By Art Toalston
ENGLEWOOD, Colo. (BP) — Eight state Baptist conventions — at their own initiative — are moving toward sweeping changes.
The conventions’ goal: adding value to their churches.
Colorado Baptists — the first to launch a broad revisioning — are now in the second year of a process facilitated by Will Mancini, a Houston-based church consultant/coach and author.
Nathan Lorick, executive director of the Colorado Baptist General Convention, said the process aims to help churches “discover, design, and execute” strategies to make “a greater Gospel impact in their respective communities.”
This “strategic revisioning and relaunching has positioned our convention to best assist our churches in moving forward together to accelerate the Gospel in Colorado.”
“Our convention realized we must shift from being reactive to proactive,” Lorick told Baptist Press. “We knew we needed to reposition our organization to add value to churches like never before. Through our revisioning with Will Mancini and his team, we are now poised to have the greatest days ahead as a network of churches.
“We know how quickly culture changes,” Lorick said. “This includes the culture within the SBC. Colorado Baptists were resolved to change the culture of how we operate and execute as a convention. We believe as we help change the culture, we can help change the world.”
Nearly 70 Colorado churches, among 350 in the convention, are engaged in the initial “Next Step” process.
Ohio Baptists, meanwhile, are just beginning their venture toward a new future with the help of Mancini’s ministry named Denominee, denoting both the idea of a religious body and of a value such as currency that comes in different denominations.
The Mission Council of the 750-church State Convention of Baptists in Ohio (SCBO) voted unanimously July 25 “to learn how best to add value to the churches,” as noted by SCBO President Ryan Strother, pastor of Central Baptist Church in Marion.
According to a news release from the Ohio convention, “The core of the three-year journey is a sequence of full-day, on-site consulting experiences with a state convention ‘Future Team.’ These sessions will feature assessment, training, dialogue, decision-making, planning, and implementation coaching. The end result will redefine how the SCBO can best add value to its member churches, including a strategic implementation plan.
“The Future Team will consist of approximately 12 members, appointed by the convention president, and drawn from SCBO staff and volunteers, local pastors and other thought-leaders from throughout the state. During the process, a broader group of key influencers will be invited to give input at key checkpoints along the way…. Denominee [also] will include video conferences, regional collaborative events and an annual summit to engage SCBO member churches throughout the visioning process.”
Jack Kwok, SCBO executive director-treasurer, said Denominee offers “a process under the leadership of the Holy Spirit to identify and implement a more effective strategy and structure to assist cooperating Ohio Southern Baptist churches in obeying Christ’s Great Commission.”
Six other state conventions also are utilizing Denominee’s revisioning, with partial funding by the North American Mission Board.
NAMB President Kevin Ezell said Mancini “does a great job helping ministries and leaders maximize their strategic effectiveness. Over the years, state leaders have expressed to me a need for this kind of consulting resource and NAMB is happy to help provide it. Ultimately, we want to see pastors and churches served well and for our partners to have a significant impact.”
Mancini leads Denominee as the third organization he has founded since transitioning from pastoral work to full-time church consulting in 2001. In 2004 he started Auxano, a nonprofit which serves 400 churches yearly in Southern Baptist and other evangelical denominations through onsite consulting, training and certification of services that include visionary planning, leadership development and capital campaign design. In 2016 he started Younique, a company that helps leaders deliver personal visioning and life planning to members and attenders in their churches. He is the author of “God Dreams: 12 Vision Templates for Finding and Focusing Your Church’s Future” and “Church Unique: How Missional Leaders Cast Vision, Create Culture and Create Movement.”
Through Denominee’s work with state conventions and Baptist associations, “we’re trying to help local churches thrive through biblical network leadership that thrives,” Mancini told Baptist Press, by “activating a new imagination for how groupings of churches flourish and how the network brings value to those local churches.”
The local church is “a complete local expression of the body of Christ,” he said. “But we as Southern Baptists have always believed in partnering for the sake of … going beyond what one church can do.”
Mancini said he works as a “strategic outsider,” his preferred term for a church consultant. His aspiration is for every church to have its own strategic outsider — “someone who brings a strategic viewpoint from an outside objective vantage point … not entangled emotionally with the dynamic inside the organization, but who brings fresh insight. Each three-year process is customized based on several realities, including the current state strategy, the current level of church engagement and the unique needs and opportunities in each region.”
Although Auxano has become somewhat of a network as new churches every year use their vision and discipleship tools, Mancini said he began to sense God’s direction toward something larger.
“I don’t want to compete with all of these other preexisting networks of state conventions and local associations,” he said. “I want to add value to them, and I want to help them add value to their churches.”
For more information about Denominee contact Mancini at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Art Toalston is senior editor of Baptist Press.