Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path. - Psalm 119:105

Church Leadership

Vision

By Dr. Richard J. Krejcir
A vision will have your primary call from Scripture, to hear and obey His Word!
Vision: A vision will have your primary call from Scripture, to hear and obey His Word!
 
           "Where there is no vision and revelation, the people will fail and have no restraint and perish to themselves; but blessed are the people who keep the law." Proverbs 29:18 (personal paraphrase from Hebrew)

Vision gives us a strong sense of purpose and direction to follow the will of God over our natural desires. The revelation is the Word of God, which is to be our vision, because without God's guidance we will run amuck! Vision enables us to build on what Christ gives us with passion and conviction, 'just doing it' will accomplish little to impact the body and the world around us. George Barna wrote in his book "Vision," "Vision is a clear mental image of a preferable future imparted by God to His chosen servants." You can call this sanctified dreams that put a God based goal by a God based idea into action. So the results of the visionary leader will find out what God wants and do it, plain and simple. Vision is the result of obedience and humbleness before a Holy God. Then it is shared with the rest of the people in the church with excitement. And without vision or revelation, as in Proverbs, we will not hear the Word of God and be unable to follow His will.  

"Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness-- the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me." Colossians 1:24-29

Paul is showing the Colosse people that their direction is in the Lordship of Christ. This new direction is based on what He has done on their behalf, and has specific connotations to bear in their walk with Christ. This passage is a testimony for the total supremacy of Christ, and His total sufficiency for the Colossians. Which means Christ is supreme and sufficient for us today, and this is the primary road of vision. When we are lacking, we need to fill up on Christ and not the distractions of the world and ourselves. We are to rely on nothing but the Lordship of Christ and what He achieved on our behalf.

In the ancient world, a "mystery" was a secret disclosure or word of knowledge that enabled a person to grow spiritually. The early church heresy Gnosticism is a primary aspect of this thought that the individual needs a secret insight to achieve a goal; Paul uses this imagery and turns it around that Christ made the mystery known to all. Thus invalidating the secret movement, which what used to be hidden is now freely accessible to all that are called and believe.       

A lot of leaders, pastors, and people in general feel vision is a dead horse that has been beaten too much. I do not think so. For us to be effective for the Kingdom of God, we need to know where we are going to lead others. The effective leader will have walked the path before leading others on it and will know where they are going: this is vision. The ability to know where and why you are going. This will allow you to come up with the why and how of the ministry, which will lead us to the "what," the "who" we are targeting, the "where" we are doing it, and the "when," which are the objectives that we are called to.

The "why" is the call from our Lord as manifested through Scripture and reinforced by our prayer and devotional life.

The "how" is the plan of action that maps out the target and the way we are going to accomplish the task that our Lord has called us to. A mission statement commonly does this. That is a short description of a few pages that outlines how you are going to implement your vision, and the target you are reaching, and the reasons for.

"What" is leading by asking and seeking the "why," and coming up with the "how" which is the plan and the "what" is what we are called to do. Sounds confusing? Basically it is the wise and careful thought with lots of prayer, Scripture, and study, what we are doing all logically and systematically spelled out. We start from a simple statement that sets the pace, then a detailed listing with analysis and projections of how we will do it. That is the purpose of our church, Biblically and characteristically, by our unique personality and what we have to offer by our collective gifts, and our target we are called to reach.

The "who" is the target we have. The principal target is always the neighborhood where your church is at, then expanding from there. It can be the neighborhood around the church, new people who move into the area, a cultural grouping, widows, orphans, or the people God calls us to.

The "where" is the location the church is at which is the priority that God gives us. Since he placed you in a strategic place, we are to respond to it. Hence if your church is in the city, but the members live in the suburbs, then your target is both the city and suburbs. It is never an either or choice, God placed you there for a reason! It is a very sad sight to see a church do nothing to reach the neighbors around it, and even a sadder sight when a church moves because the demographics have changed in their neighborhood. How sad our Lord must be when we let petty prejudices effect our decisions! 

The "when" is the time frame to do the mission and commission that Christ has given. As I stated, it is sad a sight to see a church spend all of its time to come up with a vision and mission plan and do nothing with it. How many churches across our country have evangelism and mission committees filled with people who are happy to be on it because that is the committee that does not meet very often, because they have nothing planned? It is a white elephant, a committee with nothing to do, filled with people who meet just for the sake of meeting, and that meeting is their ministry! Totally clueless on the purpose of the church, only filled with excuses of why they can't reach out, even though it is directly opposite of everything Scripture stands for and why our Lord died for us in the first place. So do we sit in meetings and feel good that we are active and involved in "ministry?" Hardly!!! Our Lord Jesus Christ has called us to respond to His saving grace by getting off our "Backside" and showing the gratitude we have. The when is now and is continual!!!

