Stories

October 27th, 2016

Worth the Wait – the Story of FBC Taylor

rise-up-logoThe post below was written by Kent Vincent, Auxano Lead Navigator.

How long has your church been chasing a dream? 5 years? 10 years? 20 years? First Baptist Church of Taylor, TX had been chasing the dream of relocation for 20 years. Each season brought them closer to the goal, but left them short in the funds needed to actually occupy the land purchased years before. In 2015 things changed! With ministries full of momentum and space maxed to capacity, it was clear that the time to revisit this dream was now. Desiring a different approach as they headed into this season, leadership began interviewing companies to help coach them through the process. Auxano was one of those companies.

The Auxano process was a completely different approach than anything else presented. When the Auxano team articulated a vision-based process focused on disciple making vs. chasing resources, “Fresh, but would it work?” thought longtime church member Jack Jordan. Kim Bruchner, Church Administrator for FBC, said, “We had been through several campaigns over the last 10 years and felt like Auxano would deliver a more holistic approach.”

With the campaign team assembled, Auxano providing direction and the wind of momentum at their back, FBC Taylor started once again to realize the dream revealed 20 years before. Like pieces of a puzzle, they assembled the corners first:

Corner 1 – Focus

As the team began to gain perspective by focusing on the journey to this point, an amazing truth emerged. The under-performing capital campaigns of the past actually were God’s provision for the future. Because of the faithful generosity of the congregation over the last 15 years, FBC now owned 16 acres of prime property completely debt free AND had amassed $1.5M in designated cash!

Corner 2 – Discipleship

It became clear that the process was going to be completely different this time around when Auxano made the following statements: “If you want to know when you’re going to fail – you’re going to fail when you chase the resources! “That’s not our job, that’s God’s job!”The historically awkward “money” conversation with key donors became a spiritual, disciple-making conversation. That was a change that energized Pastor Matt Hudson and allowed for significant buy-in from the congregation.

Corner 3 – Project

The team worked to clarify the project details, along with what impact those details would have on the congregation and community. What opportunities would this relocation provide for them that their current location would not? How will ministries differ in the new location versus the current location? Ultimately, what can FBC Taylor develop simultaneously alongside the campaign to insure that they will be prepared for any opportunities God opens up as a result of this relocation? That’s a holistic approach.

Corner 4 – Vision

Five years ago God began to stir a vision in FBC Taylor to be a congregation of spiritual “bridge builders” in order “to see the broken made whole in Christ.” This vision, now articulated with vivid language, drove the church to design a multi-purpose space in order to facilitate ministry seven days a week. Due to clarity of the vision, the building now became a tool to accomplish God’s dream for FBC. As this vision was communicated, hearts began to resonate with the picture of impact, and momentum already in motion became more intense. The result? There was no stopping this congregation as it began to “Rise Up!”

After months of detailed preparation, fervent prayer, open dialogue, fantastic communication, and the realization of God’s faithfulness historically and presently, the time had come to invest in this new future. While the dollar amount was clearly significant, the testimonies tell the true impact of God’s work. Team member Liz Odel testified that, “Unlike the guilt I felt in previous campaigns, I was overwhelmed with joy on commitment day.” With a desired goal of $1M in cash and pledges over 36 months, God created an unprecedented moment in the history of FBC Taylor by reaching $1.3M.

Now, with dirt being turned on a 20-year dream, Auxano is celebrating with FBC Taylor as they prepare for moving day

September 26th, 2016

Funding Your Missional Vision

church-at-the-mall-logo-drk-ltrAbout two years ago we received contact from Church at The Mall in Lakeland, FL. They had just launched an initiative with seven missional components. These action items were big, really big. The intent was to propel an already active church with a miraculous story into a bold new future. Of course, these seven missional objectives needed to be funded. Naturally, a three-year capital campaign would be the solution. HOLD ON! What if vision, alignment, and generosity could be the solution for their new future?

Here are the seven missional objectives, our approach, and some of the results we’ve seen less than two years into the work.

