Crafting a compelling vision is important in many areas of life. An effective vision allows a business to grow and thrive, for example. Having a goal in mind when you begin any type of training can ensure you learn exactly what you need to succeed.
For church leaders, having a vision for ministry is critical to ensuring the best possible decisions are made. If you’re not clear where you are headed, or if everyone isn’t on the same page, problems can arise, potentially dividing your congregation. From a church design perspective, a unified vision is necessary from the very beginning, too, since that will ultimately inform what types of church designs are considered.
All of which is to say that crafting a vision matters and requires a good deal of mindful, deliberate attention right up front to support a church’s effective ministry.
Defining a Good Vision
There is a definition of vision that we like here at The McKnight Group. It comes from the book Leading Congregational Change: “a clear, shared, and compelling picture of the preferred future to which God is calling the congregation.” There are three important elements to this definition:
Clear: A vision must be easily understood by your people. It must be an understanding of your church’s purpose and goals for ministry that people can both grasp and believe in.
Shared: Your people must buy into it. It must be shared by all “stakeholders”— those who care about the future of your church, everyone from church leaders and employees to members of the congregation.
Compelling: A vision must be something that gets people excited. It needs to move them toward taking action, whether that’s making a pledge for your new church building or doing their part to share your vision with the community and bringing people into the church.
Every Church Is Different
It’s important to understand that you can’t just copy what other churches do. Every community is different, and every church will have a different mix of factors to work with.
Among these factors are demographics, community culture, spiritual gifts, and leadership experience. There’s another important one as well: the vision for ministry that God gives the leaders of each church. This is vital because if leaders aren’t committed to and excited about their vision, they will have more trouble communicating it effectively.
Leadership and the Art of the Elevator Pitch
Communicating one’s vision is just as important as creating it. Visionary leaders understand that their message must be clear and compelling so that the message resonates with stakeholders.
Sometimes church leaders get so excited about a building project or church design that they can talk about it for hours. Surprisingly, this can actually be a problem, since statistics show that people will only give you about 15 to 20 seconds to get a message across before they tune out.
That’s why we’re big believers in what business leaders call the “elevator pitch.” Think about it as a way of communicating your vision to someone in the time it takes to travel five floors on an elevator. It’s not a lot of time—and that’s the point.
A visionary leader needs to do the following two things to craft a clear, compelling elevator pitch:
- Write it down, condensing the message until it can be clearly communicated in 15 to 20 seconds.
- Practice sharing the vision repeatedly, until the message flows easily.
Your Vision, Your Church Building, and How They Connect
Hopefully, our last few posts have shown you how to craft and communicate a compelling vision for your church. In the coming weeks, we will illustrate some examples of how your vision can guide your church building project.
In the meantime, hop on over to our home page and sign up for our upcoming free i3 webinars (they’re listed toward the bottom). These give you even more opportunities to learn about church design and its potential to complement and empower your ministry.