I’ve recently done some fresh thinking on the issue of attaining vision. This will be a 3-4 part post. I should mention that I am grateful for the thinking, writing, and friendship of Dr. Bob Brady – a long-time mentor of mine.
Here’s my equation for the work that needs to be done: Values + Mission = Vision
Values = Abstract qualities that we prize.
Mission = What we are here to do and our unique approach to the enterprise we are in.
A mission statement is text that states the chief activity that the organization wishes to engage in and gives specific guidance on the direction the organization should take in regard to programs, services, and activities. Additionally, the law obligates the trustees/board of the organization to limit their activities to those covered by the mission statement.
Vision = A description of the reality you expect to create; it is the discovery of God’s will for a congregation.
We don’t DECIDE on a vision, we DISCOVER vision through commingling core explicit values with the organizational mission.
Preliminary Thoughts How Vision is Achieved:
• From more sophisticated uses of the imaginative capabilities of our minds to our inner ears seeking to be more attuned to the voice of the Holy Spirit — the path to vision will be discovered. How we have learned to think about ministry in times past will require, of some, extensive relearning in order to cope with the kinds of discontinuity forecast for the future.
• Leaders in every generation have been distinguished as those with ability to see in the mind’s eye what others cannot yet imagine. Can vision be induced? Are there tools, concepts, and practices that can be trusted to help leaders weave the threads of their dreams into the tapestry of tomorrow’s reality? Are these rational tools, with a logic that can be followed? Or, must we wait in a desert without foresight until a burning bush signals a new order? “The future ain’t what it used to be,” and that’s the good news. Much of tomorrow is waiting for someone to invent it.
Some Noteworthy Quotes:
• “Every institution is perfectly positioned to obtain the results it is currently achieving.”
• Leadership: the process of aligning a church to God’s mission and vision.
• The gospel is primarily something to be embodied and proclaimed, rather than a set of beliefs that people assent to intellectually.
• The underlying presupposition is that Jesus Christ is the chief shepherd and vision caster, and that he has a definitive future for every congregation that he is working out. The task of church leaders is to join with him as co-laborers in the realization of his kingdom at a particular place and time with the resources and opportunities he provides.
• If this is true, then it follows that one of the main hindrances to the realization of Christ’s kingdom through a particular congregation is failure to let Christ be the head of his body in that place. This can take several forms:
o Unqualified leaders who are incapable of providing examples of Christlikeness and authentic discipleship.
o Structure/Systems that work against community building and one-another relationships.
o Misuse of resources both financial and the spiritual gifts of the Body.
o Protection of the vested interests of members overshadows the needs of the lost.
o Unresolved conflict that poisons the fellowship.
o Failure to mobilize the power of prayer in seeking God’s will.
• Now, assuming all the above are addressed and corrected as needed, how is a vision discovered by biblical leaders who are following Jesus Christ and desire as first priority the realization of His kingdom through their congregation?