Monday, February 20, 2017

BookPastor >> "God Dreams" (Will Mancini)

This review was first published on Aug 18th, 2016 at Panorama of a Book Saint.


TITLE: God Dreams: 12 Vision Templates for Finding and Focusing Your Church's Future
AUTHOR: Will Mancini
PUBLISHER: Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 2016, (288 pages).

Vision is an integral part of Church. Mission is an outflow of the vision. Both go together but how can we make the process more effective and clear? Without clarity, how can any organization know where to go and how to motivate their members to fulfill the objectives? What is the purpose of its existence? Many people know the importance but lack the necessary tools and processes to clarify their vision and mission. Based on more than 15 years of experience, more than 500 churches, and over 10000 hours of work with church team facilitation, author Will Mancini makes vision sharpening as a key priority in this book. He lists three benefits for reading this book.
  1. Leading meaningfully
  2. Inspiring the community
  3. Focusing on God's vision
By honing on clarifying our Church's vision and direction, Mancini believes that Church Identity; Church Direction; and Church Story can be connected as one. The six parts of the book are:
  1. Restart the Conversation: of vision and dreams
  2. Discover Visionary Planning: visualizing the future
  3. Find Your Future: Adopt templates toward fulfilling the goals
  4. Focus Your Long-Term Vision: 
  5. Execute Your Short-Term Vision
  6. Lead with Freedom: personalizing the vision
(From Will Mancini's "God Dreams" Overview)

The key distinctiveness in this book is the list of twelve templates. This is perhaps the best part about the book. It has everything a communicator would want for facilitating its use. The templates overall are freely available here. Mancini even has a very convenient set of "edge markers" to help readers jump straight into the explanations and use of it. This is particularly helpful for those of us in a hurry and want to get at the heart of the book. It comprises four quadrants, each comprising of three templates. The key thing is to remember that in vision focusing and clarifying, we are to choose at most two templates at any given time.

The first quadrant (North-East) is the "Become Templates." Like an arrow, it represents the strong desires of the community to want to advance the ministry forward and "Take It." The "Geographic Saturation" template is about identifying a geographic area within the neighbourhood and to flood the place with ministry resources, communication, outreach, and focus. The "Targeted Transformation" template sharpens the focus by directing energies toward a particular people, place, or thing for maximum level of transformation. The "People Group Penetration" template engages a particular people group different from the Church to serve and to proclaim the gospel, like how Austin Stone's For the City Center does for an unreached people group.

The second quadrant (South-East) is the "Rescue Templates" that rescues. It says "Save It." The "Institutional Renovation" template aims to inject new life or rejuvenate a jaded organization. It reminds me of the book "Renovation of the Church," a spiritual formation primer for churches. The focus is on relevance, and to do whatever it takes to connect the Church with the community positively. The "Need Adoption" template focuses on a specific need locally, regionally, or globally. The "Crisis Mobilization" is a response to the sudden crisis happening, such as a natural disaster or a tragedy.

The third quadrant (South-West) is the "Become Templates" that rescues. It says "Grow It." The "Spiritual Formation" template focuses on spirituality and maturity from the inside out. Whether it is spiritual maturity or inward transformation, it typically focuses on deeper Bible insights, prayer, and spiritual exercises. The "Presence Manifestation" template anticipates the presence of God and spreads one's spiritual awakening to the surrounding areas and neighbourhoods. Like Hope Church in Las Vegas that adopts a 5% time strategy to let the presence of God guide them and their daily living through God-time, Go-time, Gather-time, and Group-time. The "Obedient Anticipation" template is a result of a very clear revelation from God about what the Church should do. As people wait on God, they receive a specific sign and they align their resources and activities accordingly.

The second quadrant (North-East) is the "Overflow Templates" that brims over with enthusiasm and joy to say "Let it Go." The "Leadership Multiplication" template focuses on raising, developing, and releasing leaders to go forth and do God's will. Examples are the Reformation movement of the 16th Century and churches focused on church planting, like Vancouver's Westside churches. The "Cultural Replication" template is about replicating the Church model, such as ministry franchising or multi-site ministries, such as the Hillsongs ministry or Tim Keller's Redeemer Church. The "Anointing Amplification" model focuses on the strength of a ministry and amplifies it. It could be the presence of an anointed leader like CH Spurgeon or a modern Max Lucado.

So What?

My one word response to this book is "Wow!" Something so simple like vision and mission can be a tough thing to arrive at. I know of many churches that tend to be too general and too ambitious in wanting to be everything, willing to do anything, and hoping to reach everyone in every possible way. The problem is that it becomes too fluffy and too wide for churches to be effective at all. Without clarity of vision and the specific understanding of mission, even large churches will be stuck at limbo about how best to do ministry. As a result, many churches gravitate to what they do best: Inner ministries that sustain weekly activities. They hardly grow and will not make a dent to the potential excitement of sharing the passion of Jesus. Let me offer three thoughts about the book.

First, it is rather comprehensive for planning purposes. For churches and organizations wanting to know where they are, often, it is crucial not to sweep aside the general interests of different people wanting to do everything. When it comes to vision and focus, we need to remember that the 'enemy' of the good is not the bad but the next good in line. Without distinguishing one from the other, it is hard to bring the needed clarity and focus on what we have to do. The vision templates really help us to differentiate the wants from the real needs. More importantly, we are forced to be clear inside ourselves. The quadrants and templates help to give leaders a common starting point for engaging vision and planning. The way Mancini anticipates questions is particularly helpful. He gives ample answers to the potential questions like biblical principles, historical precedences, and contemporary practices to show us that it is not only possible but practical.

Second, there will be overlaps. From time to time, individuals may find certain templates indistinguishable from each other. I would encourage such people not to panic but to spend time praying, discussing, and understanding what the template is about. In some cases, it is entirely possible to combine two templates and create a brand new hybrid of the two. There is no rigidity as far as combining templates are concerned, as long as the maximum of two templates are adhered to. I would recommend that if there is a hybrid, then that hybrid would be the actual vision template for that organization. If it meant so much for the organization to define itself in that hybrid, then it is entirely possible that that hybrid be the key focus.

Third, it is a snapshot in time. Vision planning is never a static exercise. This is why organizations do annual planning to check where they are. What happens this year may not necessarily be the same for the next year. Use the templates on a regular basis not only for existing members but also for new members who enter the leadership circle from year to year.

I recommend this book highly for leaders of churches and Christian organizations wanting to know more of God's vision for their organizations.

Rating: 5 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of B&H Publishing in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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