By Kay Harms
Ten Arizona Southern Baptist churches completed the six-week Auxano Church Unique Vision co::Lab process this spring, propelling them to reconsider their unique attributes and missions in their locations.
Pastors from the participating churches brought up to three other church leaders with them to the six co::Lab monthly meetings, which were hosted by the Arizona Southern Baptist Convention’s Church Life Team at Foothills Baptist Church, Ahwatukee. Auxano facilitator Mike Gammill led the delegations through a chain of steps to help their churches discover their uniqueness, determine an appropriate vision model and align their structure and ministries within the new model.
“The co::Lab is really a trainer process that equips the pastor and a few other leaders to work through vision framing exercises, and they in turn lead their vision teams at their churches through these exercises,” clarified Keith Henry, AZSBC ministry leadership facilitator. “So decisions presented to the church are not instigated by just the people who attended the co::Lab, but by the church’s vision team.”
Each month, the pastors and church leaders took their newly acquired knowledge and vision framing skills back to their congregations so the real work could begin.
“Auxano co::Lab is like watching a 3-D movie,” said Keith Durham, pastor of First Baptist, Arizona City. “It brings your church’s mission and vision to life in a way you didn’t think possible. Our church has fully embraced the process of discovering our uniqueness and has discovered greater clarity and direction.”
Nate Millican, lead pastor at Foothills, Ahwatukee, noted that the process is challenging, time-consuming and even disruptive, but worth all of that on a few conditions.
“I would wholeheartedly recommend the Auxano co::Lab if the senior pastor is on board, the team realizes the work involved and is committed to it and the church can put together a team that genuinely loves their staff and church,” said Millican. “But the church really has to have a posture of humility and a perspective that says, ‘Let’s do what we need to do to engage lost people, even if that means making significant changes.’”
Because feedback has been positive from the AZSBC churches that have completed the co::Lab process, the Church Life Team plans to continue offering churches services in vision clarity. But, according to Henry, those opportunities may change a little because of recent developments.
“In May, Eddy Pearson, Keith Durham, Josue Castro [AZSBC Hispanic Ministries Facilitator] and myself were trained to facilitate the Auxano co::Labs,” reported Henry. “Now, we will be able to offer additional labs, perhaps in different areas of the state, as well as individual consultations.”