If people can’t see what God is doing, they stumble all over themselves
Proverbs 29:18a The Message It is common for a congregation to spend substantial energy creating a vision statement. But coming up with a clear, concise, and compelling vision statement is only the beginning. What is often missing is an intentional and effective communication plan about the road ahead. Movement doesn’t happen when members just hear about a new vision; it happens when they understand and buy into it. To understand your vision, members need to know the where, why, how, and what. When answered clearly, these questions can lead to understanding, unity, momentum, and the accomplishment of your vision.
The Where, Why, How, and What of Your Vision
Where are we going?
Everyone wants to be an insider. No one wants to be left out. When you share your vision and plans for the future, people become insiders. They become stakeholders of future possibilities and invested in the outcome.
Why does it matter?
It’s not enough to say, “Let’s go!” without explaining why you are going there. It’s also important to discuss the consequences of not going. When you ask members to invest in a future vision, they should be clear about why it’s important. Accomplishing your vision requires an investment of time, talent, and treasure. When you ask members to sacrifice, be sure they understand what is at stake.
How are we going to get there?
Be sure the congregation understands the plan, priorities, and work needed to accomplish your vision. Provide details about what needs to change, what will remain the same, and the specifics of your timeline.
What will be required?
This question may be the most inspiring. Years ago I read an interview with Billy Graham where he was quoted as saying, “Young people today are looking for something worth living for and something worth dying for.” No one wants to give his or her life for something that doesn’t matter. Knowing that something significant will be required of us tends to lead us to more significant sacrifice, resulting in a more profound future for the church. A mentor of mine says, "When a vision is first introduced, often the congregation will ask, What are they doing now?" But if leaders answer the critical questions clearly enough, those same people may begin to ask, “What are we doing?” And eventually, with increasing and compelling clarity, we should expect more of them to ask, “What is God asking me to do?” When we get to this point, most members will know where they’re going and what it will take to get there. So, how will you communicate your vision? How will you describe your church’s preferred future? Whether you gather people in homes, at the church, in a retreat setting, or spend time discussing your vision in worship, keep in mind that gaining momentum requires informing and inspiring your congregation.
Alice in Wonderland: “Which road should I take?
”Cheshire Cat: “That depends, where are you going?”
Alice: “I don’t know where I’m going.”
Cheshire Cat: “Then it doesn’t really matter which road you take.”
In any organization, especially the church, the Cheshire Cat’s question is an important one. Give careful thought to how you communicate your vision of a preferred future—then you will have the best opportunity to be on the same road together.