in your church.”
He said individuals in a congregation may develop loyalties to a place—“an addiction to brick and mortar.” Devotion to a senior pastor or staff member may replace vision with worship service attendance dependent on who preaches.
Church programs may attract followers, although some programs, like out-dated milk, “need to be poured down the sink,” he said. Fellow church members may be a reason some call your church home, which may explain why reshuffling groups is so difficult, he said.
In contrast to these loyalties that he described as “the lower room” of a church, “what God calls a church to do” is in the upper room, he said. Churches must build a staircase from the lower room to the upper room, because “I think God wants something better,” he said.
“Is God doing something significant enough in your church to keep people at church even if the place, personalities, programs or people change?” Mancini asked.
In 12 years of church consulting, Mancini said he can recognize within five minutes of arriving at a church what training conference church leaders last attended. He cautioned, “Discovering a church’s vision is more a matter of investigation than imitation.” Each church should examine its community, collective potential and passion with new eyes, he said.
Mancini, who heads up the non-profit consulting organization Auxano—a Greek word meaning “to cause to grow,” has developed a “vision pathway” for churches to follow to clarity of vision. He said dialog about a church’s vision may begin with a “white napkin conversation at lunch” and develop into a functioning vision plan.
He compared communication of vision to the difference between a fire hose and a soaker hose.
“Vision dripping is more important than vision casting,” he said. “If you live it, they will come.”
Mancini asked BACE members what they would like to see happen in their churches in two years. Their answers included ministry teams, leadership development and Sunday School classes developing an outreach mindset.
The veteran consultant reminded the educators of the pattern for the multiplication of ministry found in Luke 9. He said dialogs and a vision pathway should give a church “everyday visionaries, team synergy, unique expression, and redemptive movement.”
“You never stop working on clarity,” he said.
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