Busting Myths of Church Vision

Vision isn’t a moment on a Sunday – Vision is a movement happening everyday.

Vision isn’t a one-time event – Vision is an ongoing eventuality.

Vision isn’t a statement on a wall – Vision is a state of mind led by a call.

Vision isn’t a leader’s style – Vision is the substance of all leadership.

Vision isn’t a featured project to reveal – Vision is a future projection in which to revel.

Vision isn’t a upcoming program to launch – Vision is an ongoing picture to paint.

Vision isn’t a building for a church’s function – Vision is a framework for God’s future.

Vision isn’t a crystal-ball prognostication – Vision is a bent-knee revelation.

Vision isn’t a good idea for that one-day – Vision is God’s idea for your every-day.

Vision isn’t a realm for envied conference speaking preachers – Vision is the reality for every congregation serving pastor.

Vision isn’t a contemplative mountaintop excursion – Vision is a collaborative group discovery.

Read more from Bryan.


Want to learn more about clarifying vision for your church? Connect with an Auxano Navigator and start a conversation with our team.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryan Rose

As Lead Navigator for Auxano, Bryan Rose has a strong bias toward merging strategy and creativity within the vision of the local church and has had a diversity of experience in just about every ministry discipline over the last 12 years. With his experience as a multi-site strategist and campus pastor at a 3500 member multi-campus church in the Houston Metro area, Bryan has a passion to see “launch clarity” define the unique Great Commission call of developing church plants and campus, while at the same time serving established churches as they seek to clarify their individual ministry calling. Bryan has demonstrated achievement as a strategic thinker with a unique ability to infuse creativity into the visioning process while bringing a group of people to a deep sense of personal ownership and passion.

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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

5 Ways to Grow Mission-Hearted Leaders

Every leader needs a compass in their head. The mission answers “Question Zero”: “What are we ultimately supposed to be doing?” It makes the overall direction of the church unquestionable and points everyone in that direction. The mission is a golden thread that weaves through every activity of the church. It brings greater meaning to the most menial functions of ministry.

It’s true that every church has a General Calling to glorify God and make disciples. Every church that has ever been, or will ever be, has that same universal calling. But each church also has a Specific Calling. God has called your church to do things that no church before you or after you can do. There are good works prepared in advance just for you, and your mission should reflect that! (For example, take a look at the different mission statements of these 10 churches in Dallas, Texas, all within 30 minutes of each other. Each has a General Calling, but it’s fascinating to see how their uniqueness is stamped into their mission.)

As you can imagine, the leadership team of a church is critical to the activation of the unique mission of the church. But as Dallas Willard says, “Familiarity can breed unfamiliarity.” Things that once stoked the fires of our heart can grow colder as we spend more and more time around it. In short…we just get used to it and the thing that made it once seem extraordinary, now seem ordinary.

Even if your church has a profound missional mandate and a mission statement that’s more sticky and viral than any Nike campaign, the sharpness of it can dull over time for your church leadership team. It is essential that we are constantly letting the calling of our church reach deep into our heart and shape what we do. (If this idea of a mission and vision shaped church really piques your imagination, check out this free download from my friend Will Mancini, who’s done a Visual Summary of his book Church Unique.)


Here are five ways you can grow your team’s heart for your mission, using five different kinds of spiritual practices:

1. Pray together.

We all know that the mission of the church is inherently spiritual, but it’s easy to let the spiritual fire die down. If there’s anything that can engage us with this spiritual task, it’s connecting our heart to the heart of the Father for the mission. In the same way that Paul says that sometimes we don’t fully know how to pray but the “Spirit helps us in our weakness,” so too will praying as a team into the mission ignite the flame again.

2. Read stories from the Word of God.

Find fresh stories in the Bible that connect to the specific calling of your church. Who are the main characters? Why do they connect on an emotional and visceral level? How do these stories connect to the essence of who God has shaped your church to be?

3. Guard the deposit.

Paul instructs Timothy to “guard the deposit entrusted to you.” In your church and in your leadership team, God has placed a very particular deposit through your spiritual gifts, redemption stories, “hand of God” experiences and leadership. Does your team know what those things are? Can they name them? Can they see how God has sovereignly brought those things together?

4. Identify five new stories.

As leaders, we often times we use the same stories to point to what the mission looks like when it’s realized (we see this happen often in the Bible). Maybe it’s a miracle that happened or transformation in someone’s life early on in the life of the church and it because a kind of story passed down from person to person. But what about the here and now? Have each staff person identify five stories in the life of the church in the last 12 months that signify what the mission of the church is about.

5. Fast together.

There are all sorts of reasons to fast, but growing the heart for mission in the spirit of your team is a great one. Whether it’s giving up food for 24 hours or social media for a week, set aside a dedicated amount of time for fasting (which includes you!) and each time they feel the desire for food or to check social media, pray that God’s mission would be accomplished in and through your church family.

