One of the most important things a senior pastor can do is cast vision to the church.
In fact, it's what of the two things senior pastors should never delegate. (The other is financial stewardship.)
Andy Stanley says vision is mental picture of what could be fueled by some passion of what should be. As a pastor, you have a God-given burden for the local church. The challenge comes in getting it out of your heart and into the hearts and minds of the people.
Getting a vision is one thing…communicating vision effectively is another.
Church members and attenders are not going to drift into clarity. People in the church need continual reminders about why the church exists and where the church is going.
If you’re relying on Vision Sunday or a Vision Statement or an email reminder every now and then, you’re missing great opportunities to help the church stay on mission. You’ve got to cast vision all year long using multiple channels. And in a way people can understand and follow.
That’s a tall order. So here are five practical tips to help you take action.
- Make it specific.
One of the biggest differences between mission and vision is that vision should be specific. In a way, your ultimate purpose and mission as a church (to make disciples of all the world) will never be accomplished. But your vision should have a deadline.
When you’re casting vision, people need to know where they are going right now. They need to know what the next milestone is. And it needs to be close enough so they can see it.
“Reach people” isn’t a clear mission. “Reach 100 teenagers by the end of the year” is specific. It’s really hard for people to get excited about a generic vision, and it’s tough for people to wrap their minds about what it looks like.
NewSpring Church has a vision to reach 100,000 people. That’s a specific number and they talk about it all the time.
- Tell stories.
Story-telling is one of the most important tools available to any communicator. Read through the messages of Jesus and you’ll find story after story.
That’s why when you cast vision, you need to use stories. Don’t just give the facts (those may inform), but tell the stories (those will inspire). Don’t just give the stats (there are 732 kids at that high school), tell Katie’s story (she went on a mission trip).
That’s why testimonies and videos are so powerful. They are people’s life stories. Create space in your services and programming and communication to tell them. And once they are told, say “That’s why we do what we do.”
Donors need to hear stories that connect their donation to the vision. Volunteers need to hear stories that remind them that what they do makes a personal difference.
- Paint pictures.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, make sure you’re illustrating your vision with pictures. When you’re talking about life change, put pictures of families or baptism or worship on the screen. If you're communicating in print, invest in meaningful graphics or icons that tell a story.
Too many times, we just use words when pictures would do the job better.
One of the best ways to do this is to hang posters and banners around your church. A giant picture of someone being baptized with your vision statement is a great way to remind people what’s really important.
- Be consistent.
Too many leaders relegate the vision talk to one specific Sunday of the year. But that’s not enough.
You’ve got to talk about the vision for the church over and over again. Just when you think you’ve beat it to death is the moment people begin to understand it’s important.
One of the best ways to do this is “by the way” statements in your message. When you get to a passage of Scripture that sets up your mission, work it in.
Let’s say you’re preaching on the family. That would be a great time to say, “By the way, this is why we invest so much in the next generation around here. It’s why we invest an unusual amount of resources in Student Impact, because we’re praying that God would allow us to reach 100 students by the end of the year.”
Really unpack the mission, vision and strategy once or twice a year, but never let a week go by when you’re not casting vision.
- Be everywhere.
For most pastors, preaching is the primary way to communication vision. But that leaves so much opportunity on the table. Will Mancini says preaching shouldn’t even be the primary vehicle for vision casting.
How else can you do it?
- Put your vision statement in your email signature.
- Work it into that hand-written note you send to first time guests.
- Let it be the opening paragraph of your donor update.
- Say it in a fresh way every time you do the welcome in your church service.
- Start and finish your new member class with vision.
Cast vision in every communication channel available to you.
When you have one-on-one meetings with people, cast vision. When you explain the offering in the church service, cast vision. When you write that email update to the church, cast vision.
Casting vision isn’t just a Sunday thing…it’s an everyday, everywhere thing.
So What's Next?
Feel like your church should be growing, but it's not? From someone who used to be a pastor and church planter, I know it can be frustrating.
Ultimately, church growth is up to God. But are we doing everything we can to ensure our church is healthy? How do we overcome the barriers we feel are in front of us?
We know you care deeply about leading a healthy growing church because it means leading more people to Jesus. As a result we created a free guide to breaking barriers that will bring clarity and help begin to alleviate your frustrations.
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