Last year, many churches began 2020 with sermons on vision. The opportunity to preach on "Vision 2020" was too much for many pastors to pass up.
But now, as we head into 2021, many pastors are struggling to cast their vision for the next year.
After the strangest year anyone can remember, they just can't see what's next.
The Bible tells us in Proverbs 29:18a, "Where there is no vision, the people perish." Vision isn't negotiable for church leaders. Your church needs God's vision.
The word "vision" in this verse literally means a dream. You've got to have a dream for your life and for your ministry. Otherwise, your church will just drift. Without a dream for your church, your people will perish.
The Gospels of Luke and Mark tell a story of a blind man, Bartimaeus, that can help us as ministry leaders learn to see again and get God's vision for our ministries, even after all we've experienced in 2020.
Every miracle performed by Jesus teaches us something. In the story of this miracle, we see a five-part process for how we can get our vision back in 2021.
1. Believe Jesus can change the situation. Everything starts with hope. If you don't have hope, you can't cope. You must have hope to change. Real hope begins with believing that Jesus can change your situation.
Bartimaeus demonstrated this from the beginning of the story. When Jesus passed by, the Bible says Bartimaeus called out: "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" (Luke 18:38).
Bartimaeus believed Jesus could help—and would help. Do you?
One of the reasons many church leaders have lost their hope is they're looking in the wrong places for it. Hope for your church can't be found in the latest trends. God is the only source of hope that will never disappoint you.
2. Ignore all the negative voices. When Bartimaeus spoke up, the surrounding people tried to quiet him down. He was just a blind beggar, and Jesus was an important teacher.
Bartimaeus isn't alone. When you start engaging with God about a vision for your church, you'll hear critics. If they don't have a vision themselves, they won't want your church to have one either.
You'll never embrace God's vision for your ministry if you listen to the negative voices. The Bible tells us, "It is dangerous to be concerned with what others think of you" (Prov. 29:25a, GNT). Fearing the opinion of others will disable your emotions. The moment you start wondering what others will think as you embrace God's vision, you're dead in the water.
But the Bible also says, "But if you trust the Lord, you are safe" (Prov. 29:25b). Your only two options as you listen to the opinions of others is fear or faith.
3. Listen for God's call. Mark 10:49 says after Bartimaeus yelled out, Jesus told the others: "Call him." And that's what they did.
Jesus is calling you and your church, too. But you need to listen for it. Calling and vision go together. If you want to know God's vision for the next year, you must embrace his call.
The only question is, will we all pick up the phone? Part of our responsibility as church leaders is to help people understand and pursue God's call for their lives.
Your church can't fulfill God's vision unless your church accepts God's call.
To hear God's call, we need to spend time listening to him.
4. Tell God exactly what you want. Jesus asked Bartimaeus: "'What do you want me to do for you?' 'Lord,' he said, 'I want to see'" (Luke 18:41, CSB). Bartimaeus didn't go into a long speech. He didn't explain why he was blind. He simply told Jesus that he wanted to see.
To get God's vision for your ministry, you need to be clear about your goals.
Spend some time praying about where you want to be in the next year—and in the next decade. Ask God where he wants your church to be as well.
Goals are statements of faith. God loves it when we trust him. When we set goals, we're telling God where we believe he wants us to be, and we're trusting God for that outcome.
Write these goals down. It'll make them more specific and reachable.
5. Receive your vision in faith. Bartimaeus did this. "Jesus said to him, 'Receive your sight. Your faith has saved you' (Luke 18:42, MEV).
When Jesus calls you to fulfill a vision, you do what he calls you to do. You step out in faith and receive the vision he has for you.
Faith is believing what God has told you is true because he is truthful.
It's time to trust God for his vision for 2021. He is the only one who can make it happen.
For the original article, visit pastors.com.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church, one of America's largest and most influential churches. He is the 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. Pastor Rick started The PEACE Plan to show the local church how God works through ordinary people to address the five global giants of spiritual emptiness, self-serving leadership, poverty, disease, and illiteracy. You can listen to Daily Hope, Pastor Rick's daily 25-minute audio teaching, or sign up for his free daily devotionals at pastorrick.com. He is also the founder of pastors.com, a global online community created to encourage pastors.
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