Keeping the Vision Before Us

“There is a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.” —Steven Wright

The same could be said for casting vision. A vision is the ability to consider or plan the future with imagination or wisdom. A vision statement is an inspirational, idealistic statement of what a company or organization is striving to become. Companies use vision statements that are concept based: to nourish people and the planet (Whole Foods). Or quality-based: to move with velocity to drive profitable growth and become an even better McDonald’s serving more customers delicious food each day around the world (McDonald’s). These statements let every person inside or outside the organization know what is expected and hoped to be the outcome.

This business concept has been popular with churches for “casting a vision” or holding vision Sundays. The idea is that church members get a preview of what the church leadership wants to achieve during the year. At times, the underlying vision for the church gets overshadowed by current happenings. For example, the church vision is to reach the community, but the happenings are VBS, egg hunts, Christmas plays, etc. What is true in the business world is also true in the church world. Casting vision is not the same as catching the vision.

Developing a vision for your ministry is not easy, but getting others to catch the vision is even more challenging. But it is not impossible. If you go into the local McDonald’s and ask an employee what the company vision is, you might get a blank look. The same is probably true for most people in your church. So, how do we ensure the vision is caught, and we aren’t just standing on the shore?

First, put the vision into print or picture or both. Spoken words tend to get lost or replaced before they have the chance to become engrained. If the vision is important, write it where people will see it: the wall of the church, the tag line on your email or social media—anywhere people will see it and remember it. Use pictures to reinforce the vision. Be descriptive in your vision casting, so people understand the “why” behind the vision statement.

Next, make sure the team/church/ministry can align with the vision. If people cannot align with the vision cast, the vision will slowly die and cease to exist. Without alignment, you will not move in the same direction quickly. And, if you do move in the right direction, it will come with more wear and tear than is healthy for long-term sustainability. When our car alignment is out of whack, it damages and strains our vehicles, leading to repair or replacement. Alignment with our team allows us to build a foundation of commitment, cooperation, and community while giving the team members (congregation) ownership in the vision. The ministry vision becomes their vision as well.

Finally, share the vision frequently but uniquely, and live it out before others. Once we tell everyone about the vision, put it on the wall, and make it our email tag, we think everyone is familiar with the vision. But, as Alan Castel said in Psychology Today, “one of the near-universal laws of psychology is habituation—we stop noticing things we see or hear many times.” For example, think about the logo on the back of your phone without looking at it. Could you sketch it? In a study by the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, only one out of 85 sketched it correctly. If we don’t change the delivery, we could miss the forest for the trees.

A clear, simple vision should be the baseline of everything in our ministry. Everything that happens ultimately points back to fulfilling the vision. From our structure and outreach to the way we handle our financial plan, the vision should govern all actions. Being sure our team—our congregation—is aligned with the vision lets us move forward smoothly and efficiently.

This article was previously posted in the October/November 2022 edition of ONE Magazine.