September 8, 2011 by Chris French
Whether you’re a minister or CEO of a large company you have a vision for where you want your congregation/business to be. We’ve all thought about how to make our places more successful and drafted the proposals full of awesome ideas to make it happen…then we watched it go down in flames on occasion. Andy Stanley gives us some principles that will help our vision stick.
First of all we need to understand that our vision won’t stick without our constant care and attention. We do that by making our vision (1) memorable. Make it simple. It’s better to have an incomplete idea than a forgettable vision statement. (2) Our vision needs to fix a problem. We need to express to our members the problem our vision solves and what will happen if that problem continues to go unmet. (3) We need to repeat the vision regularly. Stanley does a 2-3 part sermon series on vision-casting in January, so he can play off people’s New Year’s resolutions, and in May when they enlist volunteers for the Fall. He even recorded a 12 minute monologue of him explaining the vision and handed it out to the congregation as they left for three Sundays in a row. They were asked to listen to it on the ride home. We need to cast our vision when the most people are able to be there (beginning of New Year makes sense) and when they’re at their most attentive. We also need to put the vision absolutely everywhere!
(4) We need to celebrate the vision’s success stories systematically. When someone does their part in accomplishing the vision celebrate it in a big way. The more eyes you have looking for these success stories the better so get the staff to tell stories about people hitting the mark and make a big deal out of it in the life of the congregation. (5) As the leader you need to embrace the vision personally. In short you need to live out the vision in your own life. Practice what you preach.
Stanley also gives some signs that your vision is slipping either from your mind or the people’s. (1) Keep the main thing the main thing. There are all kinds of good programs you can start doing, but they might hinder the effectiveness of your vision. (2) Notice what people are saying. Questions and complaints show what is important to people and what they’re thinking. The stories they tell are ways to express spontaneous celebration. If people aren’t asking the right questions or complaining about the right things they may have lost the vision.
I highly recommend this book. It’s tiny so you can read it very quickly, but it’s packed with helpful information on a subject most of us struggle with. He tells a couple of stories when he’s talking about celebrating people who have lived the vision out that are awesome. This soldier is leading a boys small group Bible study when he gets called to active duty. He goes to Iraq, but calls each boy in his group to tell them how he’s doing and ask about them. One of the boy’s mothers sends Stanley an e-mail telling him how much this meant to her and her son. When the solider gets back Stanley has him sit on the front row in his dress uniform. It’s January so it’s time for Stanley’s vision casting lesson again so He talks about serving in the local church. Toward the end of the lesson he reads the mother’s e-mail about this soldier, asks him to stand and invites everyone who is to busy to serve to come share their excuses with him. Awesome!