Leadership Skill: Goal-Setting & Vision Casting

How easy it can be for leaders to be busy with a lot of activity but accomplish little. Progress seems to elude so many church and ministry leaders who struggle to maintain the present, go in every direction, or are constantly absorbed in "putting out fires" rather than working toward the future.
The Apostle Paul repeated the need to "press on" (Phil. 3:10-16) not wanting to run the race "like a man running aimlessly" lest he run in vain (1 Cor. 9:26). Running a race requires advancing. People who run to win the race can't do so by . . .
  • moving in place (leaders who merely maintain status quo)
  • getting detoured by every sign of danger (leaders who constantly operate in crisis mode)
  • running around in circles or off course (leaders who are easily distracted by non-essentials)


Running a race requires knowing where you should go and setting goals to get there.
  1. Goals must evolve from your purpose.
    Unless you know the essence of who God wants the Church to be and do, you could end up accomplishing little that counts for eternity though you appear to be in constant motion. For this reason God's Purpose for the Church is considered a leadership basic. If you seem to be "spinning your wheels," perhaps it is time to get back to the basics.
    Vision is the expression of your purpose.
       -- What might the fulfillment of God's purpose look like in your ministry?
  2. Goal-setting must be enveloped in prayer.
    Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Prov. 3:5-6)
    Paul prayed for the Philippian church that they would be able to grasp their purpose (that their "love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight") so they would "be able to discern what is best" (Phil. 1:9-11) Paul knelt before the Father for the Ephesian Church that they "being rooted and established in love" (purpose) may understand His love that they "may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God" (Eph. 3:14-19).
    Prayer is essential to discerning God's direction for your church.
       -- How often do you pray about God's vision for your church?
  1. Goals, by their very nature, envision the future.
    Look ahead to the next 5-10 years. If you pursue God's purposes for your church, what might that look like? Where might He take you? Yet, don't hold on so tightly to those goals that you miss the Spirit's prompting to change course. Don't make your goals into gods. Let God be God. He is the Potter; you are the clay. He has the prerogative to shape and reshape your church for His purposes.
    God's purpose never changes. God's purpose is the essence of who you are based on the essence of who He is. Your church's vision, how you express His purpose, might change as you continue to trust Him each step of the way. Sometimes He sends us down a certain path to put into place what is needed for His next move. Read through Scripture and you will find that God has been known to take people in a certain direction, only to change course. You see it in the covenants He has made with His people. Think of the New Covenant of Jesus' blood setting aside the law. Yet, His overall purpose has not changed ... that of reconciling people to Himself and bringing them into a love relationship with Him.
    So, while you want to envision what the ministry could look like years into the future, revisit those goals every year, praying over them, and trust God to guide you in the way you should go one year at a time. Revise as needed. -- "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight." (Prov. 3:5-6)
  2. Goal-setting should express faith.
While we need to be good stewards of what God has given us, we also need to trust Him for what is unseen. Guard against limiting your goals to current resources. Remember verses like Ephesians 3:20-21. -- "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen."
If down the road the resources still aren't available, perhaps it isn't God's will but maybe it simply still isn't the right timing. This is why point number two is so critical -- Envelope all you do in prayer.

Vision Casting

You established goals that line up with God's purposes for the church, born out of prayer and faith, envisioning what God might want to do in and through you in the future. Hopefully you invited others to partner with you in this process. Before you engage in strategic planning on how to implement those goals, you should be starting to cast the vision for what God might want to do through your body.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate the vision. Ask others to be praying.
  • Prioritize, setting short-term and long-term goals based on need.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate the vision. Ask others to be praying.
  • Then you are ready to engage in strategic planning for those goals that can and should be immediately realized.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate the vision. Ask others to be praying.
  • And don't forget to move into action.
  • Once again, communicate, communicate, communicate the vision. Ask others to be praying.
Hopefully you have gotten the point. Communication and prayer are extremely vital to vision casting. You want people to come on board so they need to know the whys and wherefores as well as the objectives. Your skills of persuasion are not enough as you are embarking on a spiritual journey. Pray God makes hearts pliable to what He wants to do and protects the Body from misunderstandings and divisions. The objective is to get people on page with God, not you. Keep perspective.
Vision casting doesn't stop once you start strategic planning or move into action so you need to keep communicating and inviting people to partner through prayer. You want the passion to be sustained. You want to be able to recruit people to participate in the accomplishment of the goals. You want God to be given the glory. Consequently, you need to communicate, communicate, communicate the vision, expressing faith in God to guide and provide. Ask others to keep praying.
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