By Irene A. Harkleroad

The purpose of Arizona Southern Baptist churches is the same: to share the gospel and make disciples of all people. How they do it depends on the unique personality of each church.

The Arizona Southern Baptist Convention partners with Auxano, a church consulting company, to offer a way to tailor mission and vision statements specific to individual churches. In August 2015, more than 200 leaders attended Mathetes and heard a day-long presentation of the basic Church Unique Vision co::Lab process developed Auxano.

Ten churches completed a Vision co::Lab in July 2015 and are immersed in the visioning process.

Mountain View Baptist, Tucson

“Three of us attended the Vision co::Lab,” said Pastor Bret Burnett. “It was God’s perfect time to take leaders of this 28-year-old church through the process, to look at our previous mission and vision statements and ask: ‘What have we missed, what do we need to update, and how do we re-vision?'”

Over time, Mountain View experienced “vision creep,” Burnett said. “It’s easy to lose focus when we are busy and everything seems important.”

The vision devlopment process has been helpful, he said.

“We realized that some of our core group have been here a long time and have seen good times and bad, yet they are still faithful leaders,” he said. “This this has been a great opportunity for leadership to work together.”

Wellspring Church, Goodyear

Although Wellspring Church is 18 months old, it is about nine months into the Vision co::Lab process.

“God gives each church a unique DNA,” said Pastor Chris Stull. “Failure to identify that is a tragedy!”

The visioning process “helped us to identify where God had been bringing great strength, resources and some unique things to Wellspring,” he said. “It also allowed us to say ‘no’ to things that don’t appear to part of our DNA.”

Wellspring’s kingdom concept is built around investing in partnerships: in life groups, other churches, community, schools, the military, arts, as well as politics and government.

“We believe every partnership God breathes is part of our mission of connecting to Christ,” said Stull.

“Vision simplifies and clarifies,” he said. “Our staff, core leadership team, and 60-70 percent of the people in our weekly worship can say, ‘I know why Wellspring exists and I know what we are about.'”

Hi-Way Baptist Church, Mesa

“The timing was providential for us,” said Pastor George Barnes. “We are painstakingly working through the process, taking time to be deliberate. Over the next few years we will determine our strategy and measures. True uniqueness is in core values and how you strategically make disciples. This process helped us to boil ours down to a tighter, simpler mission statement and core values.”

Grace Fellowship, Vail

“We are in the middle of developing our ministry framework,” said Pastor Steve Chamblee. “Everything in Vail revolves around the school district. We discovered that the district does a real good job with special needs children. We have an awesome opportunity to minister to these families and have made it a priority. Because it is unique to the community, we decided is should be unique to our church.”

The prcoess has been valuable for Grace Fellowship, he said.

“Vision rallies people,” Chamblee said. “It has generated a lot of energy, movement and passion about ministry now that we know our mission. It has breathed life and energy into our leaders. It is worth the time, effort and resources! It is worth it!”

Ten more churches began the six-month training cycle in October.

For more information about Auxano Vision co::Lab, contact Keith Henry at keitha@azsbc.org or Eddy Pearson at eddy@azsbc.org.