Chapter 1--Vision: Who You Are Matters More Than What You Do
Four days left. Four days to prepare for my first planning time with my team as Director. What would I do? How would I budget our time? I wanted to appear confident and prove to my team that I belonged. The question I did not anticipate would weigh so heavy on me as a leader: What are we going to DO? What were we going to do? Barbeques, parties, evangelism, bible studies?
The answer: Nothing. Until our team understands who we ARE. Before we can do something we have to BE something.
NO ONE in the ministry you are starting is going to care as much about vision as you; if you do not spend the time getting clear on where you are going you can be assured within a year or two your ministry will be littered with decisions made in reaction to extremely positive and negative people and experiences, with little to no thoughtful strategic decisions made in light of the future. (will be characterized by reactions to hot and cold people and experiences rather than biblically-driven forethought and intentional planning.)
Positive people: A highly capable leader shows up and instantly everything revolves around them; suddenly they are leading bible studies, speaking at your meetings, the star of every video, etc. But what happens if/when that student moves away? Or drops out of school? Or decides they want to start their own ministry.
Negative people: Your ministry draws an extremely awkward person that disrupts meetings, annoys other students, and scares away the rest. All of a sudden every decision is made with this person in mind; "we cannot go there because Negative Neil really likes that place and will make everyone feel uncomfortable." Strategic, future-focused planning gets pushed aside as you strive to make your ministry Negative Neil proof.
Ministry Start-up Reality: There will ALWAYS be extremely positive and negative people involved in your ministry. They should never receive more priority in making decisions than your vision.
Dictionary.com second definition is powerful: "the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be." If you are not taking your ministry to a place they have not been before then you are notleading--you are managing. You cannot take a ministry to a new place without vision.
When crafting a vision here are some important elements to include:
- One foundation passage of Scripture that deeply resonates with your heart AND the context of your ministry start-up. If your passion is disconnected from your context then you are in the wrong role and should not start the ministry.
- Extending brainstorming/discussion: The more time you and your team spend verbally processing and refining your passions the more true buy-in you will have with the vision. Remember as soon as you leave the room your team will lose approximately 50% of the vision--and they will be the ones interacting with students and living out the vision in front of them. This is one of those times when it's appropriate to follow rabbit-trails and engage tangents--especially if they come from your team members--these can provide valuable insights to you as a leader to know what they really think about certain issues and provide specific ways for you to continue to align them down the room.
- Crafting a vision statement: the end of the chapter will list some resources to explore in terms of tactically generating this, but again this could and should take up at least one full day (eight hours) of planning time. This can be painstaking to wordsmith a vision statement and haggle over words that seem exactly the same. But that's not the point. The point is to *increase team buy in and allow you to lead them at the intersection of the spiritual and the real--think about it: your vision statement synthesizes the eternal with the local---nothing else you do in ministry lands on that intersection quite so nicely.
- Pissed Positivism: Most vision statements I've heard FAIL to capture the passion of the leaders. They sound intellectual/smart/cool but rarely sound passionate/convicted/urgent. If your vision statement does not speak to the urgency of your local situation as well as provide a compelling solution/response to that problem then it's not a vision statement.
- Jesus Jesus Jesus: The vision has to be focused on Christ. Everything else will fail to tap into our significance or the true needs and realities of the place where you are starting your ministry.