Many churches and non-profits stumble in the Vision/Strategy process because they are using a template that is too complex. Many leaders give up on having an intentional process because they do not know where to start. Others are wary of adopting a corporate model that may not fit their context.
As a result many charities and NGO’s:
- settle for lesser outcomes because of their lack of planning and focus
- are vulnerable to competing priorities & agendas that should not be their primary focus
- have a vague sense of what they are trying to accomplish
- lose good people who are interested in seeing more forward progress
- mismanage valuable donor/investor dollars
This past weekend I had the opportunity to take a church leadership team through a more do-able process than is commonly used. Adapt this process to your own context and allow it to lead you to greater clarity!
1. RESEARCH what the church/organization is called to Biblically-
Study what God really had in mind for the church universal. Do not assume too quickly that you know the answer before you go back to the original documents as a leadership team!
Here are 16 passages of Scripture I asked the leadership team I was working with to research so that they could arrive at a clearer picture of their mandate: Matthew 16:18-19, Matthew 19:14, Matthew 25:37-40, Matthew 28:18-20, Luke 24:47, John 15:1-8, 16-17, Acts 1:8, Romans 10:15, I Cor. 11:23-26, Eph. 4:11-16, Col. 2:6-7, Col. 3:16, II Tim. 2:22, Heb. 10:22-25, James 5:13-16, & I Peter 2:5, 9.
What you discover in passages like this needs to inform the entire visioning process.
2. REFLECT on what our church/organization is called to-
In the second step of the process you discern what the unique gifts/passions/burdens are in your local church or ministry. Each group of God’s people has a particular gift-mix, context and sense of mission.
My interest at this stage is: how can we tap into the vision, motivation, strengths and giftings of the people in the room? How can we find out what people are inherently motivated to do without having to have external motivation?!
To arrive at a greater sense of clarity on this I had the each person in the group write out the story they would like to be telling in 2 years about the amazing things that God did in their own lives, their family, and/or their ministry. When people share their stories it is not uncommon to see moist eyes in the room… at that point I know that we are touching on the nerve of what people really want to see God do in their midst.
3. REFINE the vision-
At this point you write or revisit your mission statement. Does your mission statement reflect what you discovered in the previous two steps? Have you expressed the vision in an accurate, compelling, clear and concise way?
It is amazing how our familiarity with our vision statements sometimes make us blind to elements that should or should not be present! For example, the church I was working with needed an outreach strategy to accomplish their mission, but somehow that important area had been entirely overlooked in their previous visioning process.
Once you arrive at clarity you can also have fun brainstorming as a team what may be the best ways to communicate the vision in your context. Are there icons or photos that would best communicate the main aspects of the vision? Can you develop a vision prayer? How will you use video and social media?
4. REALIZE the vision through taking fitting steps and measuring progress [strategy]-
Think of all that you will need to have in place to carry the vision forward. What are the resources, training, communication plans, recruiting, and prioritizing action steps that need to take place for each vision initiative?
For example, if the leadership team wishes to add more small groups in order to fulfill their fellowship mandate, they may need to: (1) identify potential leaders, (2) personally approach potential leaders, (3) provide small group leadership training, (4) develop a church-wide communication strategy, (5) develop a prayer strategy, and (6) begin the process of recruiting new small group members.
You may find it helpful to chart each piece of your strategy by listing the initiative, the aspect of the vision it fulfills, who will be the point person, the action steps that need to be taken and the dates that actions will be taken by. In this way, you hold your own feet to the fire to accomplish what is most vital.
By the end of the weekend the leadership team was well on their way towards engaging their congregation!
If you would benefit from having an outside eye facilitating this process be sure to give me a shout.
May God richly bless you in your leadership!