Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so he may run who reads it. ~ Habakkuk 2:2
It is possible that you are saying to yourself, “Yet another article on the importance of vision to the local church.” I get it. Trust me, I get it. I said the same thing aloud when I was prompted to write this article. Then I came to the realization that the reason there are so many things written about vision, and the reason that I am okay with adding yet another article to the pile, is that vision is vitally important. As local church leaders it is possible for us to underestimate the importance of vision until, due to a lack of vision, we’ve veered far off course. If that sounds right to you, then I encourage you to read on.
Church life without vision is like a rudderless ship. In fact, life in general is aimless without vision. We all need vision. Individuals need vision, families need vision, ministries need vision, churches need vision, denominations need vision, businesses need vision, countries need vision. The importance of vision is why wives ask husbands for vision, congregations ask pastors for vision, and employees seek vision from their employers. Everyone has a desire to know where they are headed. Vision is vital to success, and visionless churches typically suffer loss. As a church leader I spend a great deal of my time either contemplating vision, sharing vision, or planning strategy as a result of vision. Here are five things that a church without vision loses.
1. The church loses a picture of what the intended end will be
Vision provides a picture of what the intended end will be. The main purpose and strength of vision is that it provides a clear picture of an expected or intended end. Vision has to provide a “clear picture” in order to be effective. When vision provides such a picture it serves as a solid foundation for planning and operational decisions. Without a clearly articulated vision people, families, and churches often find themselves reacting to the things going on around them, rather than deliberately moving toward a destination.
2. The church loses a powerful rallying point
Vision serves as a rallying cry. When a clearly stated vision begins to spread it draws people. Think of vision like the marquee on a bus. When people know the intended destination of the bus, as stated on the marquee, everyone climbs aboard. People are hesitant to climb aboard a bus that doesn’t clearly articulate its final destination.
3. The church loses a source of stability
Vision brings comfort and stability. Continuing with the bus analogy for a moment, when people get on a bus and know the destination they are more at ease during the travel. The first thing that people do if they climb on a bus without knowing the destination (no vision has been articulated on the marquee) is ask where the bus is headed. Vision allows the people following to trust that they are in the right place. They can find comfort in knowing that they are on board with an entity (person, family, church, ministry, or business) that is headed to a place they also desire to go.
4. The church loses the focal point of planning
Vision precedes planning. If you don’t know the ultimate destination then planning is at best premature and at worst a waste of time. Once I know the destination then I am able to map out the route and detail what it will take to get there (resources, help, etc.).
5. The church loses a key decision making tool
Vision helps separate the good from the great. Once I know the destination I need something to help me stay on the right path. A leader needs something to help differentiate between something a path that seems good and one that is great. The great path is the one that most directly leads to the intended destination. There are many paths that lead to any single destination, and each path has its own highs and lows, pitfalls and oases. Only one path can be taken or followed at any given moment. How does a leader choose? Vision can help.
Once the importance of vision is understood, the process to discern a vision for ministry is important. In the part 2 we will talk about the steps to discern a vision for ministry.
Question: How much time do you spend on vision related activities? Do you agree that vision is vitally important to the success of local church mission? You can leave a comment by clicking here. You can leave a comment by clicking here.