Following the leadership of Thom Rainer, I define a church vision as "God's particular plan for a particular church at a particular time" —that is, it is prayerfully capturing what God wants to do through current leaders and laity in the current context. A vision matters, for it guides the church in all it does.
On the other hand, many churches have no clear vision. Here are some signs of this problem:
- Nobody, beginning with the leaders, can state the vision. That's a sure sign that no vision exists. By the way, some churches that actually have a mission statement still face this same problem, evidenced when nobody knows the statement.
- Leadership tends to be reactive rather than proactive. Leaders who spend more time putting out fires than igniting sparks for ministry seldom operate under a clear vision.
- Leaders are often divided. They're not a team, for a team strives for the same victory. Visionless churches can't even state what "victory" will look like.
- Ministries are disorganized and siloed. They may be good ministries, but each ministry lives on its own turf. Nothing connects them so their combined efforts point toward a clear end.
- Passions rather than planning ignite the church's varied ministries. New activities and ministries start just because somebody has a passion and a burden—not because those ministries contribute to the church's overall goal.
- Internal conflict festers. That happens when a church is going through the motions of activity without a clear sense of direction and goals. Agendas fill the void that the lack of vision creates.
- The goal seems to be to "get through the next weekend" rather than to maximize efforts to reach the unchurched. Everything feels like a Band-aid on a problem rather than an exciting step toward the future.
- Budget expenditures are a big deal. A clear vision helps diminish budget wars, for the church knows exactly where they want to go. Where there is no clear vision, though, people begin to fight to protect their own favorite ministries.
- Many church members just sit. That's easy to do when the church has no vision. Why invest yourself in something that's only floating along, with no sense of purpose?
- Strong leaders don't stay long. The most-equipped leaders don't waste much time in a church that has no direction. They go to a church that knows where they're going.
What would you add to this list?
Chuck Lawless is dean and vice president of graduate studies and Ministry Centers at Southeastern Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina, where he also serves as professor of evangelism and missions. In addition, he is global theological education consultant for the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.
This article originally appeared at chucklawless.com.
Get Spirit-filled content delivered right to your inbox! Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.
Dr. Steve Greene is now sharing stories, teachings, and conversations with guests who lead with love on Love Leads, a new podcast. Listen now.
Help Charisma stay strong for years to come as we report on life in the Spirit. Become an integral part of Charisma’s work by joining Charisma Media Partners. Click here to keep us strong!
Dr. Mark Rutland's
National Institute of Christian Leadership (NICL)
The NICL is one of the top leadership training programs in the U.S. taught by Dr. Mark Rutland. If you're the type of leader that likes to have total control over every aspect of your ministry and your future success, the NICL is right for you!
FREE NICL MINI-COURSE - Enroll for 3-hours of training from Dr. Rutland's full leadership course. Experience the NICL and decide if this training is right for you and your team.Do you feel stuck? Do you feel like you’re not growing? Do you need help from an expert in leadership? There is no other leadership training like the NICL. Gain the leadership skills and confidence you need to lead your church, business or ministry. Get ready to accomplish all of your God-given dreams. CLICK HERE for NICL training dates and details.
The NICL Online is an option for any leader with time or schedule constraints. It's also for leaders who want to expedite their training to receive advanced standing for Master Level credit hours. Work through Dr. Rutland's full training from the comfort of your home or ministry at your pace. Learn more about NICL Online. Learn more about NICL Online.