How To Develop A Compelling Vision For Your Organization
By: Jay Mitchell
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.
In this time, I’ve learned that many organizations lack a clear and compelling vision of what they believe are uniquely called to do. Instead of being focused on accomplishing something great, they have a vision so broad that it is unable to propel the culture forward.
The Stoic Philosopher Seneca once wrote:
If one does not know to which port one is sailing, no wind is favorable.
Part of the problem is that there is some confusion about the difference between Mission, Vision, and Values.
This the reason your organization exists. In faith-based organizations, this is usually tied to the Great Commission (“Go and make disciples”) and Great Commandment (“Love God and Love People”).
These describe how you operate (or hope to operate) as a culture. They describe how you act while you live out your mission in the pursuit of your vision.
It describes what you hope to achieve through your work. It will paint a picture of how the world around you will be different because of the work that you do.
If you’d like a simple definition, a vision is compelling picture of a preferred future.
The right vision can capture hearts and mobilize people to action. The right vision can draw talent to your team that wants to be a part of it. And it can help you change the world as you pursue it.
So what are the elements of a compelling vision?
1. A compelling vision will be specific and unique to your setting.
Rather than just a broad statement fitting to any organization, a compelling vision with be specifically tailored to your unique setting and calling. You cannot construct an appropriate vision without first knowing yourself and your unique place within your community.
Before creating a vision statement, find out who you are, who you wish to be, and what you wish to accomplish. What makes you unique within your community? Is it your location? Is it your approach to ministry? Is it your preaching or worship style? Your facilities?
Similarly, ask yourself, who are you trying to reach and serve? “We want to reach everyone” is too broad to be compelling. Are you trying to reach people who are de-churched or unchurched? Are you trying to grow and develop leaders?
2. A compelling vision will be inspirational.
It will express a big, audacious goal that will motivate and inspire your team to stretch beyond their natural limits to achieve something great. It will issue a call-to-action for your team to pursue something that will make a lasting difference in your community. Lastly, it will also give a clear measure that will help your team members know when they are making progress to fulfill that vision.
3. A compelling vision will be clear and concise.
Preachers aren’t generally known for being concise. If we can say it in 2 sentences, we’d rather create a paragraph to be sure we aren’t misunderstood. For your vision statement to useful and compelling, it needs to short and sweet - no more than 2-3 sentences.
4. A compelling vision needs to be memorable.
Your vision statement should be something that everyone involved with your organization can recite and (more importantly) internalize.
A compelling vision won’t guarantee that your organization will be successful – it will need to be implemented in your context. Without a compelling vision, however, your organization could lose momentum and miss out on great opportunities to make a difference in your community, region, and world.
How can your church begin to develop its vision for the future?