Missional Objectives:

  1. Raise $1million each year for missional causes while reducing church debt
  2. Maximize their outreach and efforts
  3. Advance and expand their media ministry
  4. Needs assessment for staff, space, finances, and times
  5. Launch a multi-site campus approach
  6. Develop a Center for Discipleship and Education
  7. Develop methodical and comprehensive life stage discipleship from cradle to college

Approach:

  1. Create two one-day offerings immediately to take a huge leap forward with debt reduction and missions giving. Palm Sunday was utilized to catalyze those who were passionate about debt reduction. The entire offering that Sunday was deposited toward their debt. Then on Easter Sunday, Church at the Mall built bridge relationships with multiple non-profits in the community that aligned with the church vision. The entire offering was given away to impact the city. It was a bold step on many fronts. The staff and church leaders needed to decide how committed they were to the missional objectives. What would happen if they gave two complete offerings away at the beginning of the year? How would that impact ministry, even their jobs? Their unified faith would be more than rewarded.
  1. Clarify their Vision, create culture, and discipleship Measures. The Vision Framing process of Auxano was utilized to create the organizational engine and culture needed to accomplish the seven missional objectives. A repeated priority on prayer, fasting, and the anointed life would provide the fuel. This focus led to a clear articulation of a three-pronged Strategy. The Strategy would align ministries to work best together delivering the results of their Vision. This would require big conversations related to aligning programming, staff, calendar, facility, and resources. Good activity would not compete with visionary accomplishment.
  1. Develop a Generous Culture. When Vision is clear, resources are aligned, and results are measurable, it releases people. They knew where the church was headed, how they could grow, where they could live a big life, and confidence that their generosity was making a difference beyond themselves. We identified the different types of givers in their church from those who gave nothing to those living generously beyond a tithe. Each person was able to identify with a giving hero in the Bible that was relatable to their stage of life and financial situation. Curriculum was developed. A year-long growth path was revealed. Every person and family could find their way to grow a generous life for the sake of long term kingdom investment.

Results:

  • Total church indebtedness was reduced by 26% or $1,056,799.
  • Total church missions giving increased by 35% or $216,953.
  • Yearly undesignated giving increased 6% and this is not counting the special offerings taken on two consecutive Sundays.
  • General offerings increased by 12% prior to summer months, and this is not including the special offerings received.
  • Average gift per family increased 21% year to date. (Measured the first several months of three consecutive years)
  • Families or individuals giving digitally increased 19%.
  • The church was given a church facility in a neighboring town worth $1,700,000. A new campus was launched with hundreds in attendance.
  • Media is being maximized via new brand development, website, and app.
  • Discipleship Measures were created for all ages along with custom written curriculum.
  • Outreach is on a path to being maximized via new outreach Bible studies, online services, and a new television program.

Not too bad for less than two years of focused activity. Dream big, get focused, pray boldly, and enjoy the clarity.


To visit Church at the Mall online, click here.

 

August 16th, 2016

Summer Slump or Surplus Season

Inverness signIt’s summer and the temperature is getting steamy in Birmingham, AL. Schedules are cranking up around the church and vacations are in full swing. For most church leaders the beginning of the “summer slump” is a somewhat regrettable season. It usually begins with a lack of resources from the first five months of the calendar year. This is either created by over-spending, under-giving, or a combination of both. Then summer is met with raised expenses due to mission trips and camps. All this while attendance and giving both decline. It can be the perfect storm every 12 months. What is commonly seen as unavoidable is totally curable.

I recently enjoyed a lunch with the Senior Pastor, Bubba Justice, and Executive Pastor, Steve Cole from Inverness Vineyard Church in Birmingham, AL. Their generosity report was very different. Here is what I heard:

  • Tithes and Offerings are up 8%
  • Total income is up 21% over projected budget
  • Giving is 8% ahead of expenses
  • Digital, weekday, and giving received in the mail is up 25%

Needless to say, this is a great way to head into summer and creates positive expectation beyond in both the staff and congregation as a whole. So how did we get here?

Step 1: Inverness Vineyard possessed a clearly articulated Motive (Value) for their organization in their Vision language. It is not a secret, but was collaboratively developed and is top-shelf on the minds of leaders. It states, “We are faithful with everything God has given us.” This clarity provides both a motivational feel and a filter for decisions. It reminds leaders to not live in another world, but to be faithful with their resources on that given day to fulfill the Vision.

