The topic of discovering God’s vision for your church has been discussed time and again in numerous books, blog posts, and verbal conversations. So, why bring it up again in yet another blog post? I believe it is important because, even with the vast supply of resources on the topic, very few pastors and/or churches have a vision for their future.
I believe that many have been taught that vision is a mystical revelation from God. So, we pray and wait. We pray some more and wait some more. The result is that most pastors have no vision for their church. Add to this the truth of the scripture in Proverbs 29:18 regarding the lack of vision and we are hounded by the fact that if we can’t find a vision for our church, then the people will perish. So, we pray some more and wait some more and most times come up empty, without a clear vision for the future of our church.
Is there a simpler way to discover God’s vision for your church that you can begin to implement right now? The good news is…THERE IS! Will Mancini calls it the “Kingdom Concept” and Thom Rainer calls it the “Vision Intersection Profile.” No matter what you call it, the concept is simple, direct, and enables every pastor and church to find a God-given vision for their ministry, their church, and their future.
The process is found in the diagram above. There are three basic areas that you need to explore.
- The LEADERSHIP – what are the passions, skills, gifts, and abilities of the leadership team? The leadership could include the pastor and pastoral staff. If you are a solo pastor or bi-vocational pastor, then you can include the church board in the leadership circle above. However you define it, take time to list ALL of the passions, skills, spiritual gifts, and abilities of the leadership of your church. This list should be as long as you can make it. Don’t take any shortcuts, but fill it out completely.
- The CONGREGATION – what are the passions, skills, gifts, and abilities of the congregation? This includes everyone in your church that is not included in the leadership as you have defined it above. Take time to list ALL of the passions, skills, spiritual gifts, and abilities of the congregation. I would suggest asking your leadership team to brainstorm what this list should include based upon their knowledge of the people within your congregation. As above, this list should be as long as you can make it – don’t take any shortcuts. For those of you who would like an in-depth look into your congregation, check out some of the resources listed in my posts “4 Things Every Pastor and Church Leader Should Know About Themselves” and “Do You Know Your APEST Score?
- The COMMUNITY – what are the needs within your community? This list should not be brainstormed by your leadership team, but should be based upon facts and data. Meet with strategic community leaders such as school officials, the police chief, the mayor, and others. These people will give you a feel for the needs in the local community without the bias of looking through “church eyes” and guessing what the unchurched in the community really need. Another beneficial tool is to do a community demographic analysis. The best resource that I have used in this area is the “Ministry Area Profile” by the Percept Group (www.perceptgroup.com and www.ministryarea.com). I have found the Ministry Area Profile to be exceptional in helping our church understand our community.
After you have completed your 3 lists, compare your answers. Lay your three lists side-by-side on your desk or post them on your wall (literal wall, not online). As you read through each of your lists you will begin to see similar items on each list. Every time you see a related item that appears on all three lists, circle it. Once you have finished this exercise, make a new list of your circled items.
What you have just discovered is your strategic position, or VISION for your church. This list of circled items represents where the leadership passion, congregational abilities, and community needs overlap. This is your area of vision – where God has placed the leadership and the church and given both the abilities to meet the needs of the community.
Spend time in prayer as you go over your list and ask God to help you prioritize what He would have your church to do first – then get to work on living out the vision God has given to you!
Disclaimer: I fully believe that in certain circumstances God does give a mystical revelation to his chosen leader for the vision of the local church. However, I also believe that God has given us the tools and intellectual ability to discover the vision as well. The important thing it to seek God’s guidance throughout the entire process. Whether He reveals it to you through divine revelation or through the process outlined above, rest assured that you have discovered God’s unique vision for your church. What you do with that vision is up to you. Just get started!!!