Do you have vision issues?
I don’t mean the kind that makes you reach for your glasses or call the optometrist. I’m talking about the confusion and anxiety many church leaders experience when words such as vision, mission, and values get tossed around. They are important concepts that need clear definitions.
We are going to spend our first few posts establishing good working definitions for these common concepts. We use them in our work with churches but have simplified the definitions to create clarity and lower anxiety.
First, let’s take a look at the concept of vision in the local church. Often, mission and vision become interchangeable in a church’s language. They are actually quite distinct and each serves a specific purpose. In simple terms, vision is the future reality created from a well-executed mission. (We’ll deal with the definition of mission in a near-term, future post.) Vision should be clear, tangible, and expressed in as much concrete detail as possible. It is the future we believe God will unfold for our ministry as we follow Him in calling.
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At IC, we believe the anxiety often comes when the development of your ministry’s vision becomes more complicated than it needs to be. We’ve found that senior leaders feel a special, and sometimes debilitating, pressure to create and communicate clear vision. To simplify this, we ask church leaders and teams to answer a few simple questions in advance of our time together. Here is a framework of questions that can help to clarify your vision.
In five years…
- How big is your church? Describe it in any terms you wish.
- How are you measuring success?
- What is your most important ministry? Describe its impact.
- What does your weekend experience look like?
- How many people are attending your church?
- Describe the makeup of your church family.
- How do other describe your church?
- What are you known for in your church and in your community?
- Write your “I have a dream…” speech about your church.
So, take a deep breath. Get in a quiet place. And prayerfully ask God to give you big but believable answers to these questions and descriptions. You will be surprised how quickly a vision of your future church will come together. And for a very robust team conversation, invite them into the mix as well!