As leaders, it’s easy to assume that what’s clear to us and what lights the fire for the Gospel in our heart burns the exact same way. Whether you use these five ideas or have others of your own, I greatly encourage you to continue to recast the mission of your church into the hearts of your best leaders.

If you would like some help with developing or clarifying your church’s mission, I highly recommend the team at Auxano. Over a period of a few months, a navigator can meet with your team to see great clarity in your mission.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger is the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Before moving to Southern California, Eric served as senior vice-president for LifeWay Christian. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. Eric has authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, taking his daughters to the beach, and playing basketball.

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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Whose Vision Is it Anyway?

You hear ministry leaders talk all the time about what a church needs to grow. Some say it’s preaching. Some say you need a great location. Others suggest you need a vibrant ministry to children or youth.

All of those aspects are important for a healthy, growing church. But I don’t think they are what’s most important.

You start with leadership. Everything rises and falls on leadership. I see churches in great locations that struggle because of bad leadership. I see churches with great preaching struggle because of poor leadership. Leadership matters.

And leadership rests on vision.

Charisma doesn’t make a great leader. Vision does. In fact, communicating vision is your number one job as a leader. As a pastor, you need to continually clarify the vision of your church. It gets harder and harder (but more and more important) as you grow.

But where do you get vision that will propel your church forward?

You have to get vision from the Holy Spirit. God’s vision never wears out. His vision will never fail. His vision is better and grander than anything we can think up. And his vision is exactly what our churches need.

How does God communicate his vision to us? I’ve discovered through the years that God tends to share his vision with me in three stages.

1. God tells me what he’s going to do.

God starts by telling me what he wants to do through our ministry. The “what” always comes before the “how” and the “when.”

To figure out what God wants you to do, start with what God says in the Bible about what the church is supposed to do. Your church isn’t your church. It’s Jesus’ church. He founded the church, died for the church, sent his Spirit to guide the church, and someday will return for his church. He has already declared what the church is supposed to do. The purposes of the church are non-negotiable.

So start with the purposes of the church that God defines in the Bible. And then ask God to tell you how he wants to apply those purposes to your church.

2. God tells me how he’s going to do it.

Too often leaders skip this step. When God gives them a vision, they move on quickly to how they’re going to do it. They come up with their own strategy and their own plans. Then they fall on their face and come crawling back to him.

3. God tells me when he’ll complete it.

The longer I’m a Christian, the more I’m convinced that God’s timing is absolutely perfect. The week before Easter of 1980, during our final preview service at Saddleback before launching the next week, I shared what God had showed me about the church’s future.

In that message, I shared a dream of “at least 50 acres of land, on which will be built a regional church for Southern Orange County—with beautiful, yet simple, facilities . . . including a worship center seating thousands, a counseling and prayer center, classrooms for Bible studies and training lay ministers, and a recreation area. All of this will be designed to minister to the total person—spiritually, emotionally, physically, and socially—and set in a peaceful, inspiring garden landscape.”

But when I shared that vision, I had no idea how or when it would happen. I certainly had no idea it would take nearly 13 years before Saddleback had land of its own. In fact, we were the first church in America to grow to more than 10,000 in weekly attendance without a building of its own. That wasn’t my timing, but it was God’s.

Nearly all of the pastors I’ve known who lead healthy churches have gone through seasons of burnout when they’ve had to learn that their vision for the church was from the Holy Spirit, not their own ego. I came to that point at the end of my first year at Saddleback. My vision for the second year of this church was simple: Hang on. I was out of big dreams. I just wanted to keep going.

I had two particularly haunting doubts during that time. Saddleback was growing fast, and I didn’t believe I deserved it—and I didn’t think I could handle it.

The truth is, God had a few important lessons for me to learn. Out of that period, God told me, “You’re right. You don’t deserve it. But I use you by grace.” Grace is the fact that God knows everything I’m going to do in the ministry, every mistake I’m going to make, but he still uses me anyway. That’s good news.

Out of that experience came confidence rooted in the realization that everything God does at Saddleback is an act of grace. It’s not my responsibility to build the church. It’s my responsibility to be faithful. While I was out there in the desert, God said, “You build the people, and I’ll build the church.”

So whatever vision God gives you for your ministry, hold it loosely. For nearly 40 years, I’ve prayed over and over again, “God, if I’m getting in the way of this church, I’m willing to move.” The vision for Saddleback has never been mine. In the same way, the vision for your church belongs to God.

> Read more from Rick.


 

Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about creating a Vision Pathway for your church.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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Clarity Process

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10 Reasons You’ve Hit Your Ceiling

Every church goes through plateaus—times when your church simply doesn’t grow. It’s natural and normal, and they’re part of our story at Saddleback.

Our plateaus have looked different at times, but they’ve been there. In fact, a decade ago we were in the midst of one such five-year plateau. But then God did what only he can do. Today we’re going through a renewed period of growth.

In nearly 50 years of ministry, I’ve talked with thousands of pastors going through their own periods of plateau. I’ve studied the issue extensively. Here’s what I’ve learned.

