The big idea of Innovating Discipleship is a simple whiteboard drawing. My hope is that it will help you achieve your wildest dreams for the mission of Jesus in the world…As we jump into INNOVATING DISCIPLESHIP we will be working from a simple whiteboard drawing-one tool to equip you as God’s co-creator. After all, he designed you to help design a better future.

– Will Mancini


One whiteboard drawing

defined by

two vision decisions


four paths to the future

that provide

sixteen super-questions


limitless ministry innovation


18907299._UY475_SS475_I first read Innovating Discipleship by Will Mancini in 2013 shortly after it was released. The book helped me think through some big picture questions to take steps toward the results we desired. Now recently I revisited and re-read this book to continue to challenge my paradigms and assumptions about where we are and where we are heading.

If you are a ministry leader looking to move beyond the cycle of same thing, same way then I encourage you to read this book and talk through these concepts with your team to decide the pathway that is best for your church in moving forward.

Chapter 1- Finding Your Vision Switch

In this Chapter Mancini explores answers to the question “How do you want your church to be different two years from now.” The typical answers most leaders give him points toward a desire for MORE OF THE SAME. He states,

We don’t naturally look for fundamentally new, different, or better results, but more of the same of what we commonly measure….So the hidden vision switch reveals two default mindsets in most conversations about church:

  • Default Mindset #1: More attendance is our primary desired result.
  • Default Mindset #2: Our ministry model doesn’t need to change.

Chapter 2: Scoreboard 101- Three Kinds of Results

Decision #1: Is our vision to have more of the same results or some new result?

Any result you can desire for you church will fit into three broad categories-input results, output results, and impact results.

  • Input RScreen-Shot-2011-10-19-at-10.09.52-PMesults– input results in the church would focus on the number of people and dollars that “come into” the church. 

  • Output Results– output results refer to actual life-change outcomes that God intends for followers of Christ individually and together. Example of output results include the quality of a believers prayer life, the skillfulness in sharing the gospel, or the development of patience as one of the fruits of the Spirit.

Three passages in the Bible are noteworthy to bring clarity, direction, and specificity to understanding output results: Matthew 22:37 (Great Commandment); Matthew 28:18-20 (Great Commission); & Galatians 5:22 (fruits of the Spirit).

  • Impact Results- impact results capture the broader effect of the church in the surrounding city or community.

Chapter 3: ROI or IRO?

Despite the importance of input results, they do not provide a necessarily positive indicator of mission achievement. More attendance and more giving don’t necessarily mean more and stronger disciples. ROI- Return On Investment or IRO-Input Results Only. Scripture reveals a God who expects a return on investment. But experience shows that too many leaders are satisfied with input results only.

Chapter 4: Barriers to Ministry Design

Vision Decision #2: Is it better to use our existing model or to introduce a change?

The three things that keep ministry leaders from practicing ministry design is three mindset issues or as Peter M Senge would call mental models:

  1. Category complexity- The many various sources of categories that influence us
  2. Program lock- mental inability to see a different way of doing ministry because someone else made all of the design decisions in advance.
  3. 2nd generation passion- When a leader copies another ministry model, the emotional connection to the problem it solved doesn’t automatically come with it.

Chapter 5: Three Approaches to Church Strategy

These are either:

  • More is more
  • Less is more
  • To be is more

Chapter 6: Four Paths to the Future

Four paths to better discipleship begin to emerge from this:

  1. On the first path we MAXIMIZE the same model for the same results
  2. On the second path we ADAPT the existing model for the same results
  3. On the third path we INFUSE new results into an existing model
  4. On the fourth path we CREATE new results with a new model

For visual learners this chart may be more helpful in seeing how these paths relate.


Chapter 7: Path #2- Innovation as Adapting

Adapt will enable you to enhance, accelerate, expand, and extend the results you are currently getting by making tweaks and modifications to your ministry model.

Four questions of Adapting are:

  1. How might we adapt-action our existing model to enhance our existing results
  2. How might we adapt-action our existing model to accelerate our existing results?
  3. How might we adapt-action our existing model to expand our existing results?
  4. How might we adapt-action our existing model to extend our existing results?

Chapter 8: Path #3- Innovation as Infusion

When you are going after new discipleship results and you want to operate within the same basic ministry model, it’s time to INFUSE. Your church will activate, align, repurpose, or remix in order to follow the INFUSE path.

Four questions of Infusion:

  1. How might we activate a totally new result in one part of our existing model?
  2. How might we align everything in our existing model toward a single new result?
  3. How might we repurpose one or more of the parts of our existing model for a new result?
  4. What could be remixed (combined and co-mingled) in our existing model that would enable a new result?

Chapter 9: Path #4- Innovation as Creation

If you want to take the CREATE path use these four create super-questions:

  1. How can we generate a new output (discipleship) result with our existing people with a new model?
  2. What new group of people can we penetrate for the gospel that our existing model has never reached?
  3. If we were forced to experiment with a new ministry based on a problem, a prompting or new possibility what would we incubate?
  4. If the ability to multiply disciples, leaders, groups, campuses,  or churches was not built into our existing model, how do we redesign it?

Chapter 10: Essentials to Limitless Innovation

Skills not mentioned so far that is in this Chapter are in these four areas:

  1. Clarity
  2. Margin
  3. Heart
  4. Team

If you are a ministry leader looking to move beyond the cycle of same thing, same way then I encourage you to read this book and talk through these concepts with your team to decide the pathway that is best for your church in moving forward.