The Importance of Vision

March 22, 2021Inline Text Rod Irvine
anna-earl-XBDHmIXvsvM-unsplashDecision Time: You will have heard of a common scenario. St Johns Church has a healthy vital ministry, for example a kids’ ministry based around a flourishing Sunday school. It is really humming. There are 200 kids showing up every Sunday morning. There is a dedicated enthusiastic team of volunteer leaders led by a dynamic volunteer leader who just loves the ministry and pours his or her life into it. The congregation look on and are very pleased. Parents are delighted to know their children are in a great Christian community, making friends and learning the scriptures. Grandparents are thrilled as they see the next generation being taught Christian truth to prepare them for life in a secular age. The minister is delighted to see such a thriving work that contributes to the overall health and well-being of the church as a whole.

But there is a cloud on the horizon. The dynamic leader, a Jack or Jill Jones, becomes ill, or gets a time consuming promotion at work or is transferred interstate. For one reason or another they cannot continue in the role. They have tried to train up a successor and another leader steps in to fill the role and this person takes over. Yet it is not the same. The new person just doesn’t have the leadership capacity. The volunteers start finding reasons why their lives are too busy. The programs don’t engage and the numbers start dropping. In a couple of years the ministry is a fraction of its former size and the congregation look wistfully back to the good old days when Jack or Jill was here.

What has happened? There was a critical turning point when the key leader left. It was a point where things could drift, decline or be advanced to the next level. The simple fact is that people like the original dynamic leader are not easy to find as pure volunteers. Yes they do exist, but not in huge numbers, so that it is unlikely your church will have another A star leader ready to step in even if you have a leadership training program. There are people who have the time but not the capacity and there are others who have the capacity but not the time.

If this is a vital work in your church, my advice to the leadership is to hire a specialist to come onto the staff, full or part time to lead the ministry forward. The role of such a person is to continue the momentum, bring fresh skills, resources and specialized knowledge to expand the ministry. Above all, this person must have the capacity to deal with increased complexity, think on a three to five year time scale, and to cast and execute a compelling vision. It is vital that they must be able to train, multiply and support the volunteers. Naturally this is quite a tall order and an exhaustive search must be undertaken to find just the right person who will fit your church’s ministry and culture. They are out there and you will have to search long and hard, but the rewards of finding the right person are fantastic.

Now this will be a brand new staff position so there will probably be no money to fund this position. But please don’t let that deter you! It is up to the senior minister prayerfully to cast a compelling vision demonstrating what this person will do, why the ministry is important and how it will further the work of the gospel in your church. Sometimes stepping out in faith with no money is more than a little scary but at Figtree Anglican with the support of staff and key lay leaders we did this fruitfully on a number of occasions. You can read about the process in my book Giving Generously. Buy the Book