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No. 5: Come up With a Strategy

On one level, Jonathan’s military strategy seems foolhardy. He exposed himself in broad daylight and conceded the high ground. But Jonathan knew what he was doing. He had studied the Philistines. He knew their mindset, their patterns, their proclivities. He wasn’t acting out of ignorance. He knew exactly what he was getting into.

Vision is something revealed to us by God. But once God reveals a vision, you have to do your homework. You have to come up with a strategy. Here’s how we do that at NCC: Every fall we do a planning retreat as a staff. We analyze our annual survey. We dream together and pray together. And we come up with a strategy for everything. We leave the retreat with a discipleship strategy, marketing strategy, preaching strategy, outreach strategy and staffing strategy, just to name a few. From there, we ...

No. 6: Go Public

I don’t know how long Jonathan thought about climbing this cliff, or how long he prayed or strategized. But there comes a point when you have to go public with the vision God has given you.

For the record, you’ll never be ready. You’ll never be experienced enough, educated enough or spiritual enough. For what it’s worth, not one person on our staff had ever worked at a coffeehouse when we got the vision to build a coffeehouse. We had no business going into the coffeehouse business. But God had given us a vision.

Don’t get me wrong: Our business-administrator-turned-coffeehouse-manager went to work at Starbucks before we opened. We did reconnaissance at dozens of coffeehouses and studied up as much as we could. But we still weren’t ready. For that matter, we weren’t ready to become a multisite church. If you don’t have enough volunteers at one location, how can you staff two? Cast a vision.

Here’s how we sequence our vision casting at National Community Church. It starts with staff. We want to make sure we have buy-in. Then we broaden the circle and cast vision to our leaders. We do this at our annual leadership retreat in January. You want to make sure your leaders are on board before you cast vision to the congregation. Once they’re with you, go public with the vision. For us, that happens the last Sunday in January during our State of the Church message. We pattern this after the State of the Union address that happens a few blocks from our church, casting vision for the next year with our congregation just as the president does with a nation.

Back to Jonathan. Before making a move, he tells his armorbearer about his crazy plan to climb the cliff. And instead of laughing in Jonathan’s face or pointing out the foolishness of his master’s plan, his armorbearer says, “I am with you heart and soul” (1 Sam. 14:7, NIV).

I believe our churches are full of armorbearers like Jonathan’s. They want to live courageously for the cause of Christ. They want to be part of something bigger and more important than they are. They want to make a difference. But they are waiting for Jonathan to challenge them to climb the cliff. All they need is a leader like you to propel them forward. Cast the vision!


Mark Batterson is the lead pastor of National Community Church (theaterchurch.com) in Washington, D.C., and author of Wild Goose Chase and In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day.

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