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God Dreams: 12 Vision Templates for Finding and Focusing Your Church's Future Hardcover – January 1, 2016
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About the Author
Warren Bird, Ph.D., is an award winning author (ECPA Gold Medallion and other awards) who has written or collaboratively authored 27 books for Christian leaders. With background as a pastor and seminary professor, he currently is director of research and intellectual capital development for Leadership Network, a nonprofit that helps leading churches move from ideas to implementation to impact. He is one of the world’s leading researchers of megachurches and multisite churches. Follow him on Twitter at @warrenbird.
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"God Dreams" forms a counterpoint to Mancini's earlier work, "Church Unique: How Missional Leaders Cast Vision, Capture Culture, and Create Movement" (www.churchunique.com). "Church Unique" (whose content is summarized in an appendix of "God Dreams") introduced Mancini's process for discerning the answers to the "five irreducible questions" of an organization—its "Vision Frame"—which describe what makes one's church different from ten thousand others. A church's answers to the first four questions—its mission, values, strategy, and measures—are permanent or nearly so. But the fifth question—"Where are we going?", answered with "Vision Proper"—changes with time. "God Dreams" is a vast expansion on how to discern Vision Proper and how to lead according to it.
Part One of "God Dreams" ("Restart the Conversation") outlines why visions and dreams—including in an organizational sense—are essential for the church, for the kingdom of God, and even simply for being human. Chapter 3, "Obsessing with Now," contains an astoundingly provocative and inspiring list of "twelve compelling reasons to think long."
In Part Two ("Discover Visionary Planning"), Mancini introduces the tool that is the core of the book, the "Horizon Storyline." The Horizon Storyline is the picture in the middle of the Vision Frame. It consists of four interlocking ranks of vision:
• Beyond-the-horizon vision, 5 to 20 years away—one long-range, visionary picture
• Background vision, 3 years away—four long-range, strategic areas of focus
• Midground vision, 1 year away—one short-range, visionary picture and metric (corresponding to the original Vision Proper concept in "Church Unique")
• Foreground vision, 90 days away—four short-range, strategic goals
In Part Three ("Find Your Future"), Mancini sketches twelve templates in four categories ("Advance," "Rescue," "Become," "Overflow"). The form of a church's beyond-the-horizon vision is invariably described by one or a combination of two of these templates. The content that fills the form is a product of the peculiar church and its ministry setting.
Part Three contains powerful tools that greatly accelerate the process of discerning beyond-the-horizon vision. Part Four ("Focus Your Long-Range Vision") contains tips and exercises for depicting the beyond-the-horizon vision in words that serve as jet fuel for staff and volunteers for a decade or more. It also gives instruction for how to distill the four strategic priorities of the background vision that concretely shape long-range ministry decisions.
Part Five ("Execute Your Short-Range Vision") teaches how to define a midground vision with a single picture and a single metric that rallies the entire leadership corps in the same direction for one year. Then Mancini describes general principles and a menu of mix-and-match methods for naming the granular, foreground goals that advance the church toward its destination in the week-to-week grind.
"God Dreams" concludes with Mancini's expressed wish that the Horizon Storyline would enable pastors to "Lead with Freedom" (Part Six). Here an unanswered question arises. Mancini's final pep talk assumes a nearly indistinguishable alignment of the lead pastor's dreams and those of the church. But I do not believe that Mancini assumes that this is always the case. How, practically, does a pastor lead a church according to God's dream for it when he or she suspects that his or her own life is about to veer in a different direction, such as through semi-retirement or a completely different form or location of ministry?
Other unanswered questions—these rather surprisingly unaddressed—are when, how often, and how to renew the long-range vision. Two years after shaping a Horizon Storyline, the 3-year background vision is at the same depth as the 1-year midground vision. What happens then? Are the background and beyond-the-horizon visions to be renewed once they are achieved, or sooner?
The brilliance of a highly skilled practitioner is that he makes very difficult actions look easy. The brilliance of a highly skilled teacher is that he makes very difficult actions be comprehended and practiced easily. Mancini is both. The blurbs on the cover are no joke; after reading "God Dreams" it makes one wonder how a church could function faithfully without it.
Obviously, the Holy Spirit has been around a lot longer than Mancini's genius, and he has been speaking to God's people in dreams and visions for millennia. But the thrill of "God Dreams" is as an amplifier to hear the Holy Spirit's voice . . . and as an amplifier to channel his power that courses through all parts of Christ's body as they serve his will. If "God Dreams" achieves its promise, it will have democratized discernment among myriad outposts of the kingdom of God.
I received an advance review copy of God Dreams from the author.q
First Baptist Church, Clarksville, AR
I have followed the Clarity Evangelist (Will Mancini) for some time through hearing him speak several times, subscribing to SUMS Remix, and reading Church Unique.
This book, God Dreams, presents a most practical plan for participating in “God Dreams”. My book shelves have so many strategic planning books, vision books, and leadership books that I cannot keep them organized. What I have found in God Dreams is that the authors, Mancini and Bird, have read all of the books I have and more. They have been informed by great leaders and have accumulated a great breadth and depth of experience. This is what they bring to the table in God Dreams.
I feel this is a seminal, watershed book. Several ideas in the book evoke tears of joy. One is that vision is for everyone, and not just those highly gifted, visionary leaders of churches of over 10,000. This book does not seek to glorify the vision of any one person or church, but seeks to help the reader to discover, communicate, and implement the plans that God has for your specific congregation. The book is replete with examples and step-by-step guidance that can create movement for the plateaued and/or confused church. The book guides you to answer the question “Where is God taking us?” and provides the best templates I have seen to help you to get there.
I can’t wait to get my church leadership team to interact with the concepts of this book.
For years we feel we have “been on the right track” and have had solidly Biblical plans for bringing glory to God. I feel following the plans laid out in God Dreams can give us traction in stepping into our true identity and desired future as a congregation.
My next step is to call Auxano to explore how they might help with guiding us in resourcing our church. I am convinced this big picture of discipleship and how the Kingdom of God advances is the needed approach.
Thank you, Will and Warren!