by David Roadcup
The ability to craft and utilize a compelling vision is one of the cornerstones in the life of an effective church.
What is vision? It is developing the ability to see what is not yet there. It is seeing things as they could be through God’s eyes. It is looking beyond where our church is at the present and asking, “What does God want to see happen in the life of our church in the future?” The ability to proactively move to develop a workable vision and then communicate that vision to your congregation members, leading them to buy into that vision, is a crucial step to moving a church forward.
A very important question: What part does an elder play in determining the vision of a church?
First, we must ask another question: Who determines the vision of a congregation? There can be a variety of views on this issue. It is only logical to respond to this question in this manner: in most cases the lead minister (senior minister, preaching minister, etc.) of the organization should be the “tip of the spear” when it comes to vision casting. A good lead minister will always seek the Lord in prayer for the vision for his church. In addition to prayer, the lead minister should consult with his staff and the elder team when setting the vision. This process should always be a collaborative process initiated by the Lead Minister. All key leadership individuals (paid pastoral staff and elders) should have input into the development of the stated, written and communicated vision.
In bringing input and ideas to the vision casting table, let me encourage every elder to keep the following in mind:
- Vision should be determined through the direction of the Word of God and prayer. All we strive to accomplish should be directed by God’s Word and prayer. We know from Scripture that God’s will is very clear about our ultimate vision. The Great Commission (Matt.28:18-20) indicates that our ultimate goal is to win those who are lost and outside of Christ, to immerse them and nurture them to a healthy level of spiritual maturity. This work is to be done here at home and around the world in every country, city and village. It is as clear as that. Winning the lost and nurturing the saved, here at home and around the world, is our primary objective.
- Key leaders create and agree on the vision. The Lead Minister propels this effort. He must lead in this area. But as an elder, know that you should be able and encouraged to make a contribution to this process. Here is an effective question that every elder should ask himself when vision-casting: If money were no object (if a church had all the money it needed – an unlimited supply), what would you like to see happen in your church? What would we do when it comes to evangelism? What would we do in terms of our youth ministries? What would we do when considering our missions outreach and urban evangelism? What would we do for the marriages in our congregation? in other words, if the sky was the limit, where would we like to see our church in 5 years if we were truly accomplishing our vision and mission? I truly believe that as the leadership team of the church, we should dream big! We should ask the Lord to show up powerfully – undeniably – in our church.
- We communicate the vision to the church. The vision we believe God has given us for our church then needs to be communicated to the body through a series of sermons, the church’s bulletins, newsletters, etc. We make sure that everyone in the church knows the vision of the church and will come on board in executing that vision through our staff, finances, prayers, buildings and ministries.
Elders, as a main part of the leadership team, should participate in the vision casting of their church. THrough prayer and collaboration, a Holy Spirit led vision can be clarified and accomplished!