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Church: A Compelling Vision

Does your church have a compelling vision? If it does, do you know what it is? Do you talk with other church members about the vision? Do your leaders continually promote the vision of the church? Do you celebrate the victories that lead you toward the accomplishment of your vision?

Vision is a vital component of church health, so if you struggled to answer the above questions, I pray this little article will inspire some talk about vision at your church.

Vision is the ability to imagine a compelling future that does not yet exist. Vision is a destination; it’s somewhere you want to be. When you drive your car, your goal is to arrive at a specific place. You aren’t there yet, but you see yourself being there, so you make decisions that will result in your vision becoming a reality.

Having a compelling vision is motivational. For example, I have a colleague who had a vision of his church averaging a thousand in weekly attendance. It was a fairly audacious vision for a church averaging less than three hundred people and located in the middle of nowhere. The vision focused and prioritized the energy and resources of the church to overcome every obstacle and arrive at that destination. Today, that church averages nearly 1,500 in weekly attendance. That’s the power of vision. It will propel you over every unforeseen difficulty and challenge. The vision will drive you to sacrifice and will give you the courage to take extraordinary risks. People who are driven by vision are unstoppable — they always find a way forward. The Bible calls them overcomers. See Revelation 3:21.

This is why a compelling vision is essential for every church. There are a lot of obstacles out there. The gift of salvation may be free, but it sure is hard to give away. The ministry of reconciliation faces obstacles at every turn. Without vision, those obstacles will grow until they loom as big as mountains. A lack of vision will inevitably lead to continuous defeat. Seriously, there are just too many obstacles out there. This is why every church should seek to have a compelling vision.

About twenty years ago, I sat in a meeting hosted by a denominational leader and attended by about forty pastors. The leader asked us to share with the group the obstacles being encountered by our churches. For the next hour, I listened as one pastor after another shared about the size of their church building (too big or too small), poor locations, inadequate parking, outdated technology, insufficient funds, a lack of volunteers, and difficult people who were unwilling to change.

The exercise helped the leader to reveal the real obstacle facing most churches: a lack of compelling vision. The leader challenged us to get our eyes off our problems and begin focusing on a compelling vision. Why? Because people with compelling vision are very proficient at overcoming obstacles. Friends, when you have a compelling vision, every obstacle can be overcome. If you don’t believe that’s true, then you’ve never been driven by a truly compelling vision.
Where Does Vision Come From?

Vision comes by way of a visionary. Being a visionary requires two basic components: first, a vision, and second, the ability to communicate the vision so effectively that others embrace it. Not every person who has a vision is successful at being a visionary. Visionaries have followers. A person with a vision who isn’t a visionary is often frustrated and alone. As John Maxwell says, “If you’re leading, but no one is following, you’re just taking a walk.”

Does your church have a visionary leader? If not, begin fasting and praying that God will raise up a visionary in your church. It is a prayer He is eager to answer.

But before you begin praying, make sure you really want a visionary leader.

Visionaries aren’t always popular. They don’t put up with whiners and complainers and people who are content with being victims or with the status quo. Visionaries are the “lead, follow, or get out of the way” people. They introduce changes that are hard to swallow and often declare, “Those who say it can’t be done need to get out of the way of the people who are doing it.”

Before you ask God to send you a visionary, be sure you’ll be willing to follow. Following a visionary will likely cost you your traditions and preferences and conveniences and comforts. A visionary will challenge you to take dangerous risks and make painful sacrifices. Are you certain you really want a visionary leader? Your honest answer to that question may reveal why God hasn’t sent you one yet. 

Visionaries are often frustrated in the church world. They get weary of facing reluctant members, boards, and committees. I’ve watched churches reject visionary leaders as they continue their march toward irrelevancy and missional death. It’s difficult to watch. Visionary leaders will work hard to win people, but if those people are unwilling to be won, the visionary will “shake the dust from their sandals” and move on. See Matthew 10:14.

My friends, the work of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) and the ministry of reconciliation (II Corinthians 5:11-21) encounter obstacles at every turn. We need to be captivated by a compelling vision — one that drives us forward with courage, passion, and resolve. We must pray that God will plant such a vision in our hearts and that we will be willing and courageous to relentlessly pursue the vision. If we are true to the vision, Jesus promises that His church will overcome every obstacle — even death itself! See Matthew 16:18. Nothing can stand in the way of a church driven forward by a compelling vision. Nothing.

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