A vision is the comprehensive statement that tells the leaders of the organization what direction they should move, and what they should accomplish so they can motivate the people under them. The church should be and strive toward a preferred future, not just to a dream!
People often ask if the vision comes first or if the purpose of the church is determined and the vision honed from it. Both can, and should be done. With the above precepts in mind, can you say in a sentence or two to what God is calling you, or at least the direction He has for you? If so, great! That may be your vision. If not, great too, because then you have to take your blank idea or your fined tuned idea though this process to see if it is just and true. Take those thoughts and go through the process to hone and confirm or to change and rethink until you are certain you are going in the right God-directed path! As leaders, you must be firmly convinced before you can sell it to others!The Vision takes the purpose and mission of the church and refines it to a simple statement that acts as a guide or slogan for your church. During the Reformation, there were several key phrases that were, and still are Visions such as "Grace Alone," "Scriptures Alone," "Christ Alone," and "Glory to God Alone." Churches today need more than just a word or two. Those words of the Reformation did not stand by themselves; they hooked together as an all-encompassing phrase that captured the richer, fuller meaning they represented. Then they galvanized and motivated the people in the proper direction for the church to go. Vision gives the motivation and the momentum for the equipping ministry of the church. Vision is essential, not because of its captivating aspects, but for what those aspects do, which is to motivate and direct. Then people can be headed in the right direction for God's glory and purpose. Why is this is necessary and essential? Because, if you are planning to lead a church, you must know the direction in which you are going!
Ideas in writing your Vision:
·Read Nehemiah 1:11; 2:1-18; 4:1-8; 6:15-16! Notice how Nehemiah's Vision begins, develops, includes, and then how it involves others for clarification and confirmation! How does Nehemiah's Vision compare with yours? What do you need to work on?
·Make sure you have a good grasp on the precepts and principles of Scripture.
·A Vision cannot be written from your will, but only from His! The Vision must be God's!
·Remember sin, and our sinful nature and that Salvation is solely by what Christ did on the cross!
·The Vision needs to be simple, yet concise, and fewer than 100 words, so it can be remembered and followed!
·Vision propels us to move where God is taking us.
·Do your homework. Observe, diagnose, ask good questions, know your church, and know where God wants you through studying His Word. This is an exhausting process! Your Vision needs to be well researched, thought through, and prayed about. You may not be able to finish it at a retreat; it may take months!
·Vision is a realization of and a reaction to the working of God!
·Vision requires us to stretch, learn, and change, and even more stretch by the church to learn new skills and to do things out of their comfort zone.
·Vision requires you to be a risk taker and have more faith! You may receive criticism from other well meaning Christians, leaders, and denominational officials. Listen and educate them on the Biblical precepts and your process.
·Do not just copy your Vision from another church. You, the leaders, and then the church must go through the honing process. The Vision must fit your church and neighbourhood. This makes every Vision unique in character, even though the words and principles may be similar.
·Churches that are being planted or are stagnant and need revitalizing must have a new Vision to take them to a new season.
·One of the top 10 healthy and influential churches in the world, that sends more missionaries (over 200, not including short term and part timers) than most denominations, has this simple Vision: "We are followers of Jesus Christ, ministers together, empowered by the Holy Spirit and guided by God's Word." And their value statement is, "We are committed to honoring God through worship and personal lifestyle, caring for one another, equipping one another for ministry and communicating God's love to the world." This church (Lake Avenue Church, Pasadena, Ca) has over 6,000 members and 35 pastors following this simple decree! Remember simplicity; do not make your Vision or purpose so complicated that people cannot follow it even though it may be great stuff!
Casting that Vision:
·Casting means to empowering your congregation to accept it, live it, and serve in it!
·Preach on the passage of the Vision with power and conviction; have people give testimonies in the service on what their program or neighbourhood could look like. At the same time, do not let the Vision consume your church. Keep the focus on the care and love for the people.