1. Plateaus are natural.

Don’t get freaked out by them. Plateaus are just a state of little or no change. Everything stops growing at some point. It happens all of the time in nature. It shouldn’t surprise us when it happens in our churches. It will happen in our churches. You can count on it.

2. God created every organism to have a maximum limit on its growth.

Even redwood trees, which grow to 400 feet tall and live for 2,000 years, have a growth cap. Your church does, too. You can’t use it as an excuse, though. You don’t know what the limit for your church is.

I know a church of 150 in a town of 1,500. They’ve reached 10 percent of their community. Think about it. This church is actually doing a better job of reaching its community than many larger churches.

3. The younger and smaller you are, the faster your growth rate.

You can see this characteristic in human growth, too. We typically grow the fastest when we’re children. By our late teens, we’re done growing. When I started Saddleback, we had one member—my wife, Kay. By the end of the first year, we had around 150 people most weekends. That means we grew by 15,000 percent that first year! But a bigger church can’t do that. The bigger you are, the slower you grow.

4. The average church grows for 15 years, plateaus, and then eventually dies.

Not every church does this. Some churches have a longer growth span. Others have a shorter one. But on average, a church will stop growing at 15 years old—unless renewal comes. This is just an average, of course. It doesn’t mean every church will plateau at 15 years and then eventually die. And with renewal, a church will grow.

5. Plateaus can happen anytime.

You can plateau in year one of a church or year 40. You’ll typically plateau multiple times in your church’s history. I’ve studied thousands of churches and trained hundreds of thousands of pastors, and I’ve seen a few typical points in which churches stop growing.

Churches often plateau at 75 and 150 people. But the hardest to overcome is usually 300. If you can get past 300 people, you’ll likely have solved many of your most difficult problems. The larger your church gets, the easier it will get to break plateaus because you will have developed the skills needed through earlier growth and plateau cycles.

6. Some plateaus are uncontrollable.

You may be the greatest leader since Abraham Lincoln and still go through a plateau. You simply can’t control all of the factors that cause your church to stop growing. For instance, if you’re in a typical small town and a large factory closes and the members move away, that’s not your fault. You’re not a failure. It’s just a fact of life.

7. Plateaus can happen in one purpose while you’re growing in the other purposes.

If you’ve been reading Ministry Toolbox for a while, you know the five purposes of the church: worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, and evangelism. You can certainly grow in one of those areas as you’re plateauing in another. You could be bringing people in the front door but sending them out the back door. To be healthy, you need to do all of the purposes.

8. The longer a church is plateaued, the more energy it takes to get it growing again.

It’s a matter of momentum. It’s clearly easier to keep an active object moving than to get a static object to move. If your church hasn’t grown for the past six months, or a year, you’ll have challenges as you try to restart growth. If it has been five years, you’ll have a bigger challenge. If your church has been plateaued for 20 years, you’ll have a real problem. It’s not impossible though. With God’s help, you can break through it. But it’ll be more difficult.

9. Some plateaus are actually seasons.

Every church goes through seasons in its life. Everything grows during springtime. You start harvesting in the fall. Then winter comes along. It’s cold. It’s dark. The days are shorter.

Your ministry may be in the winter right now. Hang on. Springtime’s coming. It may be just a season.

10. A plateau doesn’t have to be a dead end! It can be a gateway to the next level.

Growing churches have figured out how to break through the inevitable growth barriers that come along. You can break them, too. Often, once you break through, you’ll experience a new season of growth.

We saw this at Saddleback. I mentioned earlier that we hit a plateau between 2005 and 2010, so we made some structural changes. I learned some new skills, and we started growing again. And we’ve grown steadily over the last eight years—sometimes as much as 10 percent a year.

I’m confident your church can grow again, too. I believe God will finish what he started in your church. It’s what he does. Just remind yourself of Philippians 1:6: I am sure that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus” (GNT).

> Read more from Rick here.

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Communicate Your Vision: Create Stories that Reflect Experience

There is no more powerful engine driving an organization toward excellence and long-range success than an attractive, worthwhile, and achievable vision of the future, widely shared.

– Burt Nanus

The right vision for the future of an organization moves people to action, and because of their action, the organization evolves and makes process. Like a bicycle, an organization must continually move forward, or fall over. The role of vision in driving the organization forward is indispensible.

The vision’s power lies in its ability to grab the attention of those both inside and outside the organization and to focus that attention on a common dream – a sense of direction that both makes sense and provides direction.

To that end, your church’s vision cannot exist merely as words on a page or website, or in an impressive visual display in your church foyer.

Articulating your vision through consistent and powerful ideas is one of the toughest tasks of leadership.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins, by Annette Simmons

Stories have tremendous power. They can persuade, promote empathy, and provoke action. Better than any other communication tool, stories explain who you are, what you want…and why it matters. In presentations, department meetings, over lunch any place you make a case for new customers, more business, or your next big idea you’ll have greater impact if you have a compelling story to relate.

Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins will teach you to narrate personal experiences as well as borrowed stories in a way that demonstrates authenticity, builds emotional connections, inspires perseverance, and stimulates the imagination. Fully updated and more practical than ever, the second edition reveals how to use storytelling to:

  • Capture attention
  • Motivate listeners
  • Gain trust
  • Strengthen your argument
  • Sway decisions
  • Demonstrate authenticity and encourage transparency
  • Spark innovation
  • Manage uncertainty

Complete with examples, a proven storytelling process and techniques, innovative applications, and a new appendix on teaching storytelling, Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins hands you the tools you need to get your message across and connect successfully with any audience.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

Organizations run on numbers, facts, forecasts, and processes. If that sounds dull and unengaging, it’s because those factors are not what really drive our passion and desire to excel, to lead, or to sink our hearts and souls into the work we do. Ultimately, the kind of transformative results that can come only from enriched, passionate people depend on a distinctly human element – storytelling.

The power of even a simple story to affirm someone’s connection to your organization’s people, values, and vision can mean the difference between simple competence and fully realized ownership. Your stories help people feel more engaged and alive.

Story can be defined as a reimagined experience narrated with enough detail and feeling to cause your listener’s imaginations to experience it as real.

You are already telling stories about who you are, why you are here, and what you envision, value, teach, and think about. The problem is, you haven’t realized how much your stories matter. To help us pay attention, let’s look at the six kinds of stories we tell that lead to influence, imagination, and innovation.

Who-I-Am Stories

What qualities earn you the right to influence a particular person? Tell of a time, place, or event that provides evidence you have these qualities.

Why-I-Am-Here Stories

When someone assumes you are there to sell an idea that will cost him or her money, time, or resources, it immediately discredits your “facts” as biased.

Teaching Stories

Certain lessons are best learned from experience, and some lessons are learned over and over again. It’s better to tell a story that creates a shared experience.

Vision Stories

A worthy, exciting future story reframes present difficulties as “worth it.”

Value-in-Action Stories

Values are subjective. Hypothetical situations sound hypocritical.

I-Know-What-You-Are Thinking Stories

People like to stay safe. It is a trust-building surprise for you to share their secret suspicions in a story that first validates then dispels these objections without sounding defenseless.

When you turn your attention to the six kinds of stories, you will be more intentional in creating the kind of perceptions that achieve goals rather than reinforce problems.

Annette Simmons, Whoever Tells the Best Story Wins

A NEXT STEP

People are starving for meaningful stories, while we are surrounded by impersonal messages dressed in bells and whistles that are story-ish but are not effective. People want to feel a human presence in your messages, to taste a trace of humanity that proves there is a “you” as sender. Learning how to tell personal stories teaches you how to deliver the sense of humanity in the messages you send.

Schedule some time where you can be alone to complete the following exercise.

Imagine you are stranded alone on a desert island. You have six slips of paper, a pencil, and six bottles. If you could communicate one thing by using each of the six story types listed above that would inspire your church for the future, what would it be and how would you say it?

Write each of the six “messages” on a separate sheet of paper, then roll them up to create scrolls. Insert each message in a separate bottle.

At your next team meeting, read each message aloud, and discuss it as a group.

Ask each team member to repeat the process on his or her own over the next month.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix 84-1, issued January 2018.


 

This is part of a weekly series posting excerpts from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix book excerpts for church leaders.

SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; each solution is taken from a different book. Additionally, a practical action step is included with each solution.

As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS Remix provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

> > Subscribe to SUMS Remix <<

 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

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. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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— Ann Stokman
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

3 Signposts on the Road to Discovering God’s Vision

I’m often asked, “Is there any single common denominator that you can find in every growing church?”  I have studied churches for many years, read about them, and visited them. I’ve discovered that God uses all kinds of churches, in all kinds of different ways, all different methods and styles.  But there is one common denominator that you can find in every growing church regardless of denomination, regardless of nationality, and regardless of size.

That common denominator is leadership that is not afraid to believe God.  It’s the faith factor.

Nothing starts happening until somebody starts dreaming.  Every accomplishment started off first as an idea in somebody’s mind.  It started off as a dream.  It started off as a vision, a goal.  If you don’t have a goal for your church, your default goal is to remain the same.  If you aim at nothing, you’re definitely going to hit it.

A church without a vision is never going to grow, and a church’s vision will never be larger than the vision of its pastor.  So you as a leader and as a pastor, must have God’s vision for your church.  The very first task of leadership is to set the vision for the organization.  If you don’t set the vision, you’re not the leader.  Whoever is establishing the vision in your church is the leader of that particular church.  A church will never outgrow its vision and the vision of a church will never outgrow the vision of the pastor.

If I’m smart I can always compensate for my weaknesses.  I can always hire people to do things or delegate to volunteers the things that I can’t do.  If I’m not good at counseling, I can find people who are good at counseling.  If I’m not good at administration and details, I can find people to handle administration and details. But there is one thing I cannot delegate.  I cannot ask other people to believe God for me.  I have to set the pace in terms of vision, in terms of dreams, in terms of faith, in terms of what God wants to do in our lives and in our congregation.  You cannot delegate faith in God.

