Where there is no vision, the people perish. (Proverbs 29:18)
I’ve used this scripture every time I’ve met with a church to do vision planning. However, I have met with a lot of churches without a vision and none of them have perished yet. So I’d like to translate this passage for you, or better yet, offer you a verse from my own personal gospel (I didn’t live in the time when the canon was chosen, and it might be heresy anyway).
“The blind can’t see where to go.” 1 Dietrich 14:16 or
“Without direction, the people go nowhere and anywhere all at once.” 1 Dietrich 21:12 (it’s a long gospel)
There are plenty of famous sayings like, “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there” from our friendly cat in Alice in Wonderland, and “If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else” from Laurence J. Peter, but I’m sure you’ll agree they aren’t as direct as my sayings.
All this is to say that good vision planning sets a direction and course for a ministry or organization. A strong vision plan has three primary parts: a vision statement, a mission statement, and a strategic ministry action plan (MAP).
What is the vision of your church or youth ministry? How does it inform the leadership and your members where you are going?
Some refer to the vision of an organization as the preferred reality that we hope to live into. Vision should inspire hope that in the future, things will be different than they are today. So a youth ministry vision statement might be:
Young people transformed by the love of God to change the world.
Mission is about who we are and how we are going to get to our preferred reality. Both are extraordinarily important for the success of any ministry or organization. A youth ministry mission statement might be:
The youth of “Main Street Church” seek to know God, love God, and serve God.
The strategic ministry action plan or MAP will provide concrete (measurable) steps and benchmarks of how we are going to get from our current reality to our preferred reality by living out our mission. Main Street Church’s know God section of their MAP might look something like:
- Step 1: Develop a small group ministry reaching 40 youth.
- Benchmark 1: Start one junior high and one senior high small group to begin in August with at least six students in each group
- Benchmark 2: Recruit four small group leaders by July to work with these small groups
- Step 2: Create a 6-year curriculum plan for youth Sunday school
- Benchmark 1: Evaluate 6-year curricula and evaluate how they were set up. Decide whether to use one of those curricula or to develop your own plan from scratch.
- Benchmark 2: Layout a plan for the first year of the 6-year curriculum for each Sunday school.
You get the idea. If your ministry is not going where you want it to, there is a good chance that you have not created a defined MAP to fulfill your clearly articulated vision and mission.
The most effective ministries follow their MAPs and stay focused on the vision and mission God has given them. Take time this week to evaluate whether your ministry can imagine the promised land and is putting all their energy and efforts towards reaching it, or if it is wandering around aimlessly in the desert.