How To Blow Up Your Church’s Vision And Mission

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By Certified Church Consultant, Dr. David Smith

Every pastor and church leader wants to see their church’s mission and vision burst forth joyously and beautifully spread out to resonate with the core of as many of their people as possible. I fear too many pastors and church leaders are frustrated by the lack of buy-in for their mission-vision by their staff, key influencers, and congregations. They think they’ve lit the fuse of a solid mission-vision engagement plan only to have pulled the pin on the most dangerous mission-vision killer in their arsenal…the idea grenade.

Grenades are small, neatly packaged devices filled with the potential to cause severe devastation. Pulling a grenade’s pin puts in motion an irreversible process. The striker hits the percussion cap causing a small spark which lights a fuse that ignites the detonator setting off an explosion causing the casing to shrapnelize, expanding quickly outward impaling anyone and anything in its blast radius. For the soldier, a grenade is simple: pull the pin, throw the device, then duck and cover so you’re not part of the resulting carnage.

Pastors and church leaders often use idea grenades with similarly devastating effects on their mission-vision and people. Allow me to illustrate how the idea grenade scenario might go in a church.

Pastor Fred is the key mission-vision leader of his church. Fred considers himself a visionary leader who has an intense desire to lead his church into the successful accomplishment of its mission-vision. He yearns to see his entire congregation catch the fire that burns in his soul to reach people for Christ and see them discipled into fully maturing followers of Christ. His passion is to lead a healthy, growing, reproducing church.

Pastor Fred’s mission-vision casting process isn’t that different from a soldier in combat. Zealous to see his church’s mission-vision expand, he comes up with a great idea that he’s sure will pierce the hearts of all who hear it and propel them en masse into the fields of ministry. Rather than take the time to vet his idea with other key leaders and influencers in his church he simply launches his grenade. His idea makes sense in his mind, but he’s not really thought through the implementation impact on his staff or volunteers or engaged others to help him do so. He’s not clearly pre-defined how his idea aligns with the mission-vision in a way that clarifies what success his idea looks like for key influencers. Fred’s not worried about the particulars of his idea, they’ll take care of themselves. He’s the visionary; it’s someone else’s job to pick up the pieces. His idea makes perfect sense to him. He’s excited about it so he pulls the pin and launches it into his congregation.

Pastor Fred’s idea grenade will either land as a dud, not capturing anyone’s heart other than his own, or it’ll blow up and hit a few people. Those few may get excited and engaged for a while, but because his idea lacks clear alignment with the mission-vision, it’ll ultimately not perform to Fred’s expectations. Fred will become frustrated only to move on to a new, better, more vibrant (and maybe bigger) idea. Out of frustration or an attempt to excite and engage as many people as possible, Fred will lob grenades at his people every 3-6 months, maybe even only annually. This cycle will continue until Fred’s church becomes apathetic, frustrated, disengaged and derailed from their true mission-vision.

Successful mission-vision casting is laser focused and highly repetitive. A truly visionary leader is driven by the mission-vision God lays out in Scripture for the Church (cp Matt. 28:18-20; Lk. 14:21-23). He evaluates everything in light of that mission-vision. Every facet of ministry – worship, budgets, programs, ministries, personnel, buildings, etc. – should be evaluated for conformity to and alignment with the mission-vision. The visionary leader vets ideas through key leaders and strategic influencers within the church for their insight and buy-in before introducing it to his congregation. Approaching mission-vision strategically and intentionally creates clarity and full buy-in by your leaders and congregation. It creates unity within the church and moves people to full engagement and the successful realization of their jointly held mission-vision.

Pastors need to stop lobbing idea grenades and stay laser focused on God’s mission-vision. Take the time to work the process. Provide clarity and truly equip your people for ministry (Eph. 4:11ff). Do the work of true visionary leading. It’s the only sustainable path to a fully healthy church.

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