How Critical is it to have an articulate written out statement of VISION for the local church?

Often when I do leadership training events I give participants seveal 3×5 cards to use to submit questions to me at any time during the days we are together. These often help me customize and adjust presentations. I find that often one written question echos the thoughts of many in the same event.

ANSWER TO THE QUESTION OF WRITTEN VISION STATEMENTS
Everywhere I go churches are working on mottos, vision statements, mission, core values, foundational beliefs, strategic plans — the list goes on and on. I also see confusion and wasted time debating definitions for the above terms. When I work with a church or parachurch organization I try to absorb their language and not introduce more confusion or complicate the communication.

But as I look through the Bible I observe the following:
1. God calls his people individually and in groups to walk by faith with Him.
2. The walk often involves a journey or tasks to accomplish together with God doing the heavy lifting and His children responding to His lead.
3. Often faith comes in as essential because God does not provide “up front” information on the destination, how resources will be provided, how barriers will be removed, etc., As they take the next step He calls them to — more provision becomes available.

So — how do we live this out? Let’s think of it as taking a journey with God.
He give us a COMPASS –– These fixed points orient our maps and give us clarity and priority on what to do. These days we often debate the purposes of the church as a good summary of the compass readings that set our direction. These would be the same for all of the church. In Robertson’s McQuilkin Five Smooth Stones: Essential Biblical Principles for Ministry he uses these five:

Worship
Instruction
Fellowship or Community
Evangelism NEAR & FAR
Compassionate Service

He helps us draw MAPS As much as I enjoy on-line directions I still need to call AAA and get a new city map for the places where I train and coach. WHY? A good map helps me understand the specific big picture of where I will be. I must use the compass laying on the map to orient it — but the map for a ministry helps it identify where it contributes specifically to what God is doing in that area at that time. Maps need to be updated because the context where a specific church is located changes. Maps help us plot out and understand the next destination we are approaching in our journey with God. Often God reveals what the unique contribution of a church will be by the people He clusters together. For example: A church in Florida receives missionaries back from the Arab world because of health issues and then discovers that there is a growing Arab Muslim community in the circle of influence of this same congregation. Do you think God might be providing kingdom resources for a kingdom impact? Should this shape the “map” for this church? I think it fits the compass points well. I think this could be God.

Driving Directions help me make minute by minute decisions. They are tactical, detail plans for the living well in the present moment. At West Point I am told they instruct all of their officers in training that it is good to develop a plan before going into battle — but NO PLAN SURVIVES CONTACT WITH THE ENEMY. Every officer must be prepared to constantly replan the plan once the battle begins. Ministry requires the same fluid, on-going, adjustment, and change to be effective.

A relevant, updated map and freshly drafted driving directions help the ministry prioritize choices and clearly prune and say, “No” to many opportunities in order to respond to God’s leading in the journey.

There are two truths held in tension when leaders capture, clarify and communicate vision. #1. There are some things that are true for every Christian or every Church. As mentioned above biblical purpose is clearly defined. God does tell us certain ways he wants us to choose and be that align with who we are as his people.

But the other truth that holds this one in tension is #2. Everything God makes alive he makes one of a kind. There is a uniqueness of individuals and congregations. We are a unique mix. Think of a child’s coloring book. The black outline on the page of flowers and a dog are the same in every book. But each person will select different colors to fill it in. Vision for our life or ministry looks like the colored picture; a joyful celebration of God’s clear direction with a beautiful diversity of creative life.

What are your thoughts?

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