By: Dan Reiland
“Lord, will this work?” Every leader has prayed an honest prayer like this one about their vision. And every leader understands the weight of that prayer.
When you cast a big vision, there are always risks. If, for no other reason, the outcomes are not guaranteed. If you can guarantee the outcomes of your vision, it’s too small. A good vision finds its balance at the intersection of the need for God’s favor and the ability of the leaders to carry their part.
When it comes to realizing a vision with eternal outcomes, it requires a divine partnership. God does His part, and you do yours. We have confidence in God, but it’s easy to second guess ourselves when the pressure rises.
Why is it that when some leaders cast vision, it seems like the people get on board quickly, and at other churches, the vision struggles to gain traction? In a few circumstances, the difference is found in the talent and charisma of the primary leader. Still, much more often, it’s about tangible elements that any leader can work toward.
In this post, I’m outlining seven of those elements or indicators that position your vision to gain traction and momentum. It’s never a guarantee, and we always need God, but if you put intentional effort toward these indicators, you will greatly strengthen the potential of your vision.
7 Indicators for Vision Momentum:
1) A deep passion that engages the hearts of the people.
Vision starts with a burden that generates passion within the leader’s soul. This authentic passion engages the hearts of the people. A tired vision by tired leaders gains a tired response. If your vision doesn’t capture people at a heart level, their buy-in will be short-lived at best and perhaps barely more than showing up to an event. Vision that captures the people has passion behind it, not hype, but a heart level-level fire.
The vision must be values-driven to engage the heart. Your biblical values must be immediately evident, and the values that define the uniqueness of your church must also be plain to see.
2) Crystal clear clarity that makes the vision easy to understand.
One of my “gifts” as a leader is that I can overcomplicate stuff. So I invest intentional effort into keeping things simple and clear.
Your vision needs the same kind of attention. In my coaching practice, I see paragraph-long vision statements that need to become one sentence. If you have to “explain” your vision to the congregation you lead, it’s not clear enough. Explanation is different than inspiration. Explanation is required to understand it; inspiration is necessary to embrace it. You inspire with stories and the hoped-for outcomes of your vision.
3) A promise of a better future.
For your vision to gain momentum, it must be grounded in the reality of the present but always connected to the future. A strong vision communicates that you are in touch with the current realities of your church and current culture and yet communicates faith that God has something better. Your vision must carry the hope of a better future. A better future should not be solely for the benefit of your own congregation. For example, a new building is great if your burden and passion are to reach people who are far from God. The inherent better future is not only lives changed for eternity, but your community is impacted positively.
4) A largeness that creates enthusiasm.
The definition of a large-sized vision is subjective and requires an artful approach in your leadership. Your vision needs to be large enough to depend upon God fully, but not so large that the people don’t believe it. A great vision expands your sense of what could happen if the people come together in unity and in partnership with God. You can know when you are in the sweet spot when your vision generates enthusiasm and action rather than disbelief or discouragement.
5) An application that is transferrable.
If the people just watch you and a few talented people lead a vision, it will never gain traction. Momentum comes from a vision where the people know what to do, and that begins by knowing what is expected of them to see the vision happen. This should not be limited to financial participation.
Communicate how the people connect the vision to their role.
How does it relate to their ministry?
In what way does the vision intersect their life?
A great vision will include everyone in the church who wants to be part. That increases momentum.
6) A soundness that stands up to scrutiny and the test of time.
One of the worst things you can do is frequently change your vision. That’s not the same as adjusting your vision because of changing realities; we all learned that during COVID at heightened levels. At times flexibility is required.
Let’s be candid; vision comes under scrutiny and sometimes even criticism. You don’t need to defend your vision any more than you hopefully don’t need to explain it. However, to gain momentum, your vision needs to have a substance to it, trustworthiness, and completeness that makes it sound from the onset. That produces confidence in those who want to join you.
7) Stories of life change that inspire others.
Stories of life change are one of the best ways to gain momentum with your vision. The stories of real people’s lives have a tremendous impact; they make vision believable. Stories of life change keep an organization human. Stories about everyday people help keep the soul of the organization generous and compassionate. Sunday mornings are one of the best times to communicate stories of life change. You can capture stories on video, bring people on stage, and interview or tell the story in a message.
How would you assess your vision in these seven areas?