How To Lead Your Team To Fulfill A Vision
In our work as Search Consultants, we spend a lot of time with churches and faith-based organizations learning about their mission, vision, values and organizational culture.
While most organizations have a fairly clear vision statement, I have noticed that sometimes the vision statement has very little impact on how the organization functions. There are a lot of reasons for this. Ministry is relentless; Sunday comes every week. Christmas, Easter, and the Fall launches new programs every year. Many organizations have a de facto vision to simply make it through the season avoiding a significant mistake. This is understandable but not sustainable. To push your team towards your long-term vision, you need to have a better plan in place.
1. Make sure everyone on your team knows the vision
This seems obvious, but sometimes I will ask about the vision of the church organization and only a few team members can explain it to me. Sometimes this happens because the vision is too complicated or too broad to have impact, but most often it happens because the vision is not actually relevant to how the organization functions day-to-day or year-to-year.
As you evaluate your current vision statement, ask yourself these questions:
- Is it specific and unique to your context?
- Is it inspirational?
- Is it clear and concise?
- Is it memorable?
- Is it something you talk about with your team and leadership on a regular basis?
- Can everyone in leadership not only remember it, but can they talk about how it impacts what you do and why you do it?
2. Encourage your team to own the vision
Owning the vision means your team will not only be able to recite the vision, but talk about how that vision affects both what they do in their ministry and how they apply it in their own lives.
Have your team talk about this in your staff meetings or retreats. How are they fleshing out this vision in their own ministry and in their own lives? For example, if part of your vision includes reaching lost people and helping them discover a new life in Christ, then what are they doing in their specific ministry to live that out? And what are they doing in their personal lives to connect with unchurched people in their community?
3. Resource it
To effectively lead your team to fulfill the vision, you will need provide the resources to enable your team to fulfill it.
You will need to make some hard decisions about allocating facilities, staff, and budget in a way that will help you achieve the vision God has set before you. Everyone has to deal with limited resources, and often churches will end up allocating resources to legacy ministries or staff positions that won’t direct it towards its mission.
As you seek to resource the vision, ask yourself these questions:
- What resources will you need to make progress toward your vision?
- Do you need to hire a new staff person to resource the vision?
- Do you need to realign your team?
- What about facilities? If you have a vision to serve your community, do your facilities reflect that?
- Do you have staff allocated to help you do that effectively?
It’s important to note that making the effort to fulfill your vision will be costly. It might require in a change in ministry approach or worship style, or updated/remodeled facilities. Some of your staff will need to get off the bus or move to a different seat on the bus. Some of your constituents won’t like the changes you will need to make and they will complain or even leave.
If you back down in the face if these costs, your team will know you are not truly committed to the vision. They will go back to doing their own thing and trying to fulfill their own vision in their area of responsibility.
4. Execution is everything
To lead a team to fulfill a vision, you need to act on it.
If you are going to mobilize your team to fulfill the vision, everyone (including the lead pastor, elders and leadership) must know that they will be held accountable to fulfilling their part of the vision.
This will require that you establish targets that your team will be measured against. Many faith-based organizations push back when you talk about measurable goals, but without them, you cannot know if you are making progress toward achieving the vision.
Start by gathering as a team and ask these questions:
- What would it look like if we were successful?
- What will be different in our organization, in our community in 6 months, in 1 year, 2 years, and 5 years
- What are our short term and long term goals? How will we know we hit the target?
In every area, someone will need to be responsible for holding the team accountable to achieving those targets, helping them problem solve when they hit a roadblock, and evaluate their progress.
While most faith-based leaders can quote Proverbs 29:18, “Without a vision, the people perish,” having a vision and not acting on it is no different than having no vision at all.
What is your vision for your organization? Does your team know it and own it? Is your organization resourcing your team to pursue that vision?