The Bible tells us in Proverbs 11:27 (Good News translation) “If your goals are good you will be respected.”

So I want to challenge you to dream great dreams for God.  One nice thing about dreaming is that it doesn’t cost anything.  You can have great dreams and think through and pray through and it doesn’t cost you anything at all.  The Bible says  “God is able to do far more than anything we would ever dare to ask or even dream of, infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts or hopes.” (Ephesians 3:20, Living Bible). God comes along and says, “Think up the biggest thing you think I can do in your life, in your ministry, in your church and I can top that.  I can beat it.”

So you need to ask yourself this question, “What would I attempt for God if I knew I couldn’t fail?  Let that expand your horizons.  Let it expand your dreams.  Expand your vision.  It starts with a dream.

There are three parts to getting God’s vision for your ministry.

The first thing God shows you is He shows you the What?  He shows you what He’s going to do.  The big mistake we make once we have a sense of what God wants to do is trying to accomplish it on our own. Inevitably we fall flat on our faces and come crawling back to God saying, “Oh, God.  I’m so sorry.  What did I do?  Did I miss the vision?  You told me what You were going to do and I went out and tried to accomplish it and fell flat on my face.  Did I miss the vision?”

And God will say to you, “No, you didn’t.  You just didn’t wait for part two.  I told you what I was going to do but you didn’t wait to find out How I was going to do it.”  When God shows you how it always seems to be the opposite way that you thought. And once you see the What and the How you’re still not finished.  There’s a third part of the vision.

God shows you When.  The longer that I’m alive and the longer I walk with the Lord and the longer I’m in ministry the more I’m convinced that God’s timing is perfect.  He is never a minute early, He is never a minute late, He is always right on time.  These are the three parts to getting God’s vision – What, How and When.  And you must wait for all three parts for God to work in your life.

When I started Saddleback church, I didn’t envision the enormous campus and the big building we now have.  In fact, I’m not a very visual thinker.  Some people can see it.  They’re like artists and they can visualize the church buildings when they’re all finished and they can see exactly what it’s going to look like in their mind.  I’ve never been that kind of person.  I have what I call Polaroid vision.  Have you ever taken a Polaroid picture?  You take it and the longer you look at it the clearer it gets.  That’s true in my life.  When I first started Saddleback I didn’t know what it was going to end up like.  All I knew was that God had called me to this spot and I had a bunch of ideas in a bag and I wanted to build it on the five purposes of God. As I have walked with the Lord and worked with the Lord over the years, the vision has gotten clearer and clearer.

You get God’s vision by saying “What do You want me to do?  How do You want me to do it?  And When do You want me to do it?”  You need to stop praying, “God, bless what I’m doing.”  And instead start praying, “God, help me to do what You want to bless.”  I get up in the morning and I pray a very similar prayer every day.  “God, I know You’re going to do some very exciting things in the world today.  Would You give me the privilege of just being in on some of them?  I just want to be in on what You’re doing.  I want to do what You’re blessing.”

God uses the person who has a dream.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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One Word Makes Your Mission Missional

One word. That’s it… one word could mean the difference between your congregation merely liking – or really living – the church’s mission. This idea surfaced last week on the latest My Ministry Breakthrough podcast.

Barrett Bowden, lead pastor of Island Community Church in downtown Memphis, and I discussed one word in their mission. Using “our” instead of “the” when talking about a calling to the world immediately made ICC’s missional mandate intensively relevant to each person.

One word may seem minor, but imagine the difference between “being transformed by Jesus to impact the world” versus “being transformed by Jesus to impact our world.” One names an ethereal, general notion of outreach. The other forces people to consider how the Gospel will impact their neighbors, co-workers, and classmates – as well as distant people groups in other countries. As Barrett stated it:

“We should have that shared ownership of our local context, our neighborhood, but also distant peoples. God gives us, the local church, that burden… and opportunity. It is ours to own, and to joyfully see it, and then go after it.”

One word will make the difference between people smiling and nodding when you cast vision from the mission – or being moved to imagine and envision themselves on-mission in everyday life.

One word engages people beyond fellowship around a phrase into ownership of a purpose. Here are a few other church mission statements in which one simple word moves people from appreciation to invitation:

Visalia Christian Reformed Church in Visalia, California: Grafting each person into Gospel shaped community. Using the word each, instead of all or every, brings the object of the calling to know the unique individual, not merely a nameless group.

Calvary Christian Church in Burke, Virginia: Guiding people to forge a life-long reliance on God.Now renamed as Foundry Church, using the word guiding instead of helping leads every member of Foundry to both be forged and lead others to do the same. Guides cannot lead from the seats in worship, they have to be on the trails of life.

Northwoods Community Church in Peoria, Illinois: Inviting broken-world people to experience complete freedom in Christ Jesus. For Northwoods, it took courage to use broken-world instead of a safer, user-friendlier word like “all people” or “every person.” Naming this broken world draws every member into the understanding that “the world” is broken, “our world” is broken, and “my world” is broken, and therefore we must be actively inviting people to experience freedom in this brokenness.