·For a Vision to work, it has to be "owned" by the congregation. This is accomplished by educating them on God's call through Scripture, your process, prayer, patience, and encouragement. Have your leaders in on the process as much as possible so they can do the field work/grass roots influencing and modelling of it, and positively present it in person, in classes, and in the services.
·Having as many people as possible contribute to the Vision process will enable the congregation in conceiving and shaping the vision. Even though it may come solely from the pastor, people need to feel it is theirs too! The input of others will help you focus, and consider the various options and needs!
·Make sure you write it out short, clear, and in vivid language so someone who has never seen it will understand it. Have people outside your church look it over for clarity. If a stranger who does not know you or your church can understand and run with it, you may have a winner!
Troubleshooting (when people resist or do not like the plans)
·What are the factors that are in your church that can inhibit the Vision? Are there power plays, political agendas, the old guard, popularity of the previous pastor/ leader, poor Biblical knowledge…? How can you solve these issues?
·What church traditions and programs should you maintain? Which should you get rid of? How will you go about it without upset? Remember, listing of and educating about the call and Biblical precepts will be your biggest ally, accompanied by prayer!
·The fear of change and the unknown can be very powerful. People will fight to hold on, and fight to let go.
·Did you inspire and motivate others to follow you?
·Build coalitions but not sides!
·Apathy and complacency will be your biggest foes!
·Make sure people feel they are a part of the process! A vision cannot just pop out of a pastor's office on Monday and be active on Sunday!
·Are you and the leaders perceived as modelling the Vision for others? You have to walk the walk, not just talk the talk!
·A lot of churches have done their Vision process incorrectly, or poorly, or have it on their wall but not on their hands and feet. You may have members who came from those churches. They, too, need to be reassured!
·Settle any ongoing conflicts quickly and completely. New changes will only temporarily halt the strife, and if not taken care of, it will rise up again!
·How did you challenge the system? Did you ask the right questions without causing additional unneeded conflict? If not, you need to go to people and apologize for not listening all the way, then listen and be able to answer feedback positively.
·Do not over sell it. Allow people to process the new Vision or any change you may make! Allow them to see what you see; the big picture is of a better future and church! Spend the time in listening, building relationships, and trust, especially if the pastor or the leadership is new! Reassure them, it is not as bad as it seems; we can be better!
·Do not overwork your leadership or cause your people to "burn out." Take your time, and do not rush through change. What can be rushed through in six months will not be as impacting as a process spanning over two years! Each congregation is different. Some can handle, and even desire fast change, but most will not!
·Prayer, and the atmosphere that goes with it, are the key to balancing problems and mindsets. Build you methods and strategies with Spiritual power! Teach your leaders, and then your congregation what it means to have extraordinary prayer, how to do it, and how to live it!
·Did you take time to encourage, recognize, reward, and celebrate your leaders and congregation?
How God Tends To Lead Today:
1.God leads through the precepts and principles of His Word! (Psalm 119, emphasis on vs. 66 & 105). Precepts are statements that are imperatives, such as commands, (Mark 12:28-31) and passages that are clearly His Will (Gal. 5). Principles are general concepts in context such as character that requires us to make a determination. Think through how to apply them through prayer, wisdom, decrement, growth, and maturity (Sermon on the Mount).
2.God leads us through the power and prompting of the Holy Spirit. This will never countermand the Bible! Through our walk with Christ by His Word, prayer, devotions, disciplines, and the teaching of others, we will receive prompting to move us in a certain direction (Psalm 32:8; Philippians 2:12-14).
3.God leads us through wise counsel of others. This too will never countermand Scripture, or the Spirit's leading. It will test us to make sure we hear the Spirit correctly, and are on the right tract (Proverbs 15:22; 27:9; 1 Timothy 5). We are to pray and think through issues, considering all options in making a decision. Make sure the people to whom you are listening are walking in His way (Chronicles 25:16; Psalm 1:1)!
© 1986, 1988, 1998, Richard J. Krejcir, Ph.D. Schaeffer Institute of Church Leadership, www.churchleadership.org