Why vision? It’s a buzzword that is thrown around a lot in ministry. But for good reason! Nothing happens without a clear, intentional vision for your ministry. Nothing. You will run around in circles forever until you’ve got that figured out. (Been there, done that.) But, how do you do this effectively? How do you make vision more than just a cool word, and an actual reality in your ministry?
Obvious? Perhaps. But unexpressed expectations are never met. The same can be said of vision. A vision that isn’t said—verbally, with words, that is—will never be reached or even understood. You have to do this clearly. From day one. Ideally, this is determined by you, the ministry leader, and anyone in your immediate circle. Involve volunteers if you like, but sometimes that can be tricky, so it’s often more effective to ask for ideas, rather than direct involvement in crafting this statement. Focus on input from staff and leadership around you to make sure that you are saying everything you need to say.
Once you’ve said it to yourself and those around you, you have to say it to your team. Your first meeting with a new volunteer should include a vision conversation. Have a print-out for them to read and take with them. Send it to them in an email prior to your meeting, maybe. Speak it, write it, and have it readily available.
You’re not off the hook once you’ve determined what your vision is and you’ve said it to your team once. Vision has to be clearly communicated over and over again. This is something you’re saying in prayer meetings before services and at volunteer nights and year-end ministry evaluations. You take every opportunity you can to meaningfully and intentionally repeat your vision—maybe not in the same words every time, but with the same heart and the same essence. It should be something that your team understands and fully embraces with both hands. There can never be a shortage of communication, period—But especially when it comes to expectations and vision for your ministry. Don’t ever just say it once and think that’s enough.
The hardest part of this process is transferring your ministry’s vision to others—getting it into the hearts of leaders and equipping them to multiply the vision. It’s hard, because a lot of this is outside of your direct control. That’s why it’s so important to be so clear from the beginning! Because if you do your job well in establishing and saying all of this to your teams, it will be something that they internalize to the point of being able to transfer it to others. My most effective champions for my ministry were always my team who got it. They know so many more people than I do! And when they get it and have bought into the team ethos, they tell their friends. Who tell their friends. Who tell . . . well, you get it. It’s contagious. Clear vision spreads like wildfire. And people want to be a part of a team where there’s this kind of clarity.
Obviously, vision for the sake of vision is not the point here. You say, repeat, and transfer your vision not to make you look good or to advance the popularity of your ministry, but so that you can do effective ministry in the name of Jesus. The more you focus on the importance of this, the more you can do good work and involve even more people in telling others about the greatest story.