St John Lutheran Church in Cypress, Texas: Connecting our neighbors to true riches in Jesus.Similar to Island Community Church, the word “our” in front of neighbors make it every person’s responsibility to connect in an upwardly mobile suburb of Houston, not just the staff’s.

Highland Park Baptist Church, Muscle Shoals, Alabama: Mobilizing all people to live as Jesus-followers. For HP, it was adding one word, the word “all” to an already well-established mission that shifted their focus from organizational purpose to an individual and missional mandate.

If one word could make a difference in your mission, it could just be an eternal one.

Auxano provides church leaders with a free 30-minute vision assessment call with one of our team of vision-crafting practitioners. To evaluate the words of your mission, schedule an assessment call here, or shoot me an email with a specific question (contact details here).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bryan Rose

As Lead Navigator for Auxano, Bryan Rose has a strong bias toward merging strategy and creativity within the vision of the local church and has had a diversity of experience in just about every ministry discipline over the last 12 years. With his experience as a multi-site strategist and campus pastor at a 3500 member multi-campus church in the Houston Metro area, Bryan has a passion to see “launch clarity” define the unique Great Commission call of developing church plants and campus, while at the same time serving established churches as they seek to clarify their individual ministry calling. Bryan has demonstrated achievement as a strategic thinker with a unique ability to infuse creativity into the visioning process while bringing a group of people to a deep sense of personal ownership and passion.

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Clarity Process

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Six Strategies to Communicate Vision to Your Church

Your most important job as a church leader isn’t to hire and fire. It isn’t to manage a budget. It isn’t to mentor younger leaders. It’s not even to preach.

All of those tasks are important. They’re part of what you do as a church leader.

But your main job as a leader is to remind your congregation continually of your church’s vision. Everything else you can delegate. You can’t delegate vision.

Proverbs says, “Without a vision, the people perish.” You have a lot riding on the vision you communicate to your church.

Communicating vision get harder and harder—and much more important—as your church grows. I saw this firsthand at Saddleback. If you’ve heard the story of Saddleback, you know I shared a vision for the future of the church during our trial run, a week before our official launch.

At first, it was relatively easy to keep the church focused on the vision. When we were small, the only people who came were non-Christians. They had zero expectations about what church should be like. All they knew was Saddleback. We didn’t have a children’s ministry, a youth ministry, or a music ministry. The people who wanted all of those programs went somewhere else. Those who came to Saddleback largely followed the vision we set in that initial service.

But the larger we grew, the more people came from other churches. Growth alone doesn’t solve a church’s problems. It just changes them. All of those people brought their baggage with them from their old churches. I started hearing on a regular basis, “We did it like this at my old church.”

At that point, I had to become very intentional about how I communicated the vision.

Yes, you should do a vision message (or even better, a series of messages) once a year. But that shouldn’t be all your church hears about your church’s vision. If I had only communicated the church’s vision annually, we’d be a different church today. Churches need more than just a once-a-year infusion of vision. They need constant reminders about what the church is all about.

When you don’t regularly refocus your church around a shared vision, you’ll slowly find your church experiencing vision drift. You may have, at one time, shared a compelling vision with your congregation that everyone rallied around. But as other people came on board, your church incorporated other elements into the original vision. It doesn’t take long before the vision becomes unrecognizable from the original.

That’s why your number one job as a leader is to communicate the vision of your ministry. Whether you’re the senior leader who must communicate your vision to the entire church or a leader of a specific ministry who must regularly keep that ministry’s vision in front of the people, vision-casting is your most important responsibility.

Because organizations, churches included, naturally experience vision drift, the best leaders aren’t necessarily the most charismatic. The best leaders are the ones who keep organizations moving forward together toward the mission.

Over the past 38 years at Saddleback, I’ve leaned on some specific methods to keep the vision in front of our church family. Here are six of the most important.

1. Scripture

Your church needs to realize that its vision doesn’t come from your whims. It’s centered on what the Bible teaches about the church. Every part of your church’s vision needs to be supported by Scriptures that explain and illustrate your reason for doing it. Let people see how blessed they are to have the church, the body of Christ. Help your members to develop a high respect for the family of God—and his purposes for the church.

2. Application Steps 

Part of reminding your congregation about the church’s vision is to continually put before them the activities that will help the church achieve the vision. If part of your vision is to help people build meaningful relationships in your church, remind your people of the vision as you encourage them to get involved in small groups. If part of your vision is to be involved in local and global missions, regularly communicate opportunities for them to participate in missions.

3. Symbols

Some say 65 percent of people are visual learners. It could even be higher than that. Regardless, people need visual representations of your vision to help them grasp it. Symbols can paint powerful pictures that words alone can’t do.

At Saddleback, we’ve used a diamond shape and a series of concentric circles to describe the church’s vision and purposes. I’ve seen other churches use racetracks, mountains, rivers, and soccer fields. Each of these communicated the vision of the church within a specific context of ministry.

