Mancini, Will and Warren Bird. God Dreams: 12 Vision Templates for Finding and Focusing Your Church’s Future. Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Publishing Group, 2016. 261 pp. $19.99.
I don’t love the name of this book. “God Dreams” sounds nebulous and vague. If I wasn’t given a free copy to review, I probably wouldn’t pick it up. Would it tell me to tromp around the forest dreaming up ideas of God and then draw pictures in my Moleskine notebook? What are these “12 vision templates” and why does that sound so hazy and amorphous?
While the title leaves something to be desired, God Dreams: 12 Vision Templates for Finding and Focusing Your Church’s Future is a very good, clear, and helpful book. The purpose of the book, in the author’s own words, “is to lead your team to breakthrough clarity by zeroing in on a picture of your church’s long-term future” (xxiv) through various tools, exercises and illustrations to guide a leadership team.
The book is broken into six parts. It begins by highlighting the problem of generic and general vision statements that are uninspiring and unclear. From there he makes the case for his Horizon Storyline model which involves crafting a vision for beyond the horizon (5-20 years), background vision (3 year), midground vision (1 year) and foreground vision (90 days). In other words, Mancini creates a long-range and short-range vision with actionable plans and goals. From there, Mancini guides the reader through his 12 vision templates that correspond with one of four areas: overflow, advance, become and rescue.
While these terms are unclear for the unacquainted, Mancini does a great job explaining in great detail each element of the vision template and the necessary steps to craft a non-generic vision statement. The remaining parts of the book clarify, guide and define the rest of the 12 vision templates and how to put them into practice in a church leadership context.
The book’s greatest strength is that Mancini writes as an experienced practitioner (Mancini founded Auxano, a church consulting group). He has likely spent tens of thousands of hours thinking about church vision statements and guiding church leaders in clarifying their vision. Mancini writes with experience, includes relevant and current examples, and even provides eye-opening samples of what other churches have done.
Benefit for Pastoral Ministry
“Love God and love others.”
“Make disciples of Jesus for the good of our community.”
“Engage, encourage and equip God’s people to live for Christ.”
Vision and mission statements are a standard part of church life. What will our church be about? What will we put our time, energy and resources into? What do we want to see in the next year, five years or 25 years? How will we disciple our people over the next ten years? How will we engage the changing demographics of our community? All of these questions are important and often overlooked, and they are related to vision.
God Dreams by Mancini provides a way to craft a crystal clear, contextually informed vision statement that includes the ever-so-important actionable steps and plans to actually accomplish the stated vision. This book is helpful for pastors of small churches to large multisite congregations seeking to focus their church vision in order to inspire their staff, leadership, and people.
If your elders, staff or lay leadership haven’t a clue how the next five years should unfold, or even what the church desires to be or do or who it will reach, then Mancini’s book is a good place to begin. The images are helpful, the templates he provides are instructive and the guidelines will help inform each member of your team to participate in the process of discerning the church vision.
Repeatedly, I found myself resonating with much of what Mancini has written. This is a vital and important resource I plan to come back to again. While the Proverbs 16:9 makes clear that ultimately God establishes a man’s plans, failure to plan is unacceptable (Luke 14:28-32; Proverbs 14:15). Pastors, consider whether your vision statement is clearly defined and moving your church forward to fulfill its purpose.
Essential — Recommended — Helpful — Pass It By
God Dreams by Mancini is an essential resource for pastors trying to formulate or clarify their church vision statement in order lead with freedom and inspire their congregation to impact the world for Christ’s glory.