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Books for those in ministry organizations who desire to take their leadership, teams, governance, and ministry effectiveness to the next level.

02 May '12

Sustaining vision for the long run

Posted by T.J. Addington in missional clarity, organizational alignment, vision
We all know that vision leaks - which is why many ministries that thought they had a common vision wake up one day and discover that it is no longer true. 


Almost every ministry leader has vision - and believes that everyone in his/her organization know that vision. But ask around and in many cases what the leader thinks others know is not so. Or, they may tell you, it is the leader's vision, not theirs. Shared vision is evident when everyone in the organization can tell you where the ministry is headed.


Every ministry faces the question, "How do we sustain our vision for the long run?" 


It starts with having a God sized and God given vision in the first place. People are not captivated by small dreams but God sized dreams. When we have a vision that is larger than us and which can only be accomplished through God's power, and which significantly contributes to His purposes, it is a powerful thing.


There are many pseudo visions in ministry that have more to do with buildings and expansion and personal success than they do with reaching people for Jesus or true life transformation. Here, vision is used to achieve the ends of a leader rather than to serve the cause of Christ. Real vision has everything to do with the expansion of God's Kingdom on earth (Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven), not the expansion of our kingdom on earth. When vision is about Him it motivates. When vision is about us, it manipulates.


Real vision is a shared vision. It makes sense to the group who will carry it out and as a group they are committed to seeing it happen. It may start with a leader (Nehemiah) but it must become shared by the entire organization. 


Vision must be able to be communicated clearly and concisely in ways that everyone can get it. Memorability of vision matters a lot. Long vision documents are never remembered but simple, understandable vision that is repeated time and again will be.


Every vision needs an evangelist who not only deeply believes in what God is calling their organization to do but is constantly communicating that call. You cannot over communicate vision but the fact that most organizations don't have a common vision is proof that you can under communicate. All leaders in the organization should be evangelists for where God is calling the ministry. If they are not, you don't have a shared vision.


Prayer around one's vision is a critical factor because if the vision is from God, spending time in His presence, asking for his empowerment to make the vision a reality changes our hearts and gives us a resolve and commitment that comes from Him.


Vision means nothing without results. Communicating those results encourages people to keep pressing forward. Vision without tangible results creates cynicism, as it rightly should. Celebrate the wins as they come. And, organize your time, energy and resources so that they are all contributing to seeing the accomplishment of your vision.


As you think about the vision of your organization, compare it to these markers of sustaining vision for the long run. How are you doing?