Vision is overrated. Too many leaders put too much weight on their vision and not enough on other important matters of leadership. Culture, discipline, accountability, and creativity are just as important as vision.
That being said, leadership does not happen without vision. Vision is meant to inspire, engage, and capture the heart. In the church, vision statements are common, but not enough of them move the congregation to action.
How do you know when vision is working? When it’s moving your church from what is stated by the leader to what is accepted among the people. What is accepted will become the culture and then move the people in the direction of vision. What does this movement look like? There are four important ways vision moves your church.
- From inward to outward. Vision works when the movement of the church shifts from inward to outward. Priorities change from personal preferences to selfless action. For example, through the vision of one of our local mission partners to serve the homeless, I’ve experienced my own shift away from being selfish with my time. Now I find joy in giving that time to them.
- From joyless to joyful. Another shift occurs with the tone of the congregation. A church embracing vision will do so with joy. Hopefulness replaces hopelessness. Care replaces apathy. Boldness replaces fear.
- From infrequent to frequent. Attendance frequency is one of the biggest reasons churches experience a numerical decline. When a congregation embraces vision, the people start showing up more often and with more fervor. An increase in attendance frequency helps a church with giving, volunteering, communication, unity, and just about everything else.
- From comfort to sacrifice. A shift from comfort to sacrifice is perhaps the most important movement for shaping the culture. When a church is willing to sacrifice for the vision, most everything else will fall into place. Comfortable people don’t move. Sacrificial people are always looking for opportunities to do more for Jesus.
These four movements are important ways in which vision changes the direction of a congregation. Good vision will move outward with joy. Good vision will cause people to be more sacrificial with increasing frequency.