Story of the Week - A CHURCH UNIQUE
Rev. Steven Cole, Northgate Community Church
The Brethren believers at Northgate Community Church in Manteca, CA, have the same heart as other Brethren Churches – to make a difference for Christ in our little corner of the world. Over many years, though, our efforts to grow and make disciples seem to have been a hit and miss proposition. Most recently we had a good start with the Natural Church Development and its individualized principles; yet we did not follow through completely. So when “Church Unique” was recommended to us by Gary Diehl, many of us on the leadership team had to work through some cynicism to get on board.
Our team was very aware that we had processed words like "vision, mission, and strategy" before. We did not want another notebook on our shelf filled with ideas that never get fully implemented.
At the end of 2011 the leadership of Northgate Community Church began a journey to discover how God had uniquely knit us together as a family of believers. We began by reading through the book, Church Unique: How Missional Leaders Cast Vision, Capture Culture, and Create Movement by Will Mancini. We decided to dig deeper into the process and purchased the full kit that walked our leadership team through the process outlined in the book.
So, what is Church Unique? Thankfully it is NOT learning how to look like some other successful ministry. Encouragingly, it is a process of finding out how God has “uniquely” made each church (people, values, talents, passions, etc.). The Church Unique process has led us to the discovery of things about our family of believers. We discovered what we really valued. We discovered the things that mattered most to us. We learned how God had uniquely pulled each of us together into this family of believers and how that uniqueness can be leveraged for the sake of the Kingdom of God.
As a leadership team we all agree that this process was hard and frustrating at times. But the effort we put into this was well worth it. It had us looking at every facet and angle of our church. After the first couple of sessions many of us were worried where this process was taking us. We realized early on that we would be asking difficult questions about how we practiced church. But by the end of our last session, we were enthusiastic about our clear and concise picture of the “whole” of our congregation and how each part connects to and supports the other as we serve the Lord. We have seen individual ministry passion in others reawakened because their passion was acknowledged in our identity and vision. We now believe that we are closer as a family and we have a clearer direction of where we are going and how we are going to get there. Many of us are now stepping out and ministering in new ways that we had not done before.
What’s next for us? We finished the initial process in August and now have the hard work ahead of us. We are now beginning to filter everything we do and say through the unique vision God gave us. We have a few measurable goals in front of us and we are processing how to achieve those goals. We hope to have achieved those goals over the next 12 months, but, just as importantly, it is the realization that the results of this process must be revisited regularly as the Holy Spirit continues to work in our church and within our community.
RESOURCE OF THE WEEK
It should come as no surprise that this week’s “Resource of the Week” is the book, Church Unique: How Missional Leaders Cast Vision, Capture Culture, and Create Movement by Will Mancini. Here is what the inside flap of the book jacket has to say:
“Church Unique offers church leaders a way to transform their leadership and vision with missional effectiveness.
Church Unique is written by church consultant Will Mancini—an expert on a new kind of visioning process to help churches develop a stunningly unique model of ministry that leads to redemptive movement. He guides churches away from an internal focus to emphasize participation in their community and surrounding culture. In this important book, Mancini offers an approach for rethinking what it means to lead with clarity as a visionary. Mancini explains that each church has a culture that reflects its particular values, thoughts, attitudes, and actions, and shows how church leaders can unlock their church's individual DNA and unleash their congregation's one-of-a-kind potential.
Mancini explores the pitfalls churches often fall into in their attempt to grow, such as adding more programs, using outdated forms of strategic planning, or adopting the latest conference technique. He explores a new model for vision casting and church growth that has been tested with leaders in all kinds of congregations, including mainline, evangelical, small, and large. The practices and ideas outlined in Church Unique will help leaders develop missional teams, articulate unique strategies, unpack the baggage of institutionalism, and live into their vision.”
Here are some sample chapters to whet your appetite and begin pondering if this resource could be of use to you and your church context:
• The Iniquity of Church Growth: Caging the Kingdom
• Hear the Cloud of Witnesses: Learning from Vision Legacies in Your Church
• Feel the Common Heartbeat: Values as Missional Motives
Gary Diehl has a few copies of this book on his bookshelf for anyone who is serious about this conversation. Mobilize, the Brethren Church’s arm for church health and resources, can help your church navigate this and other mobilization situations. Please do not hesitate to call Gary at 877-289-1708 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to get connected with a member of the Mobilize team.
The weekly update is a weekly e-publication of the Brethren Church highlighting a quick story of kingdom movement and impact amongst the Brethren and a reinforcing resource for further reflection and application.