About the Author, Will Mancini

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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 revitalizations and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com. He is the also co-author of Building Leaders (Baker Books).

His education includes a ThM in Pastoral Leadership from Dallas Theological Seminary and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Penn State.  Will resides in Houston, Texas where his favorite diversions are mountain biking and playing Halo with his three kids and his wife, Romina.

E-mail Will or book an event at will@auxano.com


An interview with Leadership Network

Why did you write this book?

This book is a wind gust from a great storm in my life. Ten years ago, God took me on an 18-month journey that changed me.  In short, I experimented with a shift from pastoring to coaching pastors.  As God opened doors from church to church across the country, I was absolutely stunned by the “clarity vacuum” in the heart of the local church and even in our “best” churches.  For example, I can remember Chuck Swindoll, the master expositor, leaning forward with pen in hand and asking me to repeat again, the difference between mission and vision.  The jargon of vision is common, but the practice of visionary leadership is not.

What was the genesis of the ideas?

At that time, I felt compelled to design a process that would more effectively help leaders “get” vision. My idea was in stark contrast to practices we have been accustomed to in the world of church, such as outdated strategic planning methods, or the glut of conference offerings to name a few. As Auxano’s “Vision Pathway” process took wings and exposure began to snowball, more and more leaders kept requesting a book on the subject. I guess I got tired of saying, “There isn’t one” – and now it’s here.

What are one or two “lessons learned” about your topic that you would want to pass on to readers?

The first lesson is that we need to radically “recast” our view of vision because we’ve been inadvertently misled in a foundational way.  My rallying cry is to recapture vision as a visionary lifestyle–as a team sport that is practiced each day. Today when most church leaders think of vision, they refer either to a “statement” (a lofty one-liner or an eloquent page dump) or to a leadership style that mimics attention deficit disorder (visionary is our term to feel OK about the unbridled creativity of the point leader).  The problem is that there is nothing inherently visionary about a static document or lack of focus in the organization.

The second lesson is critically important but not very sexy.  It is the idea that leaders need to better integrate vision in a cultural and church context where fragmentation is the norm.  I believe leaders need a new set of skills and tools in order to align and attune the local movement of the local church.

What is new about what you have to say in this book?

One new contribution is the fusion of visionary leadership and missional church. Fabulous mentors on vision have blessed me, many of whom write from the builder generation or older boomer mindset.  For them “vision” was a subject bound to the assumptions of the church growth movement.  One great fear I have is that younger missional leaders would throw out the baby with the bathwater when it comes to “vision.”  Church Unique establishes visionary practice in a way that transcends “church growth” and re-interprets the elements of vision around a missional reorientation.

Who is the book for and why should they read it?

The book is for any leader at any level of kingdom pursuit.  They should read it if they want to better understand, articulate, and release what God is up to in and through the Church broadly, and their church locally.

What are the big surprises in the book?

I hope readers experience a deeper sense of wonder about what God wants to do in and through their church.  Other than that, readers may be surprised at my critique of classic strategic planning.

What do you hope the reader takes away from the book?

While the book will provide new tools and language to guide team conversations, I believe the most important take-away is the increased tenacity to forge a stunningly unique, movement-oriented vision.  In other words, I hope the book becomes an on-ramp to the ongoing process and conviction never to settle for less with missional vision casting.

If church leaders or just normal Christians could begin applying one thing from the ideas or prescribed practices in your book today, what do you hope it would be?

Someone defined genius as the ability to scrutinize the obvious. I would want the reader to take notice of something for the first time about their community while driving home from work.  And then ask the questions, how could this inform what God wants me to do and what does this mean for our redemptive vision?

What is your background?

My primary background for writing the book is my role as a vision coach for church leaders.  I got there from my calling as a pastor in the areas of spiritual formation and leadership development.  Three life experiences mark my work in this primary call.  First, I was a “spiritual mutt” growing up- I had no significant continuity in a denominational heritage.  I resented this for a while, but I now see how God used the exposure to a variety of church cultures to develop an appreciation for the diversity of His kingdom. Second is my training and work as a chemical engineer, which developed my problem solving and process orientation.  Third is my background as an advertising agency executive, which refined how I think about creating intentional communication.

What can we look for next?

I, along with my team at Auxano, are always creating tools and resources for church and ministry leaders – from the Vision Deck, to the Church Unique Visual Summary, to my upcoming book, FLUX, which will be available summer of 2013 on Amazon.com.

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