Vision, Why You Must Share It Often (and how)!
One of the most exciting and meaningful things we do as pastors is to set the vision for our church.
It’s probably, I’d guess, one of the things that even drove you to ministry. You saw other churches and admired them, but knew you wanted to do things differently. We never truly reinvent the wheel as pastors, as we all abide by the message of the gospel, but we each do feel like God has given us a direct focus to pursue in our own churches. So you created your own church in order to follow God’s calling and bring your vision to life.
But just because that vision lives in your head and heart doesn’t mean everyone in your congregation knows it, let alone embraces it. In order for your vision to really take flight, it’s got to be communicated - often. I recently went through this process with my own church, so it’s all fresh in my mind. Here’s what I learned about what it takes to do this well.
Keep your values updated and visible
Starting in the early days of my church, I made a point to set core values and keep those front and center in everything we did. We have eight of them, all rooted in scripture, and they’re clearly and prominently posted on our walls. This helps anyone who enters our doors know what we stand for and what we believe. It also helps remind people why we exist, and what makes us different from other churches.
It also helps people know our boundaries. For example, someone asked me years ago if we would do an anti-abortion fundraiser at the church. While I personally know the sanctity of life and champion the importance of pro-life initiatives, I knew we had multiple women within our church who had gone through this experience. I felt that holding this fundraiser could alienate them, which flies in the face of our mission to provide shelter to those who are in need, who have experienced rejection, who are in need of the message of Grace and who have been wounded in church. So I let this person know that I valued what they were doing, but that we would not be holding the fundraiser at our church because it didn’t further our vision.
Dedicate a month to sharing your vision
Integrated with our core values is my vision for the church. Specifically, we want to use the strong to provide shelter for the weak. So I see the role of a seasoned believer to be part of the shelter by either receiving shelter or providing it. And in many cases, they can do both simultaneously. I believe this is possible because as we are a body we have strengths that can be given know matter what life circumstance we are in. And we want everyone who enters our church to feel that shelter and know they’ve found a safe place.
To make sure I adequately painted the picture of this vision to my church members, I set aside all of our Sunday messages in the month of May to center on it. Every week, I covered two core values. For example, one week I touched on “we above me” and “hospitality matters,” emphasizing how we aim to bring glory to God first and foremost while humbling ourselves and serving others. I went in-depth on each value, and how it tied into the greater vision of providing shelter, as well as how these values look in action.
By sharing your vision as a pastor in this way, you’re blessing your congregation and ultimately making less work for yourself. Clarity in where you’re heading, and in what you believe, helps church members understand what you will and won’t do. For instance, some folks in my church were waiting for me to preach a political message from the stage. But once I revisited our core values, and my vision, it was clear to them that I was not going to take a political stance.
I remember the Sunday where I preached a sermon from 1 Peter 2:11-16 and named it “ Make Your America Great Again.” It flipped the script from politics to truly seeing how we as believers are supposed to look at ourselves as foreigners/aliens and take on the responsibility of impacting the culture around us. By preaching this message of accountability and flying clear of hot topic political jargon I reinforced alignment with our vision and prevented discord.
Make it a regular topic of conversation
Once the month of focus on our vision was over, I didn’t stop talking about it. In fact, every Sunday I find a way to mention one of our core values that’s applicable to the message I’m preaching. This weaves our vision into the fabric of all our communication, and keeps it top of mind. I also spend time discussing all of this with our leaders, and making sure they’re comfortable talking about our values and vision. This is the best way to be sure everyone is on the same page and moving our vision forward, together.
So let me ask you… Is it time to revisit your core values and church vision? I’ve found that sometimes pastors are worried about sharing their vision because they think it might pigeonhole them into a repetitive mantra, or get concerned they can’t back up their vision with their decisions.
But it’s time to challenge yourself. I invite you to pursue boldness. Confidently declare your vision, and let the chips fall as they may. Doing so might mean some people leave your church. And that’s okay. What matters most is that you’re rising to the occasion of God’s calling in your life, and holding true to the way in which you’ve been led to further the gospel.