Whether it's across the table with another church leader, at a planning retreat, or talking to the whole churchevery time you talk about what could be and should be, you're casting vision.
For instance, every one of the newsletter articles that I send out to our church is vision oriented. I don't write devotional thoughtsthose I can give on Sundays. If people are going to read a newsletter, I want every article to remind them of our mission and vision.
When we talk about the vision, it needs to be in a way that's clear and compelling to those we are addressing. Three components help me keep the vision compelling:
- Define the problem. You must ask the question, What problem is my organization attempting to solve? There is something that will not get done if we don't do it. If we don't do what we do, there's a group of people that won't be reached. When you talk about vision, you need to begin by talking about why your church exists. What is the problem that God has called you to solve?
- Offer a solution. Your vision is the solution to a problem, and when you can couple a problem that people feel emotionally with a clear solution, you are on your way to capturing their hearts. Then you can also capture a piece of their time and effort. Is your vision for your church a solution to a problem?
- Present an urgent reason. In other words, answer the questions, Why must we do this? And why must we do it now?
I'll never forget when we started North Point. Most of the people who came to our initial meeting about starting a church passed about a dozen churches on their way. What do you say when you stand up in front of those people and tell them about starting another church?
Some natural questions have to be faced: Why in the world are you starting another church? What is it that's not being done that needs to be done? What can we do about it? And why are we the ones to move in that direction?
So I talked about the need for "relevant environments" where lost and disillusioned people could connect with their Heavenly Father. I explained that it wasn't God who turned people off, it was usually a person's previous experiences with the church. Our vision was to create a safe, relevant place for lost people and Christians to bring their lost friends. The reason for the now was simply the urgency for people to come to Christ, not knowing when he will return.
I had to answer those questions so clearly that everybody who heard me talk about starting this church knew "Andy's going to do it anyway."
With clear answers to those questions, something comes alive in people, and the vision drives them to contribute their time, talents, and treasure.
If you can develop a phrase that you can say over and over to your people, whether it's across the lunch table or in your sermons, then you are on your way to casting vision.
At North Point, we put it this way: "Our mission is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ by creating environments where people are encouraged and equipped to pursue intimacy with God, community with insiders, and influence with outsiders."
Learn to Live It
Your willingness to embody the vision of your organization has a direct impact on your credibility as a leader. The moment you begin to look for ways to celebrate something that's not happening in your own life, people will know. One of the things that my wife Sandra and I are committed to is developing relationships with unchurched friends.
My oldest son, Andrew, is 11. He was selected to be on an All-Star baseball team this spring. This community baseball team was our mission field, and we were there to be an influence, to connect with and pray for the kids on the team and their parents.