We are in a fascinating time at CA Church.
When we celebrated our 40th anniversary in 2015, we released a God-given audacious 2020 Vision – a document that will guide us over the next 5 years of our church’s ministry. This 2020 Vision includes faith goals that only God will be able to accomplish. Some of these goals include 365 conversions and baptisms by 2020 (one person for everyday), an expanded Mariner campus (building project), dozens of leaders developed through our leadership development programs, and giving $1 million to missions in 2020.
It was an exciting time releasing the vision and there was a momentum that followed as everyone dreamed about what the future could hold. Unfortunately, there was also a collective gulp from the staff as we realized what this meant for our church and ministry.
We are almost a year to the date since we released this 2020 Vision. I’d like to share a few of my takeaways about the power of vision, the problems it has caused, and challenge you to ask God to do the impossible in your church.
Strategy Trumps Vision. The “gulp” we experienced surrounded the “how is this going to happen?” question. An audacious vision is easy to put together, getting there is more difficult. Everyone will agree on the vision, but articulating a strategy will cause division (“What? We are cancelling the knitting ministry?!”). We are still solidifying our answer to this question a year after our vision was released.
Vision Clarifies. Every New Testament church is charged with doing the same things: preaching, taking care of the poor, making disciples – all of this we can agree on. But what does this look like in your local context? It seems that in ministry every option is a good option, but by articulating objective goals, it allows you to focus in on what you will do. It creates a grid where you can say “Yes” and “No” to seemingly all good options. This has helped us bring alignment throughout our ministries (with more work to do).
You Value What You Measure. In our context we value evangelism, local and global missions, leadership development, and sacrificial giving and service. Because we value these things, they are all on our dashboard with attached metrics. What are you measuring weekly, monthly, and annually at your church? Your dashboard tells you what you value – make sure they are the right things.
Vision is Humbling. Any thoughtful leader realizes that the vision is bigger than them – that it can’t be achieved through great preaching or moving worship experiences. This vision has humbled our staff and led us to passionate and purposeful prayer times.
Leading Change is Difficult. We all know that leadership is hard, but this past year has been the most difficult of my ministry. We have had to make painful decisions with staff, budget, and ministries. But I can say confidently that by God’s grace and through intentional leadership, today we are closer to meeting the vision than we were a year ago.
Do you have a compelling vision that you are laying before your congregation every week? If not, this is something I strongly recommend to you. As we strive to make Jesus known in our cities, let’s step out in courageous faith and leadership and ask God to do the impossible.
My hunch is that church leaders don’t start in ministry hoping for small, faithless, and achievable outcomes. Rather, we want to be storytellers of how our powerful and sovereign God has gone before us and done what we could only dream of. So, get together and start praying big and dreaming big, asking God what His plan is for your church.