I’ve served in churches for over 30 years and I’m still learning how to craft a sticky church vision. In my current church I just delivered our vision for 2014 after being here for only three months. That may seem quick, but I sense it will be well received. Of course, I may say something different in six months. But I believe the these four steps I incorporated this time will result in a sticky vision that will effect greater involvement, buy in, and spiritual success.
First, a quick history. I served a great church in Aurora, IL from July 2004 to April 2012. For the next year and a half I then consulted with churches, trained pastors internationally and nationally, and wrote two books. One book just came out, People Pleasing Pastors: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Approval Motivated Leadership. The other one to be titled The Brain Savvy Christian Leader intersects brain insight with Scriptural insight and will release in 12 months.
Then, last November I began as lead pastor at a really cool church in London, Ontario, West Park Church. The church is 50 years old, has a rich history, faces some unique challenges, is located in a fast growing area, and is blessed with a great facility.
Before I came I read extensively about how best to on-board (transition to a new job well) and created a six month learning agenda which essentially set my priorities for the first six months. Last Sunday I shared with the church our vision for 2014.
If you are new to your church or are considering a new church, I highly recommend the book The First 90 Days. It’s one of the best to help you navigate your first few months. You can also purchase an iPhone/android app that goes along with it.
Here are the four steps I took.
1. Wisely time the vision reveal.
I was a bit reluctant to share a big five year comprehensive vision. It would have been foolish to do so. Yet, it would have been equally foolish to wait until I thoroughly knew the church before casting a vision. So, after setting up multiple 1-1, group, and leadership listening sessions, I felt that I had sufficient knowledge to cast an intelligent one year vision to capture West Park’s current situation and reflect God’s plan for the church.
2. Collaborate extensively.
I received some wise counsel from a Canadian pastor the first week I arrived. I asked him for one bit of advice he’d offer me as an American pastor newly arriving in Canada. He wisely said, “Lead collaboratively. Many American pastors come here and fail because they try to lead with a heavy top down leadership style.” I took his advice and have built a close and great working relationship with our board. I have appraised them all along about what I’ve learned and have asked for permission and for their input often. That collaborative mindset has helped me craft the vision that most closely aligns with reality and resulted in good buy-in from the board.
3. Sequence who you tell.
I intentionally rolled out the communication of the vision in this order.
- First the board heard it and approved it. It was not new to them because they had followed my learning the entire time.
- Then the staff heard it. They too, weren’t surprised as I had shared my learning along the way.
- Then a large group of our leaders heard it at a leadership community.
- Then the church heard it in last week’s morning message.
- Finally, I’m mailing out a 90 day progress report this week which repeats the vision for those who may have missed it Sunday.
4. Maximize the visual component.
Since one third of our brains are involved in visual processing, we hired an artist to translate the vision into a clear and compelling visual format. We did and will visually reinforce the vision in several ways I’ve listed below. And, I’ve include the logos the artist designed for us here.
- We incorporated it into my Sunday sermon presentation on the screen.
- We printed a bookmark that we gave to everyone as they left.
- We will unveil two large banners this coming Sunday that we will hang in the auditorium.
- We will hang small posters of the vision in various places in the building and keep them there for the rest of the year.
- We will post the visuals on our web site.
- We will incorporate the visuals into our bulletin on a regular basis.
Although the verdict is still out, I believe these four steps will increase the chance that our vision will become reality in 2014.
What has helped you effectively cast vision?