One of the key roles and responsibilities of pastors and leaders is vision casting. The senior leader is the chief advocate and example of the vision to the congregation or organization. Since planting Activate I’ve learnt many things about vision while sitting in the hot seat and learning what works and what doesn’t work. I’m so passionate about the topic that I have written a book on Vision (2nd edition being released in 2013) and while writing the book, discovered that there are literally a plethora of ideas about vision and some of them helpful.
At the risk of being just another voice crying in the wilderness, here are some of my tips to casting a compelling vision:
Know what vision is: Many of the terms we use to talk about vision are confusing – mission, purpose, goals, dreams, vision, the list goes on. Really simply I define vision as a clear and compelling God-given picture of the future.
The Ripple Effect: Too many of us leaders are so enthusiastic about our vision that we fail to do the work to get our closest team members seeing and owning what is beating in our hearts. Begin gathering the people closest to you around the vision and then move outwards in concentric circles to the wider fringes of the congregation or group of people. Generally the wider the audience, the more public the vision casting.
If it’s fuzzy in the pulpit, it will be confusing in the congregation: If you aren’t clear, don’t expect anyone else to be. Clarity is one of the key functions of leadership. Fuzzy vision generally results in hostile takeovers and directionless anarchy.
Use media well: We are living in a visual generation and thus you must be able to tell the story of your vision through pictures.
Tell the story: We all love stories. Tell the story of where you came from, the journey along the way and where you are heading. Don’t just be clinical about it but take people with you. I remember a disaster vision session whereby I enthusiastically casted my vision for global domination, only to leave everyone in the dust of my grandiose plans. There were pockets of excitement but overall, it left a bad taste in people’s mouths because I hadn’t given context and taken people on the journey.
Toxic culture will stop a great vision: No matter how great your vision is, if your culture is not healthy, your vision won’t get off the runway. Create a healthy culture in partnership with a clear and dynamic vision and you will get lift-off.