4. Slogans 

People will remember slogans long after they’ve forgotten your sermons. Many key events in history have hinged on a slogan: Remember the Alamo! Sink the Bismarck! I shall return! Give me liberty or give me death! History proves that a simple slogan, repeatedly shared with conviction, can motivate people to do things they would normally never do—even to give up their lives on a battlefield.

We’ve used dozens of slogans at Saddleback to help communicate the church’s vision (such as “every member is a minister” and “all leaders are learners”). Take some time to go through your vision with an eye for easy-to-communicate slogans that describe parts of your vision.

5. Stories

Jesus frequently used stories to help people relate to his vision. Stories help people personalize and dramatize your vision. I try to regularly include testimonies (delivered in person and through letters) from people who are regularly living out the vision and purposes of the church. Those illustrations help people at our church understand what it looks like to demonstrate Saddleback’s vision. It also makes heroes out of the people who do the work of the church. People tend to do whatever is rewarded. Brag on your church’s heroes. Tell their stories.

6. Specifics

Provide concrete actions that explain how you’ll achieve your vision. Plan programs around it. Hire staff around it. Remember that nothing becomes dynamic until it becomes specific. When a vision is vague, it holds no attraction. The more specific your church’s vision is, the more it will grab attention and attract commitment.

Vision drift is natural. Do nothing and your church will drift from the vision, no matter how compelling it is. If you don’t purposefully and consistently refocus your church around a singular vision, your church will become something quite different.

Lean on these six strategies to communicate your church’s vision to the congregation. Be creative. Add to these ideas. Do whatever it takes to focus your people around a shared biblical vision. That’s what true leadership is all about.

> Read more from Rick.


 

> Connect with an Auxano Navigator to learn more about communicating your vision.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rick Warren

Rick Warren

Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and most influential churches. Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. His book, The Purpose Driven Church, was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for pastors.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
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comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
— RussellC
 
comment_post_ID); ?> Love this
 
— Ann Stokman
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

Three Places to Uncover Values in Your Culture

While serving alongside the Auxano team, I learned the important distinction between vision, mission, strategy, and values. Well-intentioned leaders can confuse those and mix and match them in a way that actually harms clarity.

  • Mission is the what. Your mission is what your organization or ministry is on the planet to do.
  • Strategy is the how. Your strategy is how you accomplish the mission.
  • Vision is what you are pursuing now – the major goals in front of your team that are in alignment with your mission.
  • And your values impact everything you do because your values form the culture of your ministry organization.

Because it is the shared values and beliefs that form the culture, it is critically important for leaders to understand the values beneath the surface. Wise leaders don’t declare values; they uncover the values that are already there. In your organization, you can learn the values that are beneath the surface by looking in a few places. Doing so will help you understand the culture, and understanding the culture is more important than understanding the strategy because strategy is much more flexible than culture. So where do you look? To uncover the values in your culture, look in these three places:

1. The Heroes and Stories

The leaders in the culture that are spoken of as the epitome of the ministry or organization are good examples of the values on display. Listen to the stories that describe the heroes in the culture and you can learn what is valued. As I interviewed and onboarded into my new role at Mariners Church, I heard numerous stories of God’s people at Mariners serving the poor and marginalized in our community and around the world. The stories are beautiful and amazing. By listening, you can learn a lot about what is valued.

2. The Celebrations

Plato famously declared, “What is celebrated in a country is cultivated.” The same is true in any ministry or organization. Whatever has been celebrated has formed the culture. If a ministry celebrates tangible impact in a local community, you know local engagement is in the culture. If a ministry celebrates volunteers who are equipped for ministry, you know that leadership development is in the culture. If you pay attention to what is celebrated you will you learn what is valued. If you want to add a value to a culture, you will need to find ways to celebrate and cultivate that value. You won’t be able to merely speak a value into existence. You may be the leader, but you are not God.

3. The Language

As the new senior pastor of Mariners, I knew one of my first tasks was to understand the culture beneath the surface at Mariners. Thankfully there was language and history for me to study.

I have been fortunate and blessed to follow an exceptional leader in Kenton Beshore. He has, infused the church with values that have created the culture. When he became the senior pastor 35 years ago, he brought the church a list of five values to the church:

  • We teach God’s Word.
  • Be God’s loving family.
  • Every believer is a minister with a ministry.
  • Be innovative in our ministry and relevant in our community.
  • Be contagious in sharing Jesus Christ

Those values have been crystalized over time. I am leading our team through those values again. We are spending one staff meeting a month, with our whole team, walking through the importance and the implications of each value. It is helping me learn the culture, and I hope and pray it is helping us all renew our commitment to and unify around values that have formed the church we are honored to serve.

I love strategy. I have a tendency to go there first. Strategy is important, but culture is more so. Peter Drucker wisely quipped that “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” My friend Will Mancini has provided helpful tools, such as this one, to help leaders articulate values through demonstration of those values.

