6 Essentials of Vision Casting as Modeled by Martin Luther King

His Dream Became a Reality

Over 50 years ago, Martin Luther King delivered his electrifying “I Have a Dream” speech from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial during the March on Washington, which became a flash point for a movement.

The legend endures beyond memory from a dwindling number of witnesses, but no one alive that day anticipated its sweetly patriotic glow.

– Taylor Branch

King’s speech is rightly remembered as one of the greatest speeches in American history. But few people remember that King stood on those same steps at the Lincoln Memorial 6 years earlier, with many of the same civil rights leaders present, and failed to rally the people.

What was the difference?


Departing from his carefully written speech after only a few lines, King paused before continuing on with what are surely four of the most famous words uttered:

I Have a Dream…


Martin Luther King saw himself as a vision caster on that day – a connector not only to how clearly he saw current life but more importantly, how to get to the next immediate future.

As a church leader, you are a vision caster too.

The language of vision casting employs metaphor and story, but your vision has to have a qualitative element as well. There are six essential elements leaders should include for moving people forward in achieving their vision:

> Common DenominatorDo you build an emotional connection based on shared history? Great vision casting moments start by looking back momentarily before looking forward.

> Burning PlatformDo you frame the larger need and speak to the fear of loss? The greatest mistake in vision casting is not recognizing that vision is always a solution to a prior problem.

> Golden TomorrowDo you promise a better world in which people will want to live? Stop vision casting to make the church better and show people how the church makes life better.

> Wake-Up CallDo you create urgency and induce action? The vision casting moment must remind people why action is required today.

> Mind StretchDo you enlarge faith and challenge the imagination with audacious, God-sized goals? Without a mind-blowing goal in front of them, your people will never have a reason for risk taking, collaboration, and heroic sacrifice.

> God SmileDo you clarify your biblical basis and show how God’s heart is pleased? The vision should be dripping with allusions to Scripture and the unquestionable history of God’s work among the local community.

Auxano Founder Will Mancini created a tool to help leaders like you evaluate your vision casting. Called the “Spider Diagram,” it will help you evaluate your vision casting communications on the six points listed above.

SpiderDiagramPDFFor each essential, the tool has a line to score on a scale of one to five (one being poor, toward the center; five being excellent, near the outer edge). As you measure your vision casting exercise, connecting the scores can plot the vision effectiveness. The ideal is that the vision makes a “wheel” that can roll smoothly.

In honor of Dr. King’s vision, and as an exercise in evaluating an excellent example of a vision casting speech, use the Spider Diagram tool below while listening to the “I Have a Dream” speech.



Great communicators create movements.

>> Download the Spider Diagram here.

>>Watch Dr. King’s I Have a Dream speech.




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Bob Adams is Auxano's Vision Room Curator. His background includes over 23 years as an associate/executive pastor as well as 8 years as the Lead Consultant for a church design build company.

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Recent Comments
comment_post_ID); ?> I agree with your 3 must-haves. I would add that the rectors have to call on every member who attends, at least once a year. The existence of a "calling commitee" is just an excuse to avoid making the effort. This is part of #3. If a rector does not like to call on parishioners, then she/he should not be a rector, but should find a different ministry. Carter Kerns, former senior warden, Diocese of Eastern Oregon and lifelong Episcopalian Tel# 541-379-3124
— Carter Kerns
comment_post_ID); ?> Are there any reliable statistics about the percentage of church plants that fail after 3 years in the US?
— Jon Moore
comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks

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