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A Closer Look at Vision

hands holding up letters V-I-S-I-O-NBehold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!

–John 4:35 (NKJV)

Vision is the ability to see where opportunities are. Jesus ministered to a woman in John 4 who would be the key to an incredible citywide revival. He wanted His disciples to have this same kind of vision.

Vision is necessary to lead Christ’s church in health and growth. As pastors and leaders we have been taught this for many years, so we dutifully craft a vision for our ministry. Too often these masterpieces we labor over bring no measurable results. What is wrong?

Many experts have written on this subject. Whole books and classes are devoted to help us be more visionary as leaders. I offer to you a simple checklist. Make sure your ministry vision lines up with these basic guidelines.

Many leaders ask the Lord for a fresh word or vision at the start of each new year. This is a wonderful time to make sure you indeed have the heart of God for your ministry at this time!

1. Vision Is More than Mission

Rick Warren identified five purposes for churches and individuals: fellowship, discipleship, worship, ministry (service), and evangelism. These five purposes constitute the mission of every church. Too many vision statements simply list two or three of the purposes.

There are two problems with simply rewording the purposes of the church:

  • Only list two or three devalues the other purposes which are equally as important.
  • We wind up describing the mission without showing what it will look like in our unique setting.

Ask yourself, “Does my vision statement do more than simply describe the mission of every church?”

2. Vision Is Greater than a Motto

Too many vision statements are nothing more than a marketing tool — a slogan which sounds a little slicker than any other church in town. Don’t get me wrong. It’s great to be “a going church for a coming Lord,” but who are we going to or where are we going?

Marketing slogans have their place. They attract or catch the attention of people who are not familiar with our church. However, vision is more important since it tells us who to go after and how to reach them.

3. Vision Is Specific

We are commissioned to preach to everyone and make disciples of all we can. Usually that means that our churches will focus on some specific demographic — a target audience. As Jesus taught His disciples to catch men, He also helped them catch fish on two occasions. Just putting a net in the sea is not nearly as effective as putting the net in the right location at the right time!

A clear vision should target specific lost people. Start with a neighborhood before you try for the city. Identify a group of people that need the Lord — a group that He has equipped you to reach such as young families, hurting individuals, addicts, professionals, etc.

Your vision will also provide answers for effective timing and methods. Vision answers at least some of the questions of who, when, and how.

Why is better to be specific? Only when we are specific can we set goals. Goals are the logical next step of a clear vision, and the only way we can measure progress on vision is to reach goals.

Take-away

Is your vision fresh and current? Do you see clearly see who God has called and equipped you to reach? Do you have a plan to reach and disciple them? Is it working?

I pray the Lord’s blessings as you seek Him fresh and new. May He grant you tremendous fruit in the Kingdom!

Image (c) Can Stock Photo / Nelosa

Stuart Sherrill

Written by : Stuart Sherrill

Bishop Stuart Sherrill is superintendent of the Heartland Conference IPHC, and is a church planter and former Discipleship Ministries Director. He and his wife Sheri have four children who are all serving the Lord. The recent addition of their first grandchild makes life complete.

The Sherrills enjoy visiting Heartland churches and cheering on our pastors, families, members as well as hosting conference events that bring all of our churches together!