Does Your Church Embrace the Vision? Two Ways to Know

When do you know the vision has become ingrained in the culture of your church and not just in your own dreams?

There’s a crucial question every ministry leader must answer when it comes to their vision. When do you know the vision has become ingrained in the culture of your church and not just in your own dreams?

It’s not enough to have a vision, even a compelling one. It’s not enough to be able to communicate your vision well. And it definitely isn’t enough to be passionate about your vision. Of course, you’re going to be passionate about your vision. It’syour vision.

What you really want is for the vision to stick. To infiltrate and permeate every area of your church. To be so ingrained in your culture that people speak the vision and do the vision without even thinking about it.

But how do you know when that has happened?

Two indicators stick out to me. Here’s the first:

1. When the best ideas are not your own.

When the vision has become ingrained in your culture, great ideas should be flowing from all directions. The pastor shouldn’t be the chief idea officer, but the chief vision officer. His responsibility is to make sure that the ideas are fitting into the vision. Not generate all of the ideas for the vision.

If all of the best ideas are coming from the pastor, it’s a sign the vision hasn’t truly been owned by the people. It’s only being served. In other words, for your staff and volunteers, it’s still your vision. And since it’s your vision, you should be the one coming up with the best ideas for it. And then they’ll support you by making them happen. As Christine Caine would say, they see themselves as servants of your vision rather than as stewards of a vision that has become their own.

The vision isn’t going very far this way. I don’t care if you’re Steve Jobs; you don’t have enough great ideas in you to keep it going.

The solution: regularly demand people to bring their own ideas to the table. Set the expectation that fresh ideas for how to carry out the vision aren’t welcomed, they’re expected. Remind the people you’re leading that the vision isn’t just yours. It’s everyone’s. And everyone can and should contribute.

When they do, reward and recognize them in front of everyone. Make them the standard.

And then don’t be surprised when great ideas start flowing from people other than you.

2. Leaders have been raised up who can communicate the vision better in ways more suited to their personality and area of responsibility.

If you’re the only person who can communicate the vision, you’re in trouble. If your staff has to get you to every event to cast vision, there’s a problem. It’s an indication not of how great of a vision caster you are, but of how much your staff has yet to own and appropriate the vision to their own unique contexts.

I remember the first time I heard the original version of Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door by Bob Dylan. I didn’t like it. Not because it wasn’t good, but because I had already heard it played by Guns N’ Roses. And I thought their version was way better.

That’s what you want from the people you lead. You want people who can take your vision and make it better and communicate it more effectively in their own ministry setting. Who can take it and find fresh angles to approach it from that you never would have thought of yourself.

You know the vision has become ingrained when you don’t have to be there in person to ingrain it. Your leaders have so internalized it that when they’re there, it’s as if you’re there. And it’s even better.

The solution: Regularly force your people to articulate the vision in the context of their specific area of responsibilities. To you. To the staff. And to the people they oversee. The more they do, the more they’ll understand it, own it, and spread it. And the more your people will love and believe in the vision, not just the chief vision caster.

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Steven Furtick is the founder and lead pastor of Elevation Church. In just under seven years, Elevation Church grew to more than 12,000 people in weekly attendance, meeting at seven locations in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. Elevation has been named one of the fastest growing Churches in America by Outreach Magazine for each of the past six years.

Pastor Steven has been privileged to minister to a global audience, speaking at conferences and churches around the world, including Catalyst Conference, Hillsong Conference, and the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit. He is the author of the best selling book “Sun Stand Still” and the New York Times Best-Selling follow-up, “Greater.” Pastor Steven holds a Master of Divinity degree from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He and his wife Holly live in the Charlotte area with their two sons, Elijah and Graham, and daughter, Abbey.

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