If you are a ministry leader who would like some strategic outside eyes to help you and your team uncover your unique identity, not only your values but also your mission and your strategy, I highly recommend Auxano. I have learned a great deal from the team and believe wholeheartedly they would serve you and your team well. To reach out to the team, click here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger

Eric Geiger is the Senior Pastor of Mariners Church in Irvine, California. Before moving to Southern California, Eric served as senior vice-president for LifeWay Christian. Eric received his doctorate in leadership and church ministry from Southern Seminary. Eric has authored or co-authored several books including the best selling church leadership book, Simple Church. Eric is married to Kaye, and they have two daughters: Eden and Evie. During his free time, Eric enjoys dating his wife, taking his daughters to the beach, and playing basketball.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
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comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
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comment_post_ID); ?> Love this
 
— Ann Stokman
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.

A Purpose-Full People. Part 2: Where Purpose Leads

God created you with one-of-a-kind potential and placed you on earth for a specific purpose. Due to the busyness of life, you’ve likely never identified your unique calling in a way that brings life-changing clarity. Most haven’t and like a distinct echo, the promise of a vision-guided life remains illusive, drowning under the demands of life.

Your divine design—God’s design for your life—is more knowable than you realize. You are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which he has prepared in advance, that you should walk in them. With the right tools, you can discover your life vision and align your life vocation. You can and should know your Life Younique—your God-given identity and your God-inspired dreams. Most importantly, you can discern and design the practical next steps to get there.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – Visioneering, by Andy Stanley

Everybody ends up somewhere in life.
Wouldn’t you like to end up somewhere on purpose?

What breaks your heart?
What keeps you up at night?
What could be that should be?

Andy Stanley believes these questions are breadcrumbs that lead to the discovery of personal vision. With down-to-earth practicality, Andy extracts principles from the story of Nehemiah to help you discover your purpose in life.

Visioneering includes helpful exercises and time-tested ideas for visionary decision-making, personal growth, and leadership at home and at work. Catch a glimpse of God’s incredible vision for your life, relationships, and business—and discover the passion to follow it.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

What is clarity really about? How can pursuing clarity help us discover our purpose in life?

The concept of clarity means being free from anything that obscures, blocs, pollutes, or darkens. If you have clarity, you see things simply in an understandable and precise way.

Clarity will help you make your life direction unquestionable.

Honoring God involves discovering his picture or vision of what our lives could and should be. Glorifying God involves discovering what we could and should accomplish.

We were created and re-created with his purposes in mind. And until we discover his purpose – and follow through – there will always be a hole in our soul.

As Christians, we do not have the right to take our talents, abilities, experiences, opportunities, and education and run off in any direction we please. We lost that right at Calvary. But then, why would we dream of such a thing? God has a vision for your life. What could possibly be more fulfilling than that?

At the same time, we have no right to live visionless lives either. If God – think about it – if God has a vision for what you are to do with your allotment of years, you had better get on with it. What a tragedy to miss it. Missing out on God’s plan for our lives must be the greatest tragedy this side of eternity.

Your uniqueness and individuality will reach its pinnacle in the context of your pursuit of God’s plan for your life. Manmade visions all begin to look alike after a while. Unless you discover God’s unique vision for your future, your life may very well be a rerun.

Andy Stanley, Visioneering

A NEXT STEP

Andy Stanly, in “Visioneering,” says that “Vision gives significance to the otherwise meaningless details of our lives.” To further develop this thought, he wants you to realize how vision weaves four things into the fabric of our daily lives.

Reflect on each of the areas below.

Passion – vision is always accompanied by strong emotion; the clearer the vision, the stronger the emotion. How is your vision being expressed in powerful and compelling emotions?

Motivation – vision provides motivation. In what areas of your life is vision providing motivation on a regular basis?

Direction – vision sets a direction for our lives. How is your vision prioritizing your values and providing direction to your life?

Purpose – vision gives you a reason to get up and show up. How is your vision providing purpose in your daily life?

Network with 2-3 other staff members who live in close geographic proximity. Ask them these questions around their calling and process together how God might call you into greater collaboration together to reach your community for Christ.

Excerpt taken from SUMS Remix #75-3, issued September 2017.


 

This is part of a weekly series posting excerpts from one of the most innovative content sources in the church world: SUMS Remix Book Summaries for church leaders.

SUMS Remix takes a practical problem in the church and looks at it with three solutions; each solution is taken from a different book. Additionally, a practical action step is included with each solution.

As a church leader you get to scan relevant books based on practical tools and solutions to real ministry problems, not just by the cover of the book. Each post will have the edition number which shows the year and what number it is in the overall sequence. (SUMS Remix provides 26 issues per year, delivered every other week to your inbox). 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

VRcurator

VRcurator

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. He joined Auxano in 2012.

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comment_post_ID); ?> Thanks Thom, You’re exactly correct. Now how about some solutions when confronted by one of these wayward actors?
 
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comment_post_ID); ?> This is hilarious. Well done!
 
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comment_post_ID); ?> Love this
 
— Ann Stokman
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.