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Understanding Vision

What is vision? In today’s climate, the word is used in so many different ways one can find it frustrating to wade through all the definitions. So even my title might cause you to raise an eyebrow in suspicion.

For this moment, let’s define vision as the central focus of your church. What is it that we are all about? Think about the guy who sits on row five in your sanctuary each week. If someone asked him what your church is all about, what would you want him to say?

You see, many vision statements offer a generic corporate expression that sounds good, but doesn’t motivate anybody. Other statements work hard to include everything the organization does so there is really no emphasis given to any specific activity. Still others chose big ideas that underscore the mission, but the statements are so broad that they could never eliminate unproductive activity. So if you have one of these kind of statements, the guy on row five probably will shrug his shoulders when asked about your vision, ’cause whatever you might have told him didn’t stick.

The best statements of vision center on the main thing that drives the church. They shout that one priority, that one focal point, that one goal that motivates us every week. For some it’s “love people” or “changed lives” or “demonstrating grace” or “investing in the next generation” or some other Gospel idea that lets everyone know what you can expect when you walk in our doors.

Lack of vision is often the culprit in the plateaued church. Now when I say that, I can picture a pastor bristling at the implication. But, plateaus come, not because the pastor lacks vision, but because the person in the pew either doesn’t know the vision or has yet to connect with its sense of direction. If the guy on row five doesn’t know why we gather each week, its highly unlikely that he will bring his friends into the same uncertainty.

But when the vision is clear, it motivates that guy’s attendance, participation, enthusiasm, and even his giving. When we know the “why” of our efforts, passion can begin to develop, and we can even become really good at what we do.

Vision in the pew will drive a church through a plateau barrier. As people find their church’s reason-for-being, they have the opportunity to champion that cause in every area of their lives. That focus will change the environment of the local church.

Here’s a tip: State your vision in the language of the guy on row five. Better yet, make sure it would make sense to the unchurched guy when he visits. The Gospel Jesus taught us impacted people on the street and was free of the “church house language” only an insider would understand.

Find your vision. Then say it simply, say it with power…and say it a lot!

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