Emerging from the panic of 2020 and the life patterns of 2021, we now face substantial complexities in shaping, communicating, and realizing vision.
There are at least three challenges we face:
Challenge #1 – We are relearning how current culture views the church.
Over the past twenty years or more church has moved from a central institution in the community to an option. Today, for an increasing number, the physical gathering and engagement in church (the body of Christ) is moving from an option to something no longer seen as necessary.
Challenge #2 – Church leaders are less prone to take risks.
There are clear pitfalls to playing it safe, yet prudence compels us to have some sense of caution when the future remains unclear. Nonetheless, vision is still required, and all real forward-moving vision has risk. What do you risk? What do you protect?
Challenge #3 – Isolation has elevated individualism that seeks its own way.
Vision is designed to be achieved together; the impact is far greater that way. We can do far more together than alone. When human beings drawback from community, especially from fear, their thinking changes from “what we could accomplish together” to “what must I do to survive.” That’s not true for everyone, of course, but the shift is evident.
No matter what we are experiencing, vision remains at the very core of leadership and, when done well, produces the momentum every leader prays for.
The bottom line is that together we must rise above obstacles and cast vision for the future.
5 truths that define a strong vision:
1) Vision serves as the spiritual catalyst.
When you are working with one person, you (the leader) serve as the spiritual catalyst. When you lead many people, the vision becomes the catalyst.
Here’s how the leader and the vision work together.
- The leader as a catalyst brings intentional focus, clarity, and inspiration to a specified purpose that results in positive change and a better future.
- The vision as a catalyst brings a unifying challenge in a specific direction in order to achieve something greater together than anyone could on their own.
Vision is a powerful tool to grow God’s people.
While every vision carries unique expressions, ultimately, it is to see people’s lives changed through faith in Christ.
As Christians carry the love and grace of Christ to those, who are unresolved in spiritual matters, the body of Christ continues to increase in size and strength.
2) Vision creates fuel for ministry.
Vision puts wind in the sails of otherwise potentially complacent people. This doesn’t mean the people don’t care, but that they need someone to see what they can’t see and point the way.
The work of ministry is exhausting, and it takes massive amounts of energy from so many people to make it happen. Vision keeps it going.
Without vision, the people and especially the volunteers, will run out of gas.
And remember vision leaks.
It’s vital that you continually talk about it, communicate the progress, and tell stories of life change.
Without vision, ministry is like running in circles, it takes lots of effort and stamina, but you don’t go anywhere.
Vision ignites something in the soul and inspires us to participate. Vision is why people serve year after year with great joy and enthusiasm.
3) Vision inspires sacrificial generosity.
When the vision captivates the people’s hearts, and they see the good that will result, they are inwardly compelled to give generously toward that better future.
I genuinely believe and have experienced for decades that people really do want to be part of something bigger than they are. Something that is good helps people and makes the community a better place.
Yes, isolation has challenged that, but it’s still in human DNA, and it’s up to us as leaders to reignite that passion.
I have also found that when the leaders believe in the vision with great conviction and give generously, even sacrificially, the people are more likely to do so as well.
At times the vision is so compelling that non-Christians are inspired to give, and some even give their hearts to Jesus as a result!
4) Vision focuses leadership energy.
One of my favorite quotes is, “Anyone who chases two rabbits catches neither one.”
A church without a focused vision can be like chasing rabbits. You are running in multiple directions, making quick changes, and coming up empty-handed. You expend a great deal of energy with little results.
A great vision can change that.
A great vision clarifies the direction, narrows the target, and calls for specific results. When it is communicated well, it leaves no room for ambiguity. Everyone knows the goal.
The result of focused energy multiplies the impact.
Several years ago, we shared a vision to improve the spiritual and physical well-being of the poor, restoring their dignity, purpose, and freedom. The tangible aspect was to dig wells for freshwater. The people would no longer need to walk for hours every day to get dirty water. A well in a village not only brings life-giving clean water but also makes room for education, economic development, and church advancement.
Very few people could write a check to dig and install one well, but together we did more than 59 wells or access points to freshwater.
That’s the power of focused energy within a vision.
5) Vision generates forward motion and progress.
A central aspect of a great vision is that it generates forward motion. It creates momentum.
The local church is a highly relational organization. That’s great for heart connection and care for the people but not as much for visionary progress. Progress requires intentionality toward an intended outcome.
Vision is always required to move a small group of people forward. In fact, I think vision is required no matter the size of the group.
Consider a church plant; the leader starts with a vision, not a crowd of people.
Vision is what gets a new church plant up and running. The vision creates momentum that generates forward motion. That creates excitement and energy that draws the people.
How’s your vision today?