What is a "white elephant" you may say, perhaps you have heard of this metaphor and wonder what is has to do with church leadership? In the country of Burma {best known for the movie and play "The King and I"} the white elephant is the most sacred thing, a symbol of their god's blessing and coming prosperity. So this does not sound bad, but there is more to this story. When the king has found the white elephant, he can, if he chooses, give the elephant as a gift to someone. Wow, what an honor you may think as many countrymen did back then, or is it. The person who receives the elephant must care for it, feed it, clothe it {yes and quite extravagantly too}, and provide all the necessity's and luxuries an elephant god deserves. However, he must not use the elephant for any reason or means. Thus, they have the enormous cost and care for the elephant without any benefits from it. The blessings you may ask? They go to the King, period! This is quite a raw deal, and when we have leadership and vision without the "who, what, where, when, how, and why," we will have the raw deal, the white elephant living in our church!

Vision gives the leader a sense of purpose that must be an outgrowth of their growth. The leader who disciples and equips others is a person who is living the vision and setting goals for their personal growth, before they set goals for others. Since the leader's skills and abilities are growing, they can lead others to be workers. The leader needs to continue to be a better child of God first before they can lead. The leader is the model who goes first and reminds others in their walk of the vision over their words.

Leadership is centered upon the personal growth of the leader. Consider leadership like a chain of values all inter-linked together, if one link is broken or missing the chain will not support anything. When we leave out crucial aspects of our growth as disciples and especially as leaders we will fall flat and fail. The chain cannot function without each link working strong together, we cannot function without our links of spiritual discipline all working together, all working strong. It is out of that growth and the strong links of who we are in Christ and how we respond to Him will come the character of Christ. Out of that conduct of being in Christ will enter the values and drive the behavior of our daily walk, and this is what will influence others. 

You cannot lead where you have not been, or lead if you do not know where you are going. This is essential to being a leader. The leader will see the project already completed and the steps needed to implement it. They can see a lost person and the potential that they have in Christ. There are too many who get in their cars and drive without a map or itinerary. This can be adventurous for a while, even fun, but the life of Christ is not a road trip. We have to know where and why we are going and our direction must come from the Word of God and nowhere else. We are called not to just visualize it but to complete it, not to just talk about it but to do it. The effective leader will take vision and implement it into function.

I was a part of a church where they spent most of the ministry time on writing a vision. The pastors and elders went to conferences where they learned the importance of vision and purpose, so they came back all excited to do it. So as two years went by, over two-thirds of council time was in debate over it. Sub-committees were developed and every committee worked on it extensively. The result was, the original plan of the people who went to the conference changed little, and the vision, as it was written out, was one of the best I have ever seen. But, they did not do one thing to implement it. Yes, they had a great vision, and they thought they did a great job in writing it, but it was never communicated to the congregation, nor was there any feet put to it. This was a classic case of people just not getting it, Christ does not need boneheads, He needs disciples. We are not to spend all of our time planning and none to little to do it, yet so many people do. This is why a lot of corporations go under, they dwell on their past accomplishments and do not plan for the future.  

When we have a plan, then the objectives can come out of it. You cannot have healthy objectives unless there is a plan. You cannot build a house without an architect to plan it, if you do, you will have a house that I tried to build in Mexico, a mess. When we have the desire to follow our Lord, then He gives us the vision through His Word, and God will use us. We must believe, through faith, the Lord will use us and has a plan for us to head. Then we can replicate the vision in others, and help other Christians develop personal vision for their lives and then collectively for the church. Vision gives us the hope of the future that God has for us, and we provide the faith to make it work, and the commitment to persevere. 

So how do you know how big your vision should be? Just ask yourself if you had unlimited resources and money, and were grounded in the Word of God, what would you do? Then do it! "Neither a wise man nor a brave man sits on the tracks of history to wait for the train of the future to run him over." {General D. Eisenhower} You may have to have a realistic budget to work with, but the mother of invention is the need and the creativity to succeed. 

Jesus' vision was the discipleship and equipping of the disciples, this was His drive and where most of His time was spent. He was focused on the teaching of the Kingdom of God, to see beyond their situation to the life to come. With His teaching, Jesus entrusted His church and people in the care of the people He taught. And they were to replicate themselves to others and so forth, so that the objective was every believer was an equipper, every member a minister, every Christian be involved in the life and gifts of the body to influence the world.   

Vision is the vehicle that will carry the leaders through the spiritual disciplines to build the church and reach the world. They will be effective communicators of it and live it in their lives. The best part is the ultimate resource beyond any other including money is the Holy Spirit! The results are His, not ours. Our only responsibility is to respond to the call, so if it does not work, it is not failure, it is the will of God, as long as we are earnestly in obedience to Him. 

            Over 80% of new businesses fail in the first five years due to the needs of the owner outweighing the needs of the business. Churches fail for the very same reasons, our desires over His. The failed business do not have the discipline, which turns the thinking of getting things done into getting things done. The same is with churches, whose leaders may have great intentions but never let them outweigh their needs and comfort.

           A vision will have your primary call from Scripture, such as Mark 12:28-31 or Phil. 3:10, which are my personal favorite vision verses. Then a summary on how that Scripture will effect you and the church, a statement that defines your identity and values (Rom 12; John 4:23), and then your mission field. Then your objective, how and why you will be organized, what will be your strategy and plan. How will the people of the church be involved, as in business it is called "systems strategy?" Then do it! 
 

Ó R.J. Krejcir 1994, 2001 excerpt from the upcoming book 'Pew Sitting' www.intothyword.com

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