God has a specific plan for a specific church in a specific place at a specific time. He has a preferred future for your church and a plan for you to follow. Jeremiah 29:11 says, ”For I know the plans I have for you . . . plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” This passage is not speaking directly to a church but it does describe our God who is always focusing his people on the future.
Someone has said, “Learn from the past, hope for the future, and live in the present.”
John Kotter speaks to having a process that is forward focused, “Leadership is about setting a direction. It’s about creating a vision, empowering and inspiring people to want to achieve the vision, and enabling them to do so with energy and speed through an effective strategy. In its most basic sense, leadership is about mobilizing a group of people to jump into a better future.”
Jesus, the leader of all leaders, said in John 14:12, “I assure you: The one who believes in me will do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these.”
Our hope is in Christ and hope is always looking forward and moving forward. Mission is your compass which keeps you moving toward God’s true north: Go and make disciples! Vision is the travel brochure that describes a clear picture of God’s preferred future for his church. That vision develops through a process as we seek God and discover his heart for the church in which we have been placed for such a time as this. The vision should consume us as it moves from what we should be doing to where it becomes what we must do. Vision produces the following action:
#1 Personal Prayer: First we must seek God through a season of intentional personal prayer. A vision is born in the heart of one who desires what God wants more than any particular personal preferences. Consider setting aside a week or even two to spend extra time in prayer seeking to discern the Lord’s direction. Spend time fasting and plan a prayer retreat where you ask God for clarity of vision and the courage to follow through on what he says. Begin praying for him to provide a coalition of the willing to help you move that vision forward.
#2 Corporate Prayer: After you have personally spent an intentional time in prayer ask your leaders and team to join you in a season of prayer. If you prayed for a week then ask them to spend two weeks in prayer individually and also schedule times to pray together. Do not bypass this process! Refuse to move forward until this has been accomplished. Ask everyone for a minimum of an extra 15 minutes every day to pray specifically on what God is revealing to you about the preferred future for your church. Ask your team and leaders to pray for clarity and unity.
#3 Brainstorming: Now it is time to begin brainstorming. During this season of individual and group prayer make sure that you journal and take notes about where you believe God is leading your church. Pray for discernment on what is a passing thought and what might be something to hold on to because of the Holy Spirit’s nudge. What is it that you cannot get off your mind? What is captivating your heart? What is the Holy Spirit continuing to emphasize? What do you go to bed dreaming about and what do you get up in the morning focused on? Write it down.
Through prayerful planning you can be confident that your vision will be God-initiated. Get the team together with a whiteboard and begin to share God-sized dreams of how your church can carry out Jesus’ Great Commission. Does it tie to God’s mission? Does it ring true with everyone on the team? Does it require a big step of faith? Does it inspire and create passion? Does it move everyone to action? Consider doing a S.W.O.T. analysis where you have four quadrants that address what your Strengths are, what you Weaknesses are, what Opportunities you have, and what Threats there are to the vision.
Consider who God has given you in your congregation and how they fit into the big picture. God gave you people for a reason, and part of this journey is equipping them by helping them to better understand how God S.H.A.P.E.d them. What are their Spiritual gifts and have they recognized them? What are they passionate about and what has captivated their Hearts? What distinct Abilities do they have that could be leveraged for the sake of the gospel? Do they understand their God-given Personalities so they can relate to others better?
Lastly, do not forget about their Experiences, because their background, upbringing, education, job, and everyday life experiences, good and bad, can be great inroads to ministries such as Marriage Enrichment, Celebrate recovery, foster care, and many others. Second Corinthians 1:4 reminds us that, “He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
Look for part two of “7 Steps to Determine Your Church’s Vision” tomorrow.
Copyright © 2021 by Larry Barker @ https://healthychurchpodcast.com/. No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from Lifeword.org.