Are there steps church leaders should follow to “get vision and lead the church?”
Yes but a pastor/church leader must first satisfy these pre-conditions.
- Knowledge of theology. Not simply an understanding of Systematics (although such knowledge is important) but a real concern for how people live out their values (theology) in the community.
- Knowledge of current events. Too many pastors/church leaders are satisfied with “sprinkling” current events into sermons. Assuming that the mission of the church is to make known the way of Jesus to the world, is there a place in the surrounding community where His love might be demonstrated? A specific church’s vision will combine theology with practical application in pursuing the mission of the church.
- Relational Leadership. The pastor/ church leader must know what is going on with the people in the group. “Getting vision” is not an academic exercise to be done in the office with pen and paper. As argued in a previous post it requires knowledge of the patterns of behavior in the church, knowledge gained from relationships with the people.
- Steadfastness. Vision is not a quick fix. The work of “getting vision” requires input from the people in the congregation. God works through this process to change the attitudes and behavior of His people.
With these necessary conditions met, here are the first steps to be taken by the pastor/ church leader:
- Pray. Obvious, but so often neglected in the process.
- Identify the gap between theology and behavior. A pastor is responsible for focusing people’s attention on the gaps between values (theology) and behavior. For example, suppose a church uses 80% of its resources to minister to itself and 20% to minister outside the church. This inward focus might indicate a gap between: the mission of the church (“go into the world and make disciples”), and a consumerist tendency centered on comfort and preference. The gap between theology and behavior is always the place of vision.
- Teach about the gap by addressing values, attitudes and behavior. Do NOT offer specific solutions at this point in the “envisioning process.” For example, the answer to an inward focused ministry is NOT a mandate that all ministries will contain “an outreach component.” Instead, church leaders should treat members as responsible adults. This means people are responsible for attitudinal change. They process what new behavior is necessary, resulting new vision. How?
The next steps are addressed in a following post.