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Leaving the Past Behind: Embracing the Future

By Ashley White

Something was missing. Pastor Jason had felt it for a while, but he was afraid to speak about it because he did not know what it was or how to fix it. Yet, he kept sensing that something was wrong; in their church services, staff meetings, and the recent leadership retreat. Finally, during the last morning of the church’s annual leadership retreat, Pastor Jason pinpointed the problem: lack of vision.

As he reviewed where the church had been the previous year, the growth they had experienced, the lives saved, and the impact they had made in the community, he realized with a jolt that he was not quite sure where the church was heading next. He had a clearer idea of where they had been but not where they were going.

The moment of reckoning

Have you ever found yourself in Pastor Jason’s shoes: not exactly sure what was next or where to go? Have you had the feeling that something was missing from your ministry?

There have been several junctures in my life where, though things were running smoothly, I had to ask myself, “I know how I got here and why I got here, but where am I going next?”

As humans, we were created never to be satisfied with just one level of growth. We were created with a drive for adventure, to know God, and to make God known. To grow “from glory to glory” as indicated in Scripture.

The moment of reckoning—where you realize that one season of life has ended and it is time to begin a new one—can be scary. Multiply that with the weight of tens, hundreds, or thousands of lives waiting for your lead in the next step, and the weight can seem unbearable. I understand and want you to know that you are not alone.

There is a simple, powerful Scripture that gives us a key for knowing how to navigate the transition of expanded vision that leads to personal and corporate church growth. Habakkuk 2:1-3 (NAS) says,

“I will stand on my guard post

And station myself on the rampart,

And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me,

And how I may reply when I am reproved.

Then the Lord answered me and said,

‘Record the vision

And inscribe it on tablets,

That the one who reads it may run.

For the vision is yet for the appointed time;

It hastens toward the goal and it will not fail.

Though it tarries, wait for it;

For it will certainly come, it will not delay.’”

As pastors, we are frontline warriors who are responsible for seeing ahead to where God wants to take our churches, cities, and nation. But to accomplish that, it is necessary to spend time before the Lord to keep our vision clear and fresh.

As we start this new year, and as God is preparing us for a growing season, I want to share with you 4 steps that will help you to regain and renew your vision for your church.

1. Set aside adequate time to seek the Lord.

This is where you are the guard standing on the post to see what God will say (Habakkuk. 2:1). Daily devotions seem like the obvious first step, but I am talking about more here. I challenge you to spend a day or more per week specifically praying for God to renew your vision for the church. Once God has revealed something to you, take some time to meditate on that vision. I have found that understanding the vision is necessary in order for you to relay that vision to others in the church.

2. Make an action plan to implement the vision.

Be specific about what God is showing you. Does the vision mean fine-tuning your church’s youth ministry, growing your outreach department, building up leaders within the ministry, or growing your church's deeper understanding of God’s Word? Consider the following questions to help you create a plan of action for implementing your renewed vision for your ministry:

  • What will it take to see the vision come to life?
  • Will I need to restructure church services or change our curriculum?
  • How will this change in vision affect our current budget plans and calendar?
  • Will this change require new staff? Do we hire new staff?
  • What commitment will the vision require from your current team?
  • What type of training will your leaders need to outwork the new direction for your ministry?

The Bible says that we write the vision so that those who read it can “run.” This renewed vision will give fresh energy to the legs of those who have been running this race with you.

3. Create a plan to communicate this vision to your church.

When you receive a renewed vision from the Lord, do not just share it with anyone. You want to be strategic about those with whom you share it. I suggest that you first share it with your leadership team, which you can choose to do during a leadership meeting or leadership retreat. You want those who are closest to you and who knows your heart to hear the vision first. They will most likely catch on to the vision more quickly and they can help the rest of the church get on board.

Keep in mind that the goal is to articulate the vision not as your own but as the vision God has for the church. When you do that, not only will the church leadership jump on board, but so will the rest of the congregation.

4. Stay encouraged; the vision will work if you work it!

This is key. Remember, the vision hastens towards the end goal and will not fail if we are faithful to run with it. If you are faithful to write the vision, communicate it to your church, and give them a strategy to implement it, then the vision will encourage you all to reach the end goal.

There is much more.

Every day, we have the privilege of assisting pastors in articulating the vision that God has placed in their hearts. Perhaps there is something stirring in your heart and soul regarding the direction of the church. You can feel the Lord wants to do something new in your church this year, but you just cannot quite put words to it.

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