Great Teams Need Great FollowUp Emails

Conducting a successful vision planning retreat takes courage, investment, and trust. First, courage is required to make a conviction-driven ask of your leaders to collaborate and fully engage in a conversation about God’s better future for your church. Second, an investment is required, because the commitment of time and financial resources to a visionary plan brings a necessary and natural accountability to the congregation. Last, trust is needed because inviting others into the vision conversation might involve receiving outside perspectives and handling honest input.

However, just conducting a successful retreat is not enough. The real power of a visionary plan like the Horizon Storyline lies within the successful execution of your initial set of 90-day initiatives. This first-foreground horizon usually provides the momentum toward overall plan accomplishment. Therefore it is of vital importance to communicate progress to your entire leadership team, especially those on the front lines of action and activity.

The following outline provides the general framework of a quick visionary plan progress report. You can see how it also works to affirm the team and even enlist more significant commitment if needed. The flow of a great 90-day initiative follow-up email goes something like this:

  1. Tell the team how thankful you are for them.
  2. Affirm the lasting impact of their efforts.
  3. Share a story in 2-3 sentences that demonstrates impact.
  4. Give an honest and high-level overview of the current status.
  5. Summarize progress on each in only one sentence.
  6. Affirm the staff and/or lay leader for each initiative.
  7. (A) – Close with another brief, meaningful word of thanks.

-or-

    7. (B) –  Circle back around to ONE initiative that needs help.
  1. Expand on the need with 2-3 sentences of detail.
  2. Make a clear ask from your leaders.
  3. If there is not something to do, then you should’ve ended the email at 7(A) above.
  4. Encourage engagement by affirming the 5-10 year vision.
  5. Close with another brief, but challenging word of thanks.

Here is a great example I recently received that uses many of the elements and the flow. This email was sent from an Auxano client-pastor (names and core content has been changed for privacy reasons) and illustrates a great 90-day initiative progress report email:

Greetings visioning team!

I’m pleased to report that the Elders have unanimously adopted our work without redaction. Thank you to Vince who worked with me to present the whole as a unified piece. All of your hard work was met with resounding excitement, thanks again for your time and thoughtful engagement. 

One of the Elders in attendance was able to clearly articulate their excitement about what is next, and apply it to her life and the potential impact on her neighbors. She affirmed this direction and will commit to engaging alongside each of us. 

Our meeting focus was on the short-range vision proper: the one year horizon and the 90-day initiatives. We broke up into teams to work on those five components, which gave everyone an opportunity to get their hands into activating this vision rather than just talking about it. There was positive energy and we have some momentum. On Tuesday, August 13, the Elders will meet for an extended deep dive into the background “big Ideas” and develop the 90 day pieces. Until then they will be chewing on our work and they may ask you some questions.

We still have some next step assignments to do from our Auxano Vision Framing sessions. Please make sure to get to work on these and feel free to invite current elders and others on the visioning team into your conversations. Our first round of 90-day initiative work is due by the end of September. Please see the below list for particulars on the assignments before us, as well as who is doing what. 

Cindy is the point leader for “Create a Stop Doing list”  – This needs immediate attention and must be handled carefully as some ministries with great impact years ago need to be phased out. 

Gordon is the point leader for “First Neighborhood Connection Event” – This will happen by the end of the month in my neighborhood.

Joseph is the point leader for “Fall Vision Frame Roll-Out Plan” – We have carved out 5 Sundays from late September into early October to communicate in worship and small groups. 

Mary is the point leader for “Celebrate Children & Youth” – We are coming off a strong summer and have been collecting stories at Bible School, Youth Camp and Children’s Camp, look for more here soon.

I’ll be working most closely with Joseph, but please keep me in the loop on the others and I’ll check in with you. We need a couple more of you to weigh in on the “Stop Doing List” – who can jump on a call with Cindy next Monday during lunch?

To keep our work in one place, and so we can check in with each other easily (hopefully), I’ve sent each of you an invitation to the communication tool we use at the church office: SLACK. This allows us to chat, and load and work on documents collaboratively. If this does not work, please let me know!

Thanks to each of you for the work you’ve put in thus far. Once we’ve completed this next phase, likely we’ll be in a good place to appoint a new visioning team and to give the congregation an opportunity to celebrate what each of you have put into this. I’m so grateful for each of you, and have appreciated getting to know you more through this process.

