My first degree, industrial engineering, taught me to think systematically which has in turn benefited my pastoral leadership. Since then I’ve read many books on church planning and been certified through Ministry Advantage and Auxano, two strategic planning/pastoral coaching organizations. I’ve also led two churches where I’ve served through a year-long strategic planning process. So, I’m well-versed and trained in the church visioning/planning process. Yet, of all the books I’ve read on strategic planning, Will Mancini’s book, Church Unique is the best. In his chapter called “Lost on the Way to Your Own DNA,” he lists subtle thinking patterns that can hinder church growth. He calls these patterns ‘thinkholes.’ I’ve listed them here with brief definitions.
- The ministry treadmill: busyness eliminates time for reflection.
- leads to just adding more programs
- The competency trap: presumption that past methods will continue to work decreases appetite for learning.
- leads to just working harder
- The needs based slippery slope: consumerism removes the need for discernment.
- leads to trying to make people happy
- The cultural whirlpool 1: BuzzChurch-innovation short circuits self-awareness.
- leads to just trying to be cutting edge
- The cultural whirlpool 2: StuckChurch-change outpaces the discipline for learning.
- leads to glorifying the past
- The conference maze: success increases the temptation to copycat.
- leads to simply modeling best practices
- The denominational rut: resources disregard local uniqueness.
- leads to just protecting theology
At times I’ve been caught up in these thinkholes. How about you?
What other thinkholes would you add to this list?