By Kay Harms

Seventeen Arizona Southern Baptist churches are currently sending teams through multi-level training with Auxano, a nonprofit church consulting firm that focuses on vision clarity and visionary planning. (Auxano is a Greek word meaning “to grow.”)

The element that makes these two training opportunities unique, according to AZSBC Church Life Facilitator Keith Henry, is that they are co::labs.

“Co::labs are a great training tool because they facilitate teams from the churches — usually made up of the pastor and up to three other staff or lay leaders — that work through the training process in a way that is unique to their churches,” said Henry. “And then they take what they’ve learned back to their churches and either facilitate more discussion or implement it in a way that is tailored to their churches’ dynamics.”

Mountain View Baptist Church, Tucson, has been hosting the Auxano Church Unique Vision Co::Lab for five additional churches since September. This co::lab, facilitated by Henry, AZSBC facilitators Eddy Pearson and Keith Durham, equips leadership teams to walk their churches through the process of determining their congregations’ unique visions for ministering in their unique settings.

According to Henry, the teams proceed through five steps over the multi-month process and take those same building blocks back to their own larger vision teams for discussion and implementation. The steps include rethinking obstacles inhibiting the church’s ministry, uncovering what the church does best, creating a vision frame of essentials, constructing the vision proper for looking toward the future and finally integrating the new and unique vision into the church.

The Church Life Team has offered Church Unique Vision Co::Labs before, but this is the first time the co::lab has been offered in Tucson. Due to positive results, the team plans to offer another Church Unique Vision Co::Lab that will begin in the fall, probably in the Phoenix area.

For the first time, 11 AZSBC churches are benefiting from Auxano’s Leadership Pipeline Co::Lab. Taught by the creator of the lab, Mac Lake, this co::lab helps churches discover the path by which they will develop and sustain leaders as they fulfill their vision.

“Many churches, if not most, struggle to have enough leaders,” said Henry. “And many struggle to develop the leaders they do have. This unique co::lab helps the current leaders determine how they will seek out and develop leaders in the strategy that best fits their churches.”

Perhaps, then, it is no surprise that nine of the 11 leadership teams proceeding through the Leadership Pipeline Co::Lab are pastors and leaders from church plants. Additionally, this co::lab offers these leaders the convenience of meeting at the host church, Mountain Ridge in Glendale, just three times from January through June. The other sessions are conducted through a live video conferencing system.

The Church Life Team will determine whether or not it will offer future Leadership Pipeline Co::Labs based on results and feedback from participants. For additional information about either co::lab, contact Keith Henry at keith@azsbc.org or Eddy Pearson at eddy@azsbc.org.