A Practical Guide to Powerful Vision

Vision is as simple as standing in the future and seeing what it should look like. Like a rubber band, your vision should create tension on today to pull you toward your preferred future tomorrow. Too little tension and nothing happens. Too much tension and something snaps.

In working with churches, we have found that a 5-year double vision puts the right amount of tension on today for the greatest impact tomorrow. A 5-year vision informs action for the next season’s work. The process of framing vision is like a muscle and gets better with exercise. How much tension is in your vision? Is your vision stretching your church to reach its full Gospel potential?

At IC, we long to unlock the Gospel potential in every church.  As we begin our work together to install the Intentional GrowthPlan system in a church, we ask the team to stand in the future, to throw off all constraints and imagine how their church looks five years from now. We encourage the team to dream. We ask, “What kind of impact would your church have if you had no limitations? No facility maximum, no financial woes, no leadership void, unlimited resources.  What kind of difference could your church make in eternity if you were focused on the right stuff at the right time, had the resources to respond to opportunities and nothing could stop you?”  It is through this stretching process that we help frame vision in a church.

Vision is first born from seeking and listening to God. A Gospel-centered, God-given vision has power like no other. It brings alignment, convicts, inspires, motivates and energizes.  When a church team is involved in dreaming, developing and stretching the vision, the result is a deeper conviction to create a plan that makes that vision a reality.

Seeing Triple

We believe every church should have three types of vision:

  1. Institutional Vision
  2. Impact Vision
  3. Individual Vision

This thinking may be outside the box for you as a leader, but hang on. Developing a Gospel-centered vision for the future in these three specific areas can have exponential impact in your church, in your community, and ultimately, in eternity.

Institutional Vision

The first and most important vision is an Institutional Vision, an overall vision for your church. As a church leader, your vision has to be clear and compelling and it’s most critical that your team ‘gets it’ first!  When we work with a church team, we ask them to visualize and answer questions such as, “What does your church look like in five years?  How many people have come to Christ? Are you in a facility?  What is different? How have you grown? What are Groups like?  Are people inviting and sharing Christ with others?” Everyone participates in this dream session and we take time to list every answer. We’ve tripled our attendance.  We’ve grown and relocated. We’re creating more and better disciples. We’ve baptized 500 people. Eighty percent of our people are in LifeGroups.

No matter the size of the church, whether 100 or 10,000, when vision is cast well, there is a significant level-up in three – five years. An Intentional GrowthPlan system helps a church team identify what drives performance in these potential areas of growth and actually create a plan to get there.

Impact Vision

The second type of vision is Impact Vision.  Impact vision is what moves your church beyond its walls to make a difference.  Again, the team considers what could be, “Think about your community right now.  Describe the schools, the families, the culture. Now imagine what your community looks like in five years. How is the community different? What kind of impact has your church had?  What resources are helping others share Christ in the community?  Is your church known? What kind of global influence does your church have?”

Just a caution: The Impact Vision serves the Institutional Vision, not the other way around. In today’s culture, having an impact is the celebrated goal, the end in itself.  But sharing the Gospel is Christ’s directive, making more and better disciples is our goal. When we are making disciples, impact flows into the community through our people. We garner permission to serve, to improve our schools, to influence our kids, to build relational bridges in our community or to dig 1000 wells in Africa, etc., all in Jesus’ name.

Individual Vision

The third type of church vision is an Individual Vision.  As a result of discipleship in your church, the lives of individuals should be different.  Are we casting vision to the individual? Imagine the awe when an individual realizes their role in Kingdom impact. When we discuss with the team, we ask, “How do we want an individual from our church to look in five years?  How is their life different?  How is their marriage different?  How are their kids’ lives different?” Whether a seasoned disciple or your Primary Newcomer, the individual’s behavior should have leveled up in five years because of your transformative vision and their involvement in Christ’s church.

In Luke 15, the lost chapter, the shepherd loses one of 100 sheep and leaves the 99 to go find it. In today’s culture, the difference between the one and the 99 can be fuzzy. The 99 may profess Christ, attend church more often, they may have grown up learning scripture, but at the end of the day, are they more impacted by media and culture than the church? Many individuals who profess Christ deny Him daily in their behavior. As church leaders with an individual vision, we desire our people to be more like Christ.  They should be better spouses, employees, leaders, able to share Christ with others. There should be a relative level-up in their personal life, physical life, spiritual life, family life, in their vocation, their church and community involvement.

Last year we worked with Salty Church, a multisite church with three campuses on the east coast of Florida. We spent time dreaming with them, imagining what their church could look like in five years. Here’s a small snippet of their five-year Vision:  

It’s 2021 and Salty is running 2800 over six campuses!  The vision to start new campuses up and down the coast has come to fruition and we have moved beyond our borders to partner with new churches around the world. We have walked to the Atlantic hundreds of times baptizing over 1000 new believers into Christ.  We have expanded our facility and the growth is palpable. Our Invitation Culture is irresistible and has even newcomers bringing guests.  Our Engagement Pathway is crystal clear at all campuses and consistently moving people toward their next step with Christ. Groups have exploded due to clear on-ramps presented through intentional LifeGroup efforts, growing more disciples and leaders of disciples. Salty flourishes with stories of real life change, and because of the generosity of our people, the community is known to say, “Call Salty, they will help with that!”  Salty Family Services has helped over 300 families in five years. Our mission focus is making more and better disciples, engaging people and reproducing leaders.

Reaching this type of full Gospel potential requires more than faith and hard work. It requires an intentional, unwavering commitment to a Gospel-centered vision with a relentless conviction to reach others for Christ, to fulfill the Great Commission. Be intentional about your calling and about your vision. Don’t run the race aimlessly, lest you run in vain.


Doug Parks

About Doug Parks

Doug served for seventeen years as the Executive Pastor at Canyon Ridge Christian Church in Las Vegas, NV. Over the last several years, Doug has been helping churches throughout the country develop a plan to grow and a prioritized way to execute the plan.

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