How I Lead My Ministry Team with Vision (and how you can do the same)

Posted by Aaron Buer on October 6, 2016

Vision.

We talk about it all the time.

It’s the subject of a bazillion leadership books, blogs and conferences.

We all know it’s important but how do we... you know... actually lead with vision. Vision just seems like one of those things that is hard to define and even harder to implement. So, practically speaking, how do we lead with vision?

I have a few ideas.

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DEFINE YOUR PERSONAL MISSION

The best leaders in the world know what they are about. They are in touch with their passions and dreams, and these passions and dreams are running in the same direction as their leadership skills and roles. The first step in leading with vision is defining your personal mission. How do you do this? Wrestling through a few pointed questions will get you moving in the right direction.

  1. What breaks your heart?
  2. What keeps you up at night?
  3. What makes you jump up out of your seat in excitement?
  4. What could you talk about for hours and hours?

Here’s a glimpse into my heart as a youth pastor to help you understand how this works:

  1. Students walking away from Jesus and the church in life after our student ministry breaks my heart.
  2. Students who don’t have a mature adult in their life as a small group leader or mentor keeps me up at night.
  3. Seeing a picture on Instagram of a small group leaders meeting with their small group years after these students graduated from our ministry will always get me up out of my seat and into a celebratory dance.
  4. I could talk for hours and hours about our ministry structure and how we empower caring adults to mentor students.

My personal mission is to develop life-long faith in students. The primary way I accomplish this is through empowering spiritually maturing adults to mentor students. That’s what I’m about. It’s my mission. My personal mission directly influences the vision of the ministry I lead.

What is it that you are about? What is your personal mission? Leading with vision begins with discovering and articulating your personal mission.

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COLLABORATE OVER OUR VISION

I believe that the best way to create organizational vision for your church is to collaborate in the creation of that vision. When a group of leaders, who know what their personal missions are, work together to define a “together” vision, good things happen!

I would suggest that a key aspect to leading with vision is inviting others to help create the vision. When this happens, key stakeholders will help you drive the vision. If you want to move in this direction, gather your key staff for a day and seek to answer only one question:

If we do what God is calling us to do, how will the world be different?

The answer to this question will lead you to your collaborative vision.

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CHAMPION YOUR VISION

Let’s be real, most churches have, at least, a sense of what their vision is. The problem usually isn’t a lack of clarity around the vision. The problem is a lack of movement toward the vision.

We’ve all been there. There’s an off-site meeting where we create a compelling vision and everyone is excited. Fast forward 2 months and no one can exactly remember what that statement was and everything has settled back into what was. Why? No one championed the vision.

This is an issue of leadership. Hold on! I’m not saying you’re a bad leader. I’m just saying you may need a new approach.

In order for vision to be transformative in a church, someone has to carry the banner. Someone has to be the vision champion. In our church we often talk about operationalizing our values and our vision. This just a fancy way of saying, “How are we going to implement this vision?” We get very specific and designate a leader to champion the process.

For those of you have achieved clarity on what the vision is but are struggling to create momentum toward implementing the vision, it may be time to designate a vision champion.

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A ROADMAP TO YOUR VISION

Maybe you’re saying "I don’t think that’s it".

We have a champion.

Our senior pastor is constantly talking about the vision.

The problem is that we have no idea how to get there.

In this case, you don’t need a champion. You need a roadmap. This is another common obstacle because people who are like me, dreamers, are often poor implementers. In other words, I can paint a compelling picture of vision but I probably can’t tell you how to get there. This requires a roadmap.

A roadmap simply shows you how to get to your vision. In our student ministry, our vision is to develop life-long faith in students. How do we accomplish this? Here’s our road map:

  • Life-changing truth (We constantly point students to God’s Truth in the Bible)
  • Life-changing relationships (Every student needs a peer community and a spiritual mentor)
  • Life-changing experiences (Our retreats, camps and serving trips should be milestone events in the spiritual development of our students)

That’s it. It’s pretty simple but this roadmap directs everything we do. Every new idea is filtered through our vision and our roadmap. Our staff is built around our vision and roadmap.

If you’re struggling with actually making progress toward your vision, it might be time to develop a roadmap.

So, how do you lead with vision? Here’s a recap of my 4 ideas:

  1. Spend some time defining your personal mission
  2. Collaborate with other key players over the vision for your church or organization
  3. Designate a champion who can drive vision
  4. Create a clear roadmap to help you make progress toward your vision.

Leading with vision is not complicated but it is difficult. It takes tenacity and persistence.

We’d love to hear your ideas on how to lead with vision.

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments below.

Topics: Advice

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