We can have a clear, concise, well-written vision statement but still miss the mark in accomplishing our purpose if it doesn’t sufficiently challenge people or if it over-challenges people.
A Challenging Vision Stretches People to Higher Expressions of Our Purpose
Vision isn’t about what already exists, or what we already do. Vision takes us beyond our current state to better, deeper, or higher expressions of our church purpose. It’s about where we should or could go, not where we are or where we’ve been.
Think about love as your primary purpose. We will never fully love as He loves but we certainly can grow in that love. Our vision must take us beyond where we are so that our “love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight” (Phil. 1:9).
Leaders must be forward-looking and growth-oriented, constantly pressing on to become more and more of the people God wants us to be in Christ Jesus (Phil. 3:12).
A Challenging Vision is Attainable
While our vision should take people beyond where they are, it shouldn’t be so far out there that it’s unattainable. Let’s not overwhelm people with guilt and despair. Something too far beyond people’s reach only frustrates them. Feeling defeated, people no longer try. — “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” (Prov. 13:12)
Leaders must know where people are, “the condition of the flock“, so they know what the next step should be. People generally can only understand and reach one or two steps beyond where they are. To try to go from A to Z in one big leap brings frustration and defeat.
A Challenging Vision Must Be Fluid
If we’ve tapped into the essence of why God wants us to do what we do, our purpose should not change. We may word it differently on occasion but if biblically founded as God’s primary purpose for us, that doesn’t changes.
Using love for God and people as our purpose, we not only find these commands early in the Old Testament, but also as those identified by Jesus as the Greatest Commandments. Obviously that’s a purpose God has for His people that doesn’t change.
Yet, HOW we get there, what we need to do to accomplish our purpose, may change, especially as we grow more and more, or if we regress. Consequently, leaders must keep assessing where people are, where the church has come, and revisit and possibly update the vision.