I’ve served in churches for over 40 years and I’m still learning how to craft a sticky church vision. In my current church, WestPark Church in London, Ontario, I delivered our vision for my first year after being there for only three months. That may seem quick, but I sensed it was well received. In this post I explain the the four steps I incorporated that created greater involvement, buy in, and spiritual success.
Before I came to that church I read extensively about how best to onboard (the term used when we transition to a new job). As a result, I created a six month learning agenda which essentially set my priorities for the first six months.
If you are new to your church or are considering a new church, I highly recommend one of my books called Every Pastor’s First 180 Days: How to Start and Stay Strong in a New Church Job. It’s a book tailored to pastors to help them navigate their first few months in a new church or a new role.
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’m learning and have often asked for their input. That collaborative mindset helped me craft that initial vision (and the ones that followed) 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 gathering.
- Then the church heard it in a morning message.
- Finally, after my first 90 days I mailed out a progress report which repeated the vision for those who may have missed it on the Sunday I shared it.
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 visually reinforced the vision in several ways I’ve listed below. 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 unveiled two large banners that we hung in the auditorium.
- We hung small posters of the vision in various places in the building and kept them there for the rest of the year.
- We posted the visuals on our web site.
- We incorporated the visuals into our bulletin on a regular basis.
These steps definitely paid off because four years later, we are a growing and vibrant multi-culture church.
If you are casting vision, whether or not you are new to your church, consider using these four steps to increase the buy-in for your vision.
What has helped you effectively cast vision?