Clarity is something people crave. Few people are satisfied with ambiguity or fuzziness in different areas of life. Take our eyesight for example. We all want to see the world around us clearly. Clear sight helps us to know where we are going, as well as helping us to avoid hazards or obstacles along the way. Sometimes, however, we don’t know how far out of focus things have become until we get a check-up. The same is true when we think about our vision, mission, and values as churches. Church leaders need clarity.
A clear understanding of our vision, mission, and values can act much like a lens in a pair of glasses. These elements of church leadership bring into focus what is before us. This clarity also acts as a filter between the good, better, and best options in terms of where church leaders should invest their time, money, and efforts. The following are some thoughts on developing a clearer vision, mission, and value set for the church as church leaders deal with growth.
1) Know who you are and what is important to you.
Each church is unique in many ways. This is a result of the complex and beautiful way God has created us and brought us together. Your church is different from the one down the road or in the next town because the people in it are different. Spend some time getting to know who you are as a church. What is important to your church body? Be sure you are doing what you collectively understand you should be doing, as opposed to doing projects influenced by a handful of people. In other words, be unified in your understanding of who you are and what is important. We must invest time in discussing these issues, capturing it in writing, and then communicating it to the congregation.
2) Know what God has called you to do.
There are a lot of different things churches can do. While there might be some basics we could all agree on, there are also unique opportunities God has placed before each church. Some of those might be based on where you are located. Inner-city churches will have different opportunities than rural ones. Keep in mind that just because another church does something does not necessarily mean your church should do it, too. Growing your church requires focus on the right ministries, the most effective activities, and the study of the Bible that will bring God’s word most pointedly into the lives of church members. Take the time to seek clarity on what God is uniquely calling your church to do.
3) Know God’s vision for your future.
A clear and compelling vision can be quite motivating and powerful for those already a part of the church. If you as a church don’t know what God’s preferred future looks like for you, why would others want to join you in trying to get there? Very often God’s vision for a church is going to cause some disruption. That is because He is stretching us and seeking to help us grow and become more like Him. Many times, God’s vision for a church will be intimidating from a human perspective. That is not bad. Lean in to it. Take the time to really seek clarity from the Lord on what He has for you as a church body. Consider local and global strategies that expand God’s Kingdom. As church leaders, be brave to determine God’s vision for you, no matter what He might be calling you as a body of believers to do. Trust Him to empower you to grow to greater heights.
4) Remain consistent.
As church leaders, we need to discipline ourselves against doing things that fall outside the vision, mission, and values. Use your vision, mission, and values to direct your plans and actions. A simple question can help: “Does doing (insert plan or action) help us move forward in achieving our vision or mission or in helping us live out our values as a church as we seek church growth?” If the answer is no, don’t do it. It really is that simple. A second follow up question can also be helpful: “Is there a better way for us to achieve our vision or mission or to live out our values as a church?” If the answer is yes, pursue that. One key here is to give some time for your plans and actions to be successful. Don’t give up right away. If God is in it, and your vision, mission and values are aligned and clear, it will still take time. Be patient but consistent. Church growth takes time and effort. Consistency with regard to vision, mission and values will make the effort so much more focused.
There are a lot of different methods and programs for helping develop vision, mission, and value statements. The key is to get to a point where your church can articulate and understand together why you exist, what you aim to do, why those things are important to you, and where it is going to take you. If you can’t say what your vision, mission, or values are in a single sentence or two each, they are likely too complicated. Work hard on this clarity and you will reap the benefits as you seek to fulfill them by having a laser-like focus on what you should be doing. Ultimately, church growth will be the result.