Tuesday, September 16, 2003

More on Vision

I have heard well known speakers recently indicate that an articulated vision is not as important as many other things with regard to growing a church (or other organization). Other areas of more importance might be community and relationship or personal growth & discipleship. Although I definitely agree that other things are very important and their absence would cripple growth and health I do not believe there is any one thing that cements a group and all of its activities together as well as an articulate vision.

What do I mean by articulate vision? I mean 1.) a vision of the future for the group that each member can put into words... 2.) a vision they can share with others outside of the group... and 3.) a vision that everyone in the group says in essentially the same language.

If the vision is not defined in such a way that it can be easily communicated then the chances of it being miscommunicated are high. I've heard leaders share their vision in so many different ways that the vision often sounded in opposition to previous versions. This isn't really because the vision had changed, more likely because the words used were not rehearsed in such a way as to insure a consistency in the message.

As a church we are nothing without our message. I believe in community and totally agree that it is the life and purpose of the church, but our message is our heartbeat. We must have a message and we must deliver that message. We must teach that message so we can reproduce that message.

I went to a small church in Northwest Arkansas for several years that excelled at this. As simple as it was they always defined themselves as "The Church that Love is Building". I tend to think more elaborately than this but in its simplicity this phrase was not looked upon as a slogan but as a mission. Every member in the church and many nonmembers thoughout the community could tell you what that church was about. As the church grew from a couple of hundred to near 1000 it never changed the filter by which it viewed its mission.

What is your vision for the future? Can you share it? Can you plant it in someone else? John Maxwell says we should paint our picture on the heart of someone else... Not just show them our picture but help them integrate it with their own. Give it language..

Years ago when I was first entering the ministry I asked one of my mentor's how to go about planting a church. His reply... "Tell your story to everyone you meet" Your story is your vision... where are you going? Know how to tell it and teach others to tell it with you.

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