Recently, I received an email with a question about vision and I thought I’d share it with you.
Many pastors seem to have wonderful visions when they tell it.
However, they rarely seem to be able to turn their words into reality.
What do you think are the major causes of failure for them to achieve their goals?
In our research and experience, there are a couple of reasons why vision gets sidelined and goals are missed.
First, churches (and pastors!) rarely understand the role of an effective senior pastor. Instead of focusing on the priorities that will help the church transform lives and grow both the church and the kingdom, the pastor spends most of his/her time playing pastor fetch. “Pastor do this, pastor do that.” Most of “this and that” is caring for the members of the church, which means that the pastor has little time left to engage the important, life-giving, life-transforming tasks necessary to reach the vision.
I remember in my first church as a part time student pastor, I was busy growing the church by spending my time with the unchurched. I was told, in no uncertain terms, that my job was to take care of the church and the members first … and that cutting the church’s grass was an important part of my job. And writing the bulletin. And … and … Within a couple months I was so busy meeting the church’s “needs” that all the growth I’d managed to bring in slipped away. I was so caught up in “doing” church that I had no time to grow the church.
Second, pastors are taught how to study the Bible, how to do pastoral care, how to prepare and deliver a sermon, but they’re not taught to (1) strategically prioritize their time; nor are they taught (2) leadership. Without those skills, the pastor’s day is filled with distractions from the vision and the goals necessary to reach that vision.
It would be years before I learned this lesson. Seminary taught me to prioritize my time differently – I discovered that the pastor’s job isn’t to cut the church’s lawn. On the other hand, I was still taught that the membership was my most important priority … and there were lots of distractions that kept me from doing what it takes to grow the church. It would be years before I learned exactly what my priorities should be, at least if transforming lives was my key goal in life!
Having a vision isn’t enough. And even if you can effectively share your vision, that’s only the first step. Most pastors fumble their vision because of all the blockades that distract them and keep them from turning vision to reality.
If you’re still trying to dig yourself out of the chaos of the pandemic crisis, then you know how difficult it is to figure out a realistic answer to the “What Should I Do Next?” question.
On the other hand, fully 10% of US churches today haven’t just found their stride, they’re flourishing. The difference between those churches and the 90% that are still floundering is that the pastors of those churches have absolute clarity on their church’s God-Sized Vision. When you know precisely where to go, it’s a lot easier to lead your congregation to that future.
Twice a year I offer the Big Mouse Vision Adventure, a three month Adventure (and crash course) on how to discern and implement a God-Sized vision for your congregation. Details are forthcoming … keep an eye out for a special offer coming to your inbox soon!
Without a vision (and the commitment to see it through) the church will perish