Vision. Churches, organizations, non-profits, and even sometimes families all talk about vision. And these conversations around vision are often, although not exclusively, helpful. As Christians, we believe that the God is at work in this world both in the work of believers and unbelievers. Because of this, there is a lot that we can learn about the organization of a congregation and leadership from those who have no interest or appreciation for Church.
And vision is a common business practice and strategy. And so it is helpful consider, is vision-casting Biblical? And if so, what should it look like in our churches?
If your pastor seems to imply that he has some direct revelation from God that has been given to him outside of Scripture, no. It is unbiblical and I’d be a little worried about what he might say. But if vision-casting is nothing more than looking towards the future and stating a preferred future (which is also given and guided by God through people in their vocations), it is absolutely does not contradict what the Bible teaches.
Here is how Jim Collins defines “vision” in organizations.
Yet vision is one of the least understood-and most overused-terms in the language. Vision is simply a combination of three basic elements: (1) an organization’s fundamental reason for existence beyond just making money (often called its mission or purpose), (2) its timeless unchanging core values, and (3) huge and audacious—but ultimately achievable—aspirations for its own future
As our churches are led, they should certainly be led with this kind of vision.
But this doesn’t mean that the pastor is seeking some unique word from God where God shows up in a miraculously way telling them how to build the next mega-church. Instead, leading a congregation with vision ultimately comes from knowing the Scripture and knowing the culture you are trying to reach.
Vision is simply aligning the congregation around a shared ideal for the sake of the people you are trying to reach.
The scriptures say, “Go and make disciples of all nations by baptizing and teaching.” If this is the mission, the vision is how a congregation does this in their context. The vision becomes the unique ideals that shapes that congregation, not necessarily the given Biblical commands that are required of all congregations.
Non-Christian organizations do this all the time. Starbucks, Wal-Mart, ABC, Disney, Apple. They all cast vision for their organization. The CEO aligns that company around a particular idea and seeks to form the strategy and philosophy of business around that vision and mission.
And while our churches shouldn’t be run strictly like a business, there are valuable lessons we can learn from businesses, and uniting around a common vision is a lesson that is important for our congregations.
There is no such thing as a vision-less congregation.
“Vision" language might not be used. And a vision might not even be clearly expressed, but there is some kind of vision for what that place should look like and how ministry should happen. And if that vision is not clearly communicated, it will also be controlled by somebody other than the shepherd of that congregation. And when that happens, the vision to not have a vision gets hijacked by somebody else’s vision to make sure the church looks like their vision.