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The Power of Visual Thinking Applied to Church Leadership

When I started Auxano with a few other leaders we really started two ministries. Auxano was started to navigate leaders through growth challenges with vision clarity. Auxano Creative was started to communicate vision visually. We have worked hard to keep Auxano Creative “under the radar” so that people wouldn’t put Auxano in the “marketing only” category.

In 2011, we plan on making Auxano Creative more visible in order to help more ministries understand the power of visual thinking. Most church leaders still don’t get the significance of using design and image as a leadership tool. It is useful on at least three levels:

  1. Branding as the art and discipline of  communicating the vision of a ministry visually
  2. Helping people understand and apply aspects of the vision like strategy and values
  3. Solving problems

Here are a few thoughts on each of these three:


In the coming months, I will be posting design work from Auxano Creative. Our team, over the last ten years, has done more brand development for churches and ministries than any group I know. Starting with name and logo, everything your ministry designs is an opportunity to reflect and reinforce it’s identity and direction visually. 


Ten years ago, our team pioneered the inclusion of a “strategy icon” in the brand development process for ministries. This aspect of your Vision Frame is the most important to communicate visually. That’s why in Church Unique we refer to this as a  ”missional map.” To read more and see illustrations of this, check our Cheryl Marting’s post “To Implement, Communicate”.  Cheryl is the leader of Auxano Creative.

In addition to visualizing strategy, you may find ways to anchor values for the minds eye. Take for example the values of Rob Bell’s Mars Hill. They use the six circles of their logo and a simple design with arrows to unpack their values as Mars Hill “Directions.” Earlier this year we shared a story of Westport Church that used paintings to convey their values to people walk in the their worship space. 


The most powerful illustration of visual problem solving that I know, is this explanation of the Health Care Debate in pictures by Dan Roam. In addition here is the link of the article referenced in the title of this blog post by Wired Magazine, The Power of Visual Thinking, by Clive Thompson.

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Will Mancini emerged from the trenches of local church leadership to found Auxano, a first-of-kind consulting ministry that focuses on vision clarity. As a “clarity evangelist,” Will has served as vision architect for hundreds of churches across the country, including such notable pastors as Chuck Swindoll and Max Lucado. Will holds a Th.M. in Pastoral Leadership from Dallas Theological Seminary and has authored Church Unique: How Missional Leaders Cast Vision, Capture Culture and Create Movement; he also co-authored Building Leaders with Aubrey Malphurs.