Why You Need more than a Vision Statement
I remember the days as a lead pastor when word smithing a vision statement was of the utmost importance. Once crafted, I would post it everywhere a person may have the opportunity to read it (including the back door of the stalls in the men's bathroom). I wanted people to memorize it, understand it and quote it at a moment's notice. I think I may have been the only one who met those expectations.
Vision statements, regardless of the innovative language, does not equate vision movement
I have seen some pretty nifty vision statements plastered on church walls and printed in bulletins. I have listened as leadership teams told me how many hours they spent creating their sticky vision blurbs. I am not knocking vision statements; if you have one, roll with it. However, a vision statement alone will not cause vision movement, regardless of the innovative language used.
While working with different churches over the years, I have listened to leaders share vision. In many cases, their vision sounded more like their mission. Understanding and differentiating vision and mission is critical. When I help a church build a mission statement, I try to help them build something that captures the reason their church exists. A mission statement should answer these three questions:
1. What are we called to do as a church?
2. Who are we called to reach?
3. What makes us unique?
If you can measure it, you can grow it
Mission statements are important, however a mission (or vision) statement alone will not result in movement. Statements are stationary. They are created to be printed, read and bring identity to an organization. However, despite the crafty and inspiring language found in statements, there's one thing missing that is absolutely necessary to cause a vision to begin moving. I am talking about vision metrics. When I help a church build a vision, I like to ask questions around the metrics of their ministry (attendance, baptisms, financials, etc). After capturing their numbers on a flip chart, I like to ask these questions:
1. Where are we today?
2. Where do we want to be in the next few years?
3. What must be measured and monitored to move forward?
Wrapping metrics around a vision allows you to measure it; and if you can measure it, you can grow it. It also gives permission to ask the right questions and identify what needs attention. If you stop looking at the numbers, the vision will slowly drift into left field and by the time you notice it, consequences are inevitable.
Vision Statement < Vision Map
So what's the answer in terms of vision? Instead of creating a vision statement, think about gathering your team and create a vision map. Ask the right questions and gather the right data to get clear perspective of where you are right now. Next, ask the questions, "Where do we want to be in one year, two years, five years?" Again, it's important to look at the current numbers and then determine where you believe you'll be in the next few years. Don't be afraid to dream. God loves dreamers.
Once you have landed several vision metrics (current and future), you're ready to begin building strategic plans that will fuel and propel the vision. At the Unstuck Group, we lead churches through the StratOp process to help them determine what those strategic plans look like. When good plans are built and executed, church growth and life change happens at a higher level.