Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Review: The Church Unique by Will Mancini

As an author, Will Mancini explores the dynamics of casting vision and moving the church forward through his book, Church Unique: How Missional Leaders Cast Vision, Capture Culture, and Create Movement.  He is also a talented church consultant or clarity evangelist, as he describes himself, bringing his valuable knowledge as a pastor and educator into the arena of vision casting for all-sized churches.  His group, Auxano, is named from the Greek word that Luke used to describe early church growth in the Book of Acts.  As a conference speaker, his charisma and knowledge of simplistically sharing the elements of steering the Church in today’s complexities provides the conferencees a blue-print plan of organizing their church.  He is multi-media and social media savvy, having a twitter post and blog spot in order to reach the new emerging leaders of today.  Will Mancini is influenced by his family and the job opportunities as a chemical engineer, pastor, and advertising agent.
The thesis of this book is that through a micro-cultural perspective of itself, the Church can identify its uniqueness or missional make-over through living the vision of God that creates a movement-oriented church, a surety to its DNA.  

He begins the book with an introduction where he delivers his story and process that is uniquely his to share.  He entices the reader to dig deeper and search for the elements of their own ministry context and the subsequent definitions of DNA.  He divides the book into four sections, each having specific connotations to visioning.  In his first section, author Mancini writes about recasting vision in respect to being a unique church.  He determines think-holes or barriers to leaderships, debunks the fallacies of strategic planning by allowing creativity to flourish and uses comprehensive historical perspectives to build a leader’s wider perspective of numerical church growth. Lastly, he compares church-goers and their identity with area space of ministry.

The second section of his book offers a clear path to clarifying vision, its benefits and barriers and how it is achieved and communicated.  He offers common-sense direction at pursuing God with an articulate vision or mantra. He stresses the importance of leading a life attuned to God and living out the vision He places upon His children.

Expressing the vision is the basis for the third section of the book.  This is the building-block process of declaring the definition of the vision.  It is the hands-on approach of seeing the vision with new eyes and reacting with certainty the way to embrace the missional mandate the Lord places upon individuals, leaders and churches.   Author Mancini offers a mapping tool to strategize a church’s mandate for vision and development.  In the expression phase, he explains in a further chapter the marks, the “clear ideal and the working definition of a disciple” that are the benchmarks of Christian examination.  [2008:154]   Mancini then furthers his framework analysis by expressing the urgency of communicating properly through being grounded, radical, connectional and daily evolutional.  Lastly in this section, he writes about the need to push forward, keep focus, measure progress, and ask for honest input.

Part four of the book advances the vision through never allowing the status quo to dictate your mission/ministry, keeping the vision aligned and attuned and by transforming hearts in the community in order to create community change.  The author closes by advancing thoughts of uniqueness upon each church, its culture and its community.

Several questions arise as to the author’s subject that is relevant to my context with Living Hope Fellowship: 1) what really is the most important thing to say to a core group to begin to cultivate the desire to communicate the vision of LHF at all levels? 2) After completing the conversation with a core group, how will we remind and disciple people in our church culture context that we are sent from God every day? 

With these questions in mind, I find that I have often dismissed or overlooked the importance of the aspects of vision.  Mancini carefully lays the ground-work for establishing a vision-conscious church.  The framework is intense and must be scaled to meet different church contexts, but there lies the element of uniqueness that he appreciatively communicates and admires. His usage of the Integration Model to justify weaving vision into the life of the church will expose the vision framework for full engagement among the congregation and leaders.

As a new church start-up and being vision-minded from the beginning, many times as a pastor, I have not contextualized the process repeatedly enough to integrate the vision in everything we do as a church.    In this respect, LHF suffers from lapsing or blurred vision, bad communication and from service fatigue.  In LHF’s current context, it is imperative that the vision be recast to develop a new personal formation of ownership, an ownership that leadership, core members and congregational members will buy into that generates an awareness of LHF as a unique church. In my ministry context, LHF is moving forward with some general discipleship standards as to this vision-process by the partnership forged with Senda Beth-el Church, a Spanish-speaking church, in order to develop an interest in starting a new Spanish-speaking church in Gladewater.  This is differentiating LHF among other churches in the community as collaborators in the Kingdom’s economy.  LHF is broadcasting a clear, simple message of how unique we are to the community.

Pastor Ben Bright is the Missional & Administration Pastor for LHF. This analysis was written as part of his studies at Fuller Seminary online.

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