Additionally, they possess a clearly articulated Habit (Measure) of a Christ-follower to help their church members better understand the path of spiritual development they need to walk. It states, “Give a regular offering in a God-honoring way.” Successful Christianity was moving beyond a dress code and event participation on a Sunday morning. This Habit is so clearly stated that a believer knows exactly how they are doing. Both a Motive for the leader and a Habit for the believer are great starting points, but they need a plan of accountable action.

Step 2: The church leadership was willing to name a substantial growth area that was hard. After doing some research, it was learned that 50% of the families or individuals attending Inverness Vineyard made no financial contribution in the course of a year. $0 was being given by 50% of the people. The Habit of “giving a regular offering” was an obvious discipleship need. This was shocking information when it was first realized. Inverness Vineyard is an average size church with hundreds of normal people in attendance, all while sitting in one of the most affluent counties in its state. It is certainly known for serving the poor as well as any church I know, but certainly 50% of the people could give something. Many times church leaders lack the grace needed to help individuals grow in the area of giving. Shame and guilt are unfortunately all too common results from how pastors address a struggle with generosity. Not the case at Inverness Vineyard. Grace abounds and practical steps with supporting help were on the way.

Step 3: Further conversations developed and it was learned that there are actually multiple types of givers noted in both the Scriptures and realized in their church. These needed to be articulated, affirmed, and led. Five types of givers developed from the “Consuming Giver” to “Overflowing Giver.” Each giver would have a Bible hero to learn from and follow. Personal growth steps that were helpful and practical would be provided. All ages would be engaged. What was needed was not a fund raising campaign for a project, but an opportunity to help people discover God’s best for their financial lives. It was about the people learning to honor God with their generosity, not about a financial need or crisis in the life of the church. Finally, this would not be a short team emphasis, but a long-term strategy of consistent spiritual growth.

Step 4: The staff had to learn a new language and practice new disciplines. Money can be seen as an unfortunate conversation that is forced or one to be avoided at all cost. Most staff members are more than glad to have their pastor address it, but will stand far back when it comes to vision and generosity. They needed clarity and confidence. The team needed to see generosity as a spiritual discipline just like prayer or Bible study. This released their creative energy. Confidence increased among the team as collaboration began. They were beginning to see how they could be “faithful” as leaders with all God had entrusted to them. When clarity and confidence joins the party success becomes highly probable.

Step 5: So you know this is just the beginning of their generosity story. Inverness Vineyard has only begun living generously and it doesn’t stop with their finances. People are now storing personal resources awaiting God’s voice of where to direct their giving. They are making adjustments as disciples to live for the Kingdom. Five Cities of Hope have begun. (Think small groups set on turbo to become house churches and church plants.) Their goal this year was to start three. God exceeded their expectations as only He could. One City Of Hope is living generously by taking on the mission of giving clothes to the poor in their community. These life giving new units are spread across the metro Birmingham area overflowing generosity. The reach of Inverness Vineyard has expanded far beyond its current location. The spiritual discipline of generosity actually fuels far more than the offering plate. It produces positive energy toward many relationships and efforts. It is safe to say the money conversation has changed forever.

It probably doesn’t surprise you to realize that both avoiding money as a spiritual conversation and chasing money to meet a need can have disastrous consequences. If you are passionate about God’s plan for generous living, then that is a completely different story. God has a vision for your church and all the resources to accomplish the vision. Learn to avoid the fund raising mindset and pressure with a whole new generosity culture. Your team and people will be glad you did.

 

Generous Life logo

Click here to learn more about our new resource, Generous Life. Generous Life is a 5-session study with sermon outlines and small group guides for adults, youth, and children.

July 20th, 2016

$11 Million Reasons Vision Matters: The Calvary Clearwater Story

x150Imagine for a moment that the future of your church’s successful completion of the Mission depended on the acquisition of an Italian American Club, the building of a gym for a school, and developing a permanent facility for your smallest campus. Each of these projects in and of themselves could feel very small. They are rather disconnected in affinity, scope, and proximity. Even when you combine them together, they would still not tell the grand story of God’s future dream.

