Practical Vision Development – Part I
Vision. Every advance of the gospel is first a vision in the mind and heart of one person. “Israel’s leaders took charge, and the people gladly followed. Praise the LORD!” is stated in Judges 5:2. However if the vision is to be gladly followed, it must be shared and owned by others. Most believers find direction for their lives by embracing a vision that God has given to someone else. In the end it doesn’t matter who had the original vision, because it is jointly owned by all.
How does vision become practical and strategic? This is an article about how a church planting vision moves beyond an idea in the planter’s heart and becomes practical and strategic. Nehemiah wrote in detail how he received the vision and how he put it into practical, programmatic action. If it is not practical and strategic others will become frustrated and find it hard to support the vision, even if the planter is a gifted leader. Tell someone to do something without giving them the tools to do it, and they will end up defeated and frustrated. For example, tell Christians they should evangelize without giving them a practical tool to do it…it defeats them. They already feel bad for not evangelizing.
Write the vision statement down first. The practical strategy will come later. Make it plain and simple. So that whomever reads it can get on board and run with it. Although you might have a ton of impactful ideas about all that can be outworked from the vision, the actual statement must be written in one sentence…and easily understood. Don’t confuse call and vision. Call is one a one-time thing…”I am called to plant a church”. Vision is specific and distinctive to your church plant. What terminology that is used is important. New terms are good and help to frame an idea. Give people a challenge. Why? Because people respond to a challenge!
Next the vision has to be tested. Step out in faith as God opens doors and begin to test whether the vision has God’s blessing. It must be bigger than you. Test the vision privately with peers. This gets the self out of it. Vision must meet a human need for others to rally to it. It must help people. Compassion gets people on board. So developing the “why” of the vision is essential.
Pray and fast for the process. Nehemiah sat down and was moved by the need. He wept and fasted. Every vision is both supernatural and natural. We plan the natural part and pray for God to do the supernatural part. For Nehemiah, he led and planned for the people to build the wall in natural and it led to spiritual revival among the children of Israel. Since Nehemiah is the last chronological book in the Old Testament that means the Old Testament closes with revival because of his efforts.
Next get an accurate starting point for your vision. Nehemiah inspected the wall himself. He surveyed the need personally to be sure he had an accurate assessment. Realistic assessment is essential for eventual success. In his book Good to Great, Jim Collins says knowing “the cold, hard facts” is crucial to success, even the ones that are not favorable. If you want to fly from London to New York you need to know where you are located to begin your flight. If think you are in London but you are really in Johannesburg, you will end up in Rio de Janeiro instead of New York. Do your study, research and reflection.
In part II we will look at developing a plan.
Brian Sauder currently serves on the International Apostolic Council of DOVE and directs the DOVE Training Schools. He and his wife Janet help to provide oversight and direction for DOVE churches in Canada, USA and South Africa. Brian and Janet have over 25 years of experience in leadership of churches, small groups, youth groups, government and business.