Why Visions Fail

In my interactions with pastors and churches over the past few months, discussions of re-creating or reviving vision within their ministry has been a frequent topic.  Most understand that we are entering a new season of ministry as we emerge from the global pandemic. Some are discovering that they will have to ignite a fire and re-energize the motivations of some congregants for the church’s mission. Our discussions center on why visions fail as leaders craft and attempt to cast a compelling vision to propel the church forward. Here are four take-ways from those discussions:  

1. Confusing vision with goals and strategy plans. Goals are markers and signposts toward the destination. Strategy plans are the how-tos that help us accomplish vision, but they are deficient in giving us the visual images and pictures that will stir the heart and create passion to do the work.

2. There is no sense of urgency to move forward and people are content with maintaining the status quo. There is no pressure or problem that forces transformation.  Usually, loss of members or money are adequate motivators. However, a praying church will be in tune to God’s Spirit and benefit from the fresh leading of the Lord.

3. The leadership lacks the means to communicate vision or develop a structure to accomplish it. Leaders have to inspire others to get on board and then have the ability to build a transportation system to take the ministry train to its destination. Some leaders are great at erecting a façade like on a movie set, but it is only propped up by planks and nails to create an illusion with no true substance. 

4. The vision is either too insignificant for people to give their time, talent, and treasure to, or it is cast so broadly that it seems improbable that it can be accomplished by those who must carry it out. Visions fail because they are either too small and suffer with dwarfism or are too lofty and suffer from elephantiasis. Prayer and ongoing healthy discussion with key leadership will contribute to a balanced ministry. 

As you craft a new vision or refurbish an existing one make sure it:

  • touches the heart to create passion,
  • is full of hope,
  • paints a picture of a desired future that overcomes the world’s distress and pain,
  • builds unity within the church and its leadership,
  • and depends on God’s Spirit and direction to right size the vision and access His power.

Posted on April 9, 2021

Pastor Tyrone E. Barnette is a native of Roxboro, North Carolina. He is the senior pastor of Peace Baptist Church in Decatur, Georgia. He earned a Master of Divinity at Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University and is currently pursuing his Doctor of Ministry degree in Strategic Leadership from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.
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