Taking Your Vision Public, Step 1: Articulating Your Church’s Vision

You can’t take your vision public until you’ve articulated your vision. Seems like that should go without saying, right? Kind of like the assumption that you’ve got to fill the pool before you’re going to dive in. But you’d be surprised how many churches and organizations have never taken the time to understand and articulate their unique calling from God. Or maybe you wouldn’t be surprised…because you’ve been a part of them before. Maybe you’re leading one right now.

I’ve been writing and speaking about assessing and articulating vision for years now, so I’m not going to try to summarize Church Unique here. Instead, I’d like to share a couple of pieces of my recent experience in leading Vanguard University through the Vision Frame process. Over a period of about nine months, I facilitated an assessment and articulation process for a group of Vanguard’s key leaders. Each month, we would spend a day or two together, wrestling with different aspects of their Vision Frame to more clearly articulate the unique mission God has given Vanguard. I was honored to work alongside these committed, passionate leaders who have dedicated their lives to Christian secondary education.

By using Vanguard as an example, I’d like to answer the question I am most frequently asked about the Vision Frame process.

Why does it take so long to articulate vision clearly?
Many people assume that clarity means simplicity. That’s not usually the case. The best kind of clarity—clarity that provides fuel for the organization—is only find by slogging through the complexity. Only after wading into the complexity of organizational history, internal dynamics, multiple priorities, personal callings, and, most importantly, listening for God’s voice together, can a leadership team emerge with unified clarity. If you just want a nice mission statement, you can do that in a couple of hours. If you want a fully-formed vision that fills your leaders with an unquenchable fire to do whatever it takes for the cause…it will take a big longer. You can’t microwave clear, compelling vision. Period.

With Vanguard, there were many complex issues that needed to be discussed openly and honestly in the process. We included key people from these different constituent groups (faculty, staff, administration, etc.) in the core team, but at significant points in the process, we needed to hear from the wider group as well. In order for us to be able to move forward confidently, it was absolutely critical to hear the voice of the larger group. And (this is important), we had to be willing to go back and make adjustments to the way we had articulated things based on their input. There are times when a leadership team must listen and adjust and other times when a team needs to set the direction clearly, inviting everyone to join in. A wise leader knows which is which and leads accordingly.

Do you see why it takes longer than you think to fill the pool with a clearly articulated vision? You’re going to need people to help you maintain the pool and invite others to jump into the pool in the future, so you can’t do it all yourself. Articulating vision clearly is a collaborative effort, not an individual task.

Vanguard’s Vision Frame
After months of work with Vanguard, here’s the result…their Vision Frame. Over the next few posts in this series about Taking Vision Public, it’ll be important for you to have their Vision Frame in mind so that you can see how all the different pieces work together and are built on this foundation.

Mission 
Equipping students for a Spirit-empowered life of Christ-centered leadership and service.

Values
Truth – We pursue truth by knowing Christ who is Truth.
Virtue – We honor God by committing ourselves to the person and model of Jesus Christ.
Service – We develop our talents to their potential and discern God’s purpose for our lives.

Strategy
Cultivating the Spirit-empowered life in Christian experience and service
Promoting academic excellence that integrates faith and life
Providing professor-mentors in a dynamic community environment

Measures
Spiritual vitality
Academic excellence
Institutional health

As a part of articulating the Measures, we developed what we called the Vital 9, a grid of more specific mission marks in the life of each student. The Vital 9 were developed by placing the values on one side of the grid and the measures on the other side of the grid and describing the resulting attitudes and attributes that Vanguard wanted to see in each student.

This Vision Frame articulated the unique vision and approach of Vanguard, filling the pool with clear, refreshing water. That meant it was time to move on to the next step of vision-soaked communication…the tagline. We’ll cover that next time.

Download PDF

Tags: , ,

| What is MyVisionRoom? > | Back to Communication >

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of VisionRoom.com and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

See more articles by >

COMMENTS

What say you? Leave a comment!

Recent Comments
I love the intentionality here as well as the challenge to look at the data. That's missing so many times. I would like to offer a contrarian's take. Church members and regular attenders have so many ways to get information: Announcements, bulletins, social channels, relationships, and email being among the options. But brand new people are likely going to check out the website and that's it. It might be wiser for churches with limited time and resources to focus their website almost exclusively to guests. This group of people isn't looking for a calendar of events but wants to know about regular programs. They probably aren't interested in watching all of the messages but instead may want to preview one of the services. For the times we need church members to go to websites (sign up for camp, join a group, etc), we're probably better off designing and promoting a specific page rather than cluttering up the homepage.
 
— Michael Lukaszewski (@mlukaszewski)
 
A great question! Unfortunately, the Church Unique Kit is no longer available in print form. We are working on revising it and updating it into an online experience, but that project is at least six months out. An alternative is to come to an upcoming certification class. There is one May 15-18 in Houston, and October 23-26 in Atlanta.
 
— VRcurator
 
Where may I purchase the Church Unique kit?
 
— Linda Winkelman
 

Clarity Process

Three effective ways to start moving toward clarity right now.