Grace and Peace,
Pastor 
PS – This progress report email flow is not restricted to just the Horizon Storyline follow-up. Anytime as a pastor, you have asked leaders to work toward a common goal – and they have responded – excellent communication is critical. Where can you apply this flow in the next 2 weeks to communicate success and appreciate your leaders?
> Read more from Bryan.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryan Rose

Bryan Rose

As Lead Navigator for Auxano, Bryan Rose has a strong bias toward merging strategy and creativity within the vision of the local church and has had a diversity of experience in just about every ministry discipline over the last 12 years. With his experience as a multi-site strategist and campus pastor at a 3500 member multi-campus church in the Houston Metro area, Bryan has a passion to see “launch clarity” define the unique Great Commission call of developing church plants and campus, while at the same time serving established churches as they seek to clarify their individual ministry calling. Bryan has demonstrated achievement as a strategic thinker with a unique ability to infuse creativity into the visioning process while bringing a group of people to a deep sense of personal ownership and passion.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Understanding the Four Horizons of Vision

Do you really understand visionary planning?

As a leader, can you clarify the difference between having a vision and having a plan? Vision is about the picture of your church’s future. A plan is about the steps to get there.

The vision answers the question, “Where is God taking us?” The plan answers the question, “What are the next best steps, and how do they relate?”

Solution – Understanding the Four Horizons of Vision

THE QUICK SUMMARY – God Dreams by Will Mancini

Is your team excited about the next big dream for your church?

You are a visionary leader and your church probably has a vision statement. Yet most churches are stuck in a trap of generic communication without a truly visionary plan. Just like a visionary restaurant needs a more specific focus than “serving food,” a visionary church needs something more than biblical generalizations like “loving God, loving people” or “making disciples and serving the world.”

When a team doesn’t share an understanding of God’s next big dream, leadership grows tired, overworked by an “all things to all people” ministry approach. Too often there’s no unified picture of what success looks like. People can feel uninspired and your church’s programming can seem more optional than ever.

Ministry without clarity is insanity. Are you ready for a better way?

In this groundbreaking work, based on Will Mancini’s 15 years and over 10,000 hours of church team facilitation, God Dreams reveals a simple and powerful planning method that will bring energy and focus to your church like never before.

First, God Dreams shows how to reclaim the role of long-range vision today by providing 12 vision templates, each with biblical, historical, and contemporary illustrations. These vision starters will dramatically accelerate your team’s ability to find complete agreement regarding your church’s future.

Second, God Dreams explains how to overcome the fruitless planning efforts that many church teams experience. With a tool called the Horizon Storyline, leaders can connect short-term action steps with the long-range dream, while leveraging the power of storytelling to make the plan “stick.” This tool will galvanize a diverse team of ministry leaders and volunteers with unprecedented enthusiasm.

Imagine leading with a refreshed sense of freedom and confidence, with a totally new way to inspire your church. Imagine the ability to harness the energy and resources of your people toward a specific dream of gospel impact, in your church and in your lifetime.

God Dreams is your passport to leading into a better future.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Your eyes can focus on multiple horizons. As you are reading this document, look up and notice what is in your midground – a desk and chairs, other people?

Now look to the background and note what you see. A window to look through or a bookshelf?

The document itself and your arms and hands are in your foreground.

Without moving your head, experience the ability to focus in and out of these three horizons going back and forth quickly. That’s called accommodation. It’s a natural reflex that is happening subconsciously all day long. But it’s also a voluntary process. You can consciously control it whenever you want, as you probably did while trying the exercise.

What’s natural to your daily life can also be natural to your church’s organizational life. It is possible to use the three basic distances you are zooming in and out of all day long to build a visionary planning model.

In fact, the primary reason for vision in human-body functions is to guide and direct movement. The same might be said of your visionary plan: it exists to guide and direct movement for the church body as a whole.

The Horizon Storyline is a tool to develop the right amount of vision content for the right time in the future, for the entire leadership team.

The breakthrough of the Horizon Storyline is the development of a planning tool that fits human experience. It’s natural to grasp, using the way we already see, think, and communicate. What if we could forever remove the “it’s just too complicated” barrier? What if your planning tool would intuitively and immediately make sense? What if it would actually be fun to revisit over and over again?

The Horizon Storyline is defined by how we see different “horizons” in our field of vision every day. This idea is illustrated in a landscape painting, with the background far away as the eyes can see; a focal point of the piece in the midground that draws and keeps your focus; and an object in the foreground up close, right before your eyes.

