The conversation goes like this…
"Duncan… I get it. I really do. I get that we are going to have to make some changes if we are going to grow our church by reaching unchurched people. I get that it might get a little messy… and people will want to go back to how it used to be… and some may even want to leave. So my question is: “How to I get my trustee’s, staff, elders, deacons, volunteers on board with changing what we do in order to create a church that unchurched people love?”
It’s a great question. I get it a lot.
My answer? “Start with the end in mind.”
Does everyone know where to find the finish line?
If you love the Harry Potter films you’ll know the character Snape was played by Alan Rickman. But did you know he was about the quit the franchise after the first two films? That was until JK Rowling told him a secret about Snape which made him stay on.
She had a vision for how the story would end. He didn’t.
What’s the end in mind for your church? Just business as usual? Sermons songs and small groups for the next 60 years? Or is it a more compelling climax where people who are far from God get found?
As a Church Leader you are responsible for the story your church writes in your community. JK Rowling was trying to present a story that no one had ever seen before. You are trying to create a church that your community has never seen before.
So you’ve got to make sure everyone knows where the journey is going.
Imagine starting a race without any idea where to find the finish line? The gun goes off… and people start running… in every direction.
Imagine starting a new church or a midweek programme or a Sunday service where people have no idea what the win looks like? Wouldn’t that mean people would make up their own win and start running in all different directions? The sad truth is that over time most churches default to keeping people and not reaching people.
The sad truth is that over time most churches default to keeping people and not reaching people.
But if you start with the end in mind (and keep it high in every leadership conversation) it will help you and your teams stay laser focused and running in the same direction.
Time to Define your Win
Starting with the end in mind all comes down to casting vision.
Some people will believe in your church vision because it helps them personally. Others will believe in your vision enough to contribute something toward it. However, what your church needs in order to really grow, is for people to believe in your vision enough to give their lives to it! And that will take you as the leader creatively and consistently casting a compelling vision.
I recently put a church leadership team I was coaching into three different groups and asked them simply to write down the church vision.
I got three different answers. Talk about running in different directions!
Can your team articulate your church vision?
What would happen to your church if your staff and volunteers don’t understand or embrace your vision?
Does everyone know what you as a church are here to do?
If you are even slightly shaky on the answers to any of the questions above you’ve got some very important work to do. And its urgent work. Because no leader wants their people running off in different directions, right?
Here’s your four point plan for casting a compelling vision:
1. Make it Simple
One church proudly showed me their glossy 15-page vision document. It looked expensive but nobody knew it and nobody followed it. Because it was too long and too complicated. Is your vision simple or complex? Can it fit on the front of a t-shirt? Is it memorable or forgettable?
Remember: Simplicity + Clarity = Portability
Create portable language so as your people can carry it easily.
2. Make it Convincing
Find creative & compelling ways to cast your vision.
Start by highlighting the problem you’ve come together to solve.
Talk about the solution God has given
Finish by stating why your church are the people called to do it (and do it now).
Don’t inform people about your vision, inspire them with your vision.
3. Repeat it Regularly
I use every email I send… every one-on-one meeting I hold… every good news story I tell… to make sure vision casting is woven into the rhythm of our ministry.
Where do you currently share your vision?
How can you regularly programme it into your church schedule?
How often are you currently repeating your vision?
What did you do TODAY to cast vision to your team or your church?
4. Embrace it Personally
Okay - this is a tough one. But why would you expect anyone in your church to do what you’re not prepared to do?
Don’t vision cast for groups if your not in a life giving group
Don’t talk about sacrificial giving if your not digging deep
Don’t talk about inviting friends if you haven’t got any friends to invite.
How do you Eat an Elephant?
It’s one bite at a time, right? Here are three simple bites you can take today.
1. Start where you are.
(Stop comparing yourself to other churches and start facing your own reality as you create compelling vision for your church).
2. Use what you have.
(Okay, you haven’t got a Disney budget or a huge staff team but you don’t get to where you want to be by wishing you had more. You get there by using what you have at your disposal right now.)
3. Do what you can.
(What can you do TODAY to cast vision? Ask this question of your team, make it part of your ongoing leadership conversations and don’t put it off for a later date.)
Starting with the end in mind might as simple as inviting your friend to church next Sunday and thinking about what they’ll experience.
What do you want them to experience?
What do you NOT want them to experience?
These questions make you see your church from a different perspective. That’s starting with the end in mind.
Because when you know the answers to these questions it will shape how you create the story of your church from here on in.
And if there is anything the Further Faster tribe can do to help you win, you know where we are.
Don’t hesitate to reach out…
Download a discussion guide on this blog post