Rev. Mitchell Maloney, Senior Pastor, North Cleveland (TN) Church of God
When you hear a pastor or other church leader talk about vision, what do you think? Do you think they have lost touch with reality? Or perhaps they are preparing to lighten your wallet! We hear so much about “vision” we really wonder what people mean by it.
Vision is a serious matter; consider the following:
Vision Comes From God
Vision is related to prophecy; it is what God sees to be your future and the future of your church. Because it comes from God, it is first and foremost God-centered. Its purpose is to glorify God. Vision is not constrained by time and it must come from a spiritual view as opposed to a secular pattern of success (1 Corinthians 3:19).
It is birthed from prayer. If we do not communicate with God, how can we know what is on His mind? Vision may be revealed in parts; but it requires a leader who receives these parts and continues to seek God until the vision is complete. As the vision is received it must be written down. Vision is not just copied from another successful church or ministry. God has a plan and vision for each denomination, church and individual.
The purpose of vision is to help create a God-inspired future. Since God holds our future; don’t you think He has a plan for us when we get there? Also, a true vision generally outlasts the visionary.
Vision Requires a Leader
One of the main differences between vision and prophecy is that prophecy needs a prophet to speak for God; vision requires a leader to act for God. The leader is charged to carry out the vision; and this must be done with the help of others.
All real leaders are visionaries. When a leader receives a vision he or she seeks wise counsel to confirm and understand the vision that God has given (Proverbs 15:22).
Once a leader has received and pondered a vision, he (or she) develops a strategy to implement the vision. The leader then communicates the vision to others. God spent 1200 years setting forth His agenda in the Word, which is public; why should we rely on a hidden agenda now?
Although getting anything started may seem the hardest part, the implementation is always more difficult than the formulation. A leader takes risks to carry out the vision that God has given. Taking those risks is called faith. During implementation of a vision, a leader will be
sometimes tried by fire. A true visionary will never allow temporary setbacks to hinder the completion of the vision. It will come to pass . . . it just takes time.
Vision Requires Followers
The Lay Coordinator is “the pastor’s partner” and as such is certainly a leader. The Lay Coordinator must be in agreement with and follow the Pastor’s vision for a church. First and foremost: avoid being negative! Negative attitudes will destroy a vision faster than anything else. You will never be the leader God wants you to be as long as you take a negative view of life and others. And please don’t look for the vision in the consensus of the crowd; vision from God will result in consensus, not stem from it. Let the vision be imprinted on your heart and be the driving force behind what God wants you to accomplish for His Kingdom.
Be creative! Don’t just look at the vision in terms of what you’ve always done. “We’ve always done it this way” has killed many an organization or church. When you’re innovative you will look at the future. One of the first lessons of financial analysis is that we must forget about “sunk costs” in the past and concentrate on the net income of the future. We carry out the vision for future benefits, not just to “fix” something in the past, which is in reality gone forever.
Finally make the vision a source of inspiration for you and others. Personalize that vision for yourself and those around you. Those who are inspired together will act together in unity.
This is a tremendous challenge to you as a Lay Coordinator. We live in a world where the time is short and the eternal rewards are great. The Old Testament prophet Habakkuk said it well. “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay” (Habakkuk 2:2-3, NIV).
Will you be a part of the vision that God has for your church?