COVID-19 has profoundly changed the way we do church.
Online presentation has become critical . . . in-person gatherings have become complicated. Adhering to guidelines that are in reality moving targets, and at the same time planning something impactful, has become difficult.
Not surprisingly, the place of vision in this new season has come into question. Pre-COVID, we here at Converge Coaching would suggest a church look about 2-3 years ahead and figure out where they wanted to land in that timeframe. Vision is about destination. It’s speaks to where you’re ultimately heading over a period of time.
Once the quarantine hit, many pastors reported struggles with casting any kind of vision. They were more focused on surviving. And surviving was actually the right priority, at least for a while. I heard this question more than once during the early stages of quarantine: “How far out should I be casting vision?” Here’s another one: “Should I be casting vision at all?”
As we emerge from quarantine, and survey the new landscape, it’s our contention that vision needs to be revisited.
Why vision? Why does it matter?
1. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” (Proverbs 29:18)
My friend Jeff Harlow puts it this way: “Where you lose sight of the future and God’s plans and instructions for it, people run wild.” During the first six weeks of quarantine, Laura and I decided to work on a jigsaw puzzle. Often during that project, we found ourselves thankful for the picture of the completed puzzle on the box cover. When we felt stuck, looking at that picture helped us make progress. Without it, completing the puzzle would have been much more challenging.
Vision speaks to where. To destination. It’s a clear, compelling, mouthwatering picture of a desirable future state.
2. Vision helps your organization get aligned
Michael Hyatt points out that you can’t get alignment without something to align to. Vision is that “something.” It is an organization’s north star. It creates a strong sense of purpose that keeps the church you lead on track, even when you’re dealing with a pandemic, coupled with national unrest, along with a contentious election year. The more aligned your organization is in terms of vision—the greater its impact.
3. Vision filters our decision-making
We live in a culture with so many choices, we can find ourselves paralyzed. One trip to the cereal aisle at Kroger drives this point home. If you love granola, dozens of choices await you. A clear organizational destination helps us choose. It tells us where to put our resources . . . our people, our time, our money. Vision helps us decide who we’ll hire. What programs we’ll start and which ones we’ll stop. In a world with an overwhelming number of choices, vision helps us choose well.
4. Vision creates energy and momentum
More than a few pastors have complained to me that the church they lead doesn’t have enough people stepping up to serve. My response often is, “What’s your vision for the church?” If they answer vaguely, it’s not hard to figure out why that church has a “people-serving” problem. A compelling vision is a magnet that draws people to join the team. To roll up their sleeves and work.
Let me quote Michael Hyatt again: “When we lead with vision, we’re doing something that makes people move from renters to owners.” Hyatt goes on to tell the story of a custodian who worked for NASA in the 1960s, in the middle of the quest to fulfill John F. Kennedy’s bold vision of putting a man on the moon and returning him safely by the end of the decade. This custodian was asked, “What’s it like to mop floors at NASA?” He replied, “I’m not mopping floors . . . I’m helping to put a man on the moon.”
Vision connects the dots between everyday tasks and a mouthwatering picture of a preferred destination. The better this connection, the more organizational energy and momentum are released.
Vision matters. The church—or even the business—that you lead needs you to cast vision again. To paint a compelling picture of an achievable future. You may be wondering how far out you should be looking. That’s the million-dollar question. Right now, our answer to clients asking that question is “about six months.” Are we right about that? It’s hard to know for sure. But regardless of the time frame, we do believe it’s time to emerge from survival mode and start visioning again.
If you find yourself not knowing where to start, we’re here to serve you. We have experts who can help you figure out the “vision thing.” The long-term health of the church you lead depends on it.
Rooting and praying for you!