This is where Pastor Willy Rice and Calvary Church in Clearwater, FL found themselves. Their God Dream and Vision Frame would become a valuable tool in catalyzing a powerful movement forward. These small, isolated projects became a part of a bigger 10-year dream. The church leadership would look to its strengths and the past work of God. From this an “x150 Vision” was birthed.

The main campus needed to expand its acreage so it could extend its ministry in the future. God had used the young school to see great success. Students were being raised up to impact culture, even resulting in future church staff members in their multi-campus ministry. The Clearwater Campus was ready to multiply again. They saw a third campus in their near future. The East Lake Campus was filling every seat in multiple hours. Its dramatic growth was now at a ceiling. A church plant was being launched in Pittsburgh. Finally, their needs would take them overseas with the starting of new congregations.

These projects actually rose from the past work of God and now had cracked the door open seeing into the future. They were just a small glimpse of God’s bigger dream. Calvary would launch a “Decade dream of multiplying by 100 churches internationally, 25 churches nationally and 25 churches locally.” The result was $11 million given by Calvary people toward the Vision with over $2 million being received immediately in cash. This was the largest amount that had been given in their long 150-year history.

Here is what we learned:Calvary Worship

1. You can fund a project or you can resource a Vision.

The church will always have projects. Sometimes they will be great, like a new worship center, relocation, or an orphanage overseas. However, sometimes you will be called to do little things, repair some things, or update some stuff. Every choice we make should always point toward the fulfillment of the bigger Vision. Our response should not be limited to what we like about a project or how we personally value it. The Vision of the church should be so clear that conversations are moved beyond the small to celebrating the big.

2. You can be a motivator of people raising money or you can disciple them using your Vision Frame.

Capital campaigns date back to the science of marketing in the early 1900’s. This is where the fund raising thermometer was born. Fund raising is typically seen as a short run initiative that results in a large influx of dollars. It can feel uncomfortable to the leader and outside of normal culture. The staff can even dread it, though all know it is necessary.

When projects, needs, and money are thrust to the forefront, the pressure of fund raising can force an untrue vision – one that is not anchored strongly in the past or seen clearly directing the future. These short-term, isolated campaigns while creating momentary success can erode future confidence. Calvary has changed the conversation forever. It’s no longer about money, but about global impact. The “X150 Vision” will be measured by immediate action, as each initiative is now live toward the 10-year goal. Three years of giving will turn into a steady surplus of resources.

3. You can get stuck in complexity or you can release people toward your 10-year Horizon Story Line.

Many pastors lack the confidence it takes to talk about money. Church people don’t always understand how certain projects actually move the church forward. If Pastor Willy Rice had gotten stuck in the complexity of projects and experienced a lack of confidence, he would have never seen the two young girls who went door to door in their neighborhood selling pencils, because they wanted something to give. The unemployed homeless man would have not received his blessing of two job offers. The new family would have remained on the sideline. The businessman would have never dreamed about how to live a big life by connecting his resources to an unreached group of people. You see, everyone dreams and everyone has resources whether big or small. God has a dream for all of our resources to accomplish exponentially more for us, in us, and through us.

If you don’t believe me, just listen to what Pastor Willy Rice concluded. “Finally, let me conclude this exciting report by saying our X150 campaign has changed the conversation at Calvary. We now speak of our church vision as not addition, but multiplication. The impetus to multiply leaders and churches has created a momentum that cannot be ignored. Pray with me that God will grant it for His glory and that as Calvary moves past our 150th anniversary, we will not move past this new dream of multiplying by 150 over the coming decade. May it be a driving vision for the coming decade and by God’s grace may the dream become a reality. Your faithfulness and generosity in our X150 campaign is a huge step forward to seeing that very thing happen.”

For more information on Calvary’s “X150” click here (http://www.calvarybaptist.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=296405&articleId=56961).

To view Calvary’s 1/4/1/4 and Horizon Storyline vivid descriptions click here.

