Over the past two years, pastors and churches in the
Missionary Church in Jamaica have been asked to include
the vision of their church as a part of their Annual
Conference report. The stating of a vision is arrived at
by focusing on a precise plan and purpose for the
describes vision as an act of seeing. It is an
imaginative perception of things, combining insight and
foresight. It involves imagination and judgment. But
more particularly according to Stott, it is compounded
with a deep dissatisfaction with what is, and a clear
grasp of what could be. In fact, it ferments out of the
struggle of what is, as opposed to what should be.
“Indignation is indispensable to vision.”
Research shows that every successful organization has a
vision and the church should be no different. It means
that there is a clear understanding of what God’s plan
is for the future. It involves dreaming about what a
situation would look like if God’s will were done.
In a study carried out on twenty-four successful
churches in the United States, George Barna describes
some characteristics which healthy, growing churches had
in common. One is the vision – a clear understanding of
God’s plan, which these churches had. The following
points were identified and which could perhaps assist
any church, which so desires.
The vision of the church is not perceived to be
that of the pastor, or a strategic planning committee,
neither is it one which is promoted by the denomination.
Instead, it is what is understood as God’s vision for
the church at the local level and it is arrived at
through a significant amount of study, prayer and
In each successful church, passion for the vision
is handed down from the top of the church leadership
ladder – that is, from the pastor down.
The pastor, the leaders
and the church staff have to be fully behind the vision.
If they are not, the chances of creating a congregation
which passionately follows the plan, has little chance
of success. The vision invariably starts with the pastor
and is then passed on. However, the leaders cannot be
the only ones to possess the vision.
One of the most crucial responsibilities of each
individual in the church is to catch the vision and
transfer it to others. Therefore if the leadership does
not pass on the vision to the body with excitement and
fervour, it will bear no fruit. It has to be shared and
embraced by the rest of the church. Ownership of the
vision by the membership is a crucial part of the
The vision must become the call to action that
motivates the entire congregation. It must become the
filter through which all church activities are
evaluated. Activities which coincide with the vision
must be pursued and those which fall outside the
perimeters of the vision must be rejected. At all times,
the words, actions and programmes of the leadership
must reinforce the vision.
Barna stated that In all of the growing healthy
churches, the average member was able to say what the
vision was. Although each person might use different
words, different examples and even different
applications, the vision was essentially the same. This
must be the reality in every church which has a vision.
But to go one step
beyond, in successful churches, people are encouraged to
express the vision through lifestyle. This means more
than repetition of the right words. Although Barna found
there was a variation in the degree of emphasis from
church to church, all of the growing churches clearly
believed that their behavioural modeling was the most
effective means of communicating the vision to people
outside the church. A vision that is translated into
action by the people is a vision that has real support
A church with a vision is focused, because it has
the ability to communicate a clear direction and
purpose. The church’s attention and energy must be
concentrated on a specific goal that it believes God has
commissioned it to accomplish. From Barna’s research,
successful churches acknowledged that they could not
accomplish everything, and being spread too thinly was
not a virtue. They therefore composed vision statements
that defined specific target audience and missions that
would serve as the focus of the church outreach.
Yet, church leaders
were careful not to undermine the perceived ministry of
an individual when it was different from the focus of
the church at large. Individuals were encouraged to
fulfill the vision for ministry God had given them, and
to seek creative ways in which that outreach might be
done in cooperation with what the church was doing.
The successful, healthy churches articulated the
vision and communicated it through a well-conceived
strategy. Among the strategies used for passing on the
vision to others, churches did the following:
new member’s class, the time was taken to explain the
vision in detail.
The churches also:
an annual sermon devoted to restating the vision and
tying it to the goals and programmes of the church.
statement of the vision in the weekly
bulletin/programme, newsletter or a church publication.
an audiotape of the vision (explained by the pastor) to
all who were involved in the church.
ministry leader (elders, deacons, heads of departments
and auxiliaries) include in any request for new
resources (money, time, labour, materials) a
justification based upon the meshing of the activity
with the vision.
In all growing churches, every leader and the
average member was able to state the vision for the
church in one or two sentences. If the vision statement
takes more than two sentences, it may not be clear
enough for people to grab it as their own it. If it is
too broad, it is almost equal to no vision at all. The
vision statement should therefore be stated with
precision, and should enable the church to evaluate how
each ministry fits in.
So as a church:
Pray about the vision
Know what God wants
Write it down
Focus on it
Plan to fulfill it
Put strategies in place.
Be passionate about it
Implement the plan
Put your heart into it
The question therefore is:
WHAT IS THE VISION,
MISSION OR PURPOSE OF YOUR CHURCH?
Does your church
have a vision?