To start, we just carry over the simple idea of background, midground, and foreground using those as names for three of our four planning horizons. We will simply see them as horizons, not in three-dimensional space but into the future. They are time horizons.

Here’s how it works. The near future we will define as ninety days away. That is the foreground vision. The next horizon, the midground vision, we define as one year away. And the furthest horizon we can “see” as an organization is the background vision, defined as three years away. The eyes of your church or ministry should be able to “see” this amount of time into the future.

Now that leaves one more horizon to define. This fourth horizon is just a little farther than you can clearly see. It’s just past your visible range. I call that “beyond the horizon” as a reminder that it is far away, just over the next mountain range, so to speak. I define this time frame as anywhere between five and twenty years depending on the church’s life stage and context.

Will Mancini, God Dreams

A NEXT STEP

The horizons described above are extensions of the way your eyes naturally work.

Right now think of at least one foreground, or short-term strategic horizon for your church. Something within the next 60-90 days.

Now list one big thing you hope to accomplish in the next year.

Finally, what is a big project, idea or task that you know will need to be tackled in the next few years of your leadership?

Rate the connectedness and continuity between these strategic initiatives. Bring the team together and ask, what could be done to bring these three natural horizons of visionary planning into alignment?

 


More energy. Greater resources. Better synergy. Would you like to have that right now at your church? Would you have guessed that the first step toward these improvements is defining your specific vision as a church?

If you don’t have a clear vision, you certainly won’t have a culture that matches. And if you don’t have a strong culture, then what are people in your church really doing?

Why are they there?

Taken from SUMS Remix 32-2, published January 2016


This is part of a weekly series posting content from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders. SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; and each solution is taken from a different book. As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

> Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

God Dreams Book Releases in 2 Days; Free Chapter Now Available

For Vision Room readers I wanted to make sure you got your hands on the free stuff as it roll out with God Dreams.

Download the FREE Chapter 1 from God Dreams.

God Dreams is not only a continuation of my work in Church Unique, but the debut of a Visionary Planning model that has been 15 years in the making. I am not sure if I will ever be this excited about a tool for church leaders. What makes God Dreams so unique and useful?

Here are a few reasons:

1) God Dreams will show you in a new way, why vision is deeply important for your life and ministry.

2) God Dreams will help you diagnose two pitfalls as a visionary: generic vision and obsessing with the present. Of course it will unpack why “thinking long” is critical. And I will show you how to blow-up the generic, all too common, blah-blah-blah vision that plagues our minds and our “about us” church web pages.

3) God Dreams provides a new master tool that “snaps into” the Vision Frame of Church Unique. The master tool is called the Horizon Storyline. You are going love this tool, and its five key features that make your visionary plan sticky and shareable.

4) God Dreams gives you templates to accelerate your team dialogue. Long-range vision is tough. It’s hard to get teams on the same page.  These 12 vision templates will bring new clarity to your team within hours. Before long you will be inspiring the masses with new skill and content!

5) God Dreams will help your inspirational and creative team members lock arms with your detailed and operational team members. Yes, it’s like heaven when it happens. More stuff gets done.

6) Most importantly God Dreams will help you experience greater freedom, confidence and progress for your life in ministry. You already have more busyness; now pursue more freedom  knowing that you are focused precisely on what God wants you to do.

What kind of dramatic impact will your church have in your lifetime? Don’t go into 2016 with this question unanswered.  It’s time to discern it and proclaim it for God’s glory!

> Download the FREE Chapter 1 from God Dreams.

I hope you enjoy the free chapter. Stay tuned for offer free stuff and incentives for your help in spreading the word about God Dreams.

Read more from Will.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Vision >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree 100%, you can tell if a church is doing this it grows, if there's no growth there's poor leadership..
 
— Dennis Whiterock
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Great work Bubba! Its exciting to see how God has blessed your faithfulness over your lifetime into remarkable, fruitful, Kingdom expansion! Jesus DID say, "without Me you can do nothing!" (John 15:5). No surprise that He rewards "thick and thin" prayer with great fruitfulness! :)
 
— Mike Taylor
 
comment_post_ID); ?> I loved this presentation. It helped greatly as I organized an Outreach Ministry of The Shepherds Care. Thank you. Esther Callaham Mahgoube Emmanuel Pentecostal Church New Jersey
 
— Esther Mahgoube
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.