May 24th, 2016

When Generosity Floods

Announce_BigGive_NonProfitsV2Are you ready for a flood? Are you praying for a flood? Are you anticipating a flood? A flood can be devastating, transformative, or a combination of both. Imagine waking up one Sunday morning to learn that torrential rains, road closings, and a local natural disaster in the making are potentially washing your big day away. This was the story of Mike Walker, the Senior Pastor of The Bayou Church.

My first text read, “Attendance was unbelievably low, so were all the other churches I have spoken with…hammered bad.”

Now let me back up and provide some context. The Bayou Church is in Lafayette, LA. Right in the middle of oil country, which has experienced months of financial challenges. While the rest of the country has enjoyed dropping gas prices, long-standing oil communities have been enduring catastrophic loss of income. Year to date, The Bayou Church was experiencing a giving drop of 11%. Imagine losing those resources and the effect it can have immediately on your ministry.

However big this loss may appear to a church leader, it could not overshadow the pain of the loss of local jobs. Individuals and families were hurting, so a strategy was put in place to focus the resources to not compromise the Mission, and also to not ignore the devastation on individuals or families. It was decided, “The Big Give” (a designated offering to five local non-profits serving the hurting in the city) would occur. A multi-month plan was put into place to reframe the church’s resources solely focused on the Mission, create a pathway for individuals to grow in generosity, and to deliver big resources to the points of need in the community.

Then, my next text read, “Here are some early totals…The Big Give $105,000 WOW (designated gifts) plus $41,000 undesignated receipts…so approximately $146,000 day…wow, that is really Courageous Generosity…and when you factor in the attendance was less than half the normal attendance (due to torrential rain and flooding)…Glory To God Amazing!”

Then, my third text arrived, “Todd, just sent the Trustees…Love giving updates on The Big Give. Total on Wednesday afternoon–$151,300. Plus I have 2 verbal’s from strong members that their checks will add to $14,000. That means we’ll have a minimum of $165,000 to build points of light in Acadiana and Transform Lives!!!!!!”

Next, an email update would read, “The Big Give has shown us that we have a big God that has blown us all away with Courageous Generosity. I am still shaking my head in disbelief at what God has done through our people giving $170,000 total to Big Give…Oh don’t forget on top of all that Big Give money, the hearts of The Bayou Church people on Sunday were moved mightily by God. Our budget offering was Spectacular–General Budget $114,000!! To God Be All The Glory!!! Like we have said this is God’s economy.”

The Bayou Church finance office sent us this official bit of perspective of what they saw during the Courageous Generosity Series:

  • Family giving units increased by 40.
  • Monthly contributions to the budget increased by $19,300.
  • Contributions to the budget during and after the series averaged 12% more than the same period in 2015.
  • Giving units during the series averaged 15% more than the same period in 2015.
  • Contributions to the budget on May 8, 2016 totaled $114,000, the 15th highest contribution Sunday in Bayou history! That is amazing, considering an additional $170,000 was donated to The Big Give.

So what were some keys to this flood of generosity?

1. You will experience a flood of generosity when you have a clearly stated Mission that is more important than your circumstances. The Bayou Church’s Mission is to “transform lives in Acadiana through Christ centered relationships.” This Missional Mandate is not measured in money or stopped by physical experiences.

2. You will experience a flood of generosity when you have an inspiring view from the Mountaintop. The Bayou Church has a 10-year Vision in which they will “permeate Acadiana with Christ centered relationships, making this a reality by having a point of light in every neighborhood.” It began by resourcing the community, building bridges for ministry.

3. You will experience a flood of generosity when you have clear Milestones to drive your team, holding all your resources accountable for success. The Bayou Church had determined that by the end of 2016 they would experience “500 families giving generously.” This is so specific that they will know if they succeed.

4. You will experience a flood of generosity when you deliver a path of growth helping your people Measure their steps toward the spiritual discipline of personal generosity. The Bayou Church has a Measure in their Vision Frame that states: “Do I practice generous giving?” This Measure called forth a path of five steps of growth from a Beginning Giver to an Extravagant Giver in order to live Courageous Generosity culminating in The Big Give.

The final text I received sums it up so well, “Almost weeping at the power and glory and awesomeness of God. Wow!”

To learn more about The Big Give:

The Big Give video

Article by the Louisiana Baptist Message

Download The Bayou Church’s Vision Frame