The Annual Vision Message: a creative approach

Each November I bring an annual “vision” message to explain the big picture for the coming year and hopefully motivate buy-in.

I seldom look forward to it because I feel incredible pressure to bring a message so inspiring that people will be willing to take on hell with a water pistol. Much of the pressure I know is self-imposed. But I also know that some people expect me to bring, as one leader put it, the next church growth “killer app.”

I’ve pastored a church for two decades, have delivered 20 vision messages, and have usually come away disappointed, until this year. I’m finally at peace with myself about this talk for two reasons. I’m right-sizing the change one sermon can bring to a church. And, this year I asked the rest of our staff pastors to help deliver the message.

We chose 3-D Living as our theme for 2011 to capture the three major objectives that all begin with the letter ‘D’.

  • Disciple Believers
  • Develop Leaders
  • Deepen our Passion for the Lost

In this year’s vision message, I spoke the first 10 minutes and explained our “3-D plan.” As I wove together three pieces of rope, I illustrated the metaphor the writer of Ecclesiastes used in 4.12, “a triple braided cord is not easily broken.” Each strand represented one objective.

The message’s most meaningful part, however, came when each pastor took several minutes to share a story that illustrated how we had/will achieve our objectives.

Including these guys enhanced the vision in these ways.

  1. We visually communicated our unity behind it as we all sat on stools together on stage
  2. We reinforced the vision with heart-felt stories from various ministries
  3. We connecting with more people than I could have alone because we used multiple voices
  4. We avoided the ‘talking head for 35 minutes’ thing
  5. We had fun with each other in front of the church which helped endear them to us
  6. I helped the staff ‘own’ the vision by inviting them to participate

We received great feedback and I plan to use this format in the future.

How have you creatively given a vision message?

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