Vision Casting in Action
By Jim Wideman
‘If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time!” The Bible says it this way: “Where there is no vision, the people perish’ (Proverbs 29:18, KJV). I like to say it this way: “Where there is vision, people flourish:’
You must start with your vision. Where do you want your ministry to be? You’ll never see your dreams and vision come to pass without a clear understanding of where you’re going, why you want to go there, and how you’ll get there. In children’s ministry, you need a vision in each age group or ministry that makes up the overall vision.
Vision casting is simply this: communicating the vision so others make your vision their own. Why is this so important? Vision determines action and outcome. Over the past 33 years,
I’ve thought many times about quitting children’s ministry. In the early years, it was every Monday. So why didn’t I quit? It’s simple-my vision wouldn’t allow me to quit Then I realized something: If my vision wouldn’t let me quit, and if [ could put this vision into others who help and serve, they wouldn’t quit either.
So how do you successfully cast your vision in a way that others grasp it and own it? Take these seven steps.
1. Discover your vision. Pray, dream, and hear from God first-hand what he wants for the children’s ministry you lead. I love to be still before the Lord and listen to the possibilities and God’s desires for my ministry. Ask and you shall find. When I draw close to him, he always draws close to me. Ask him for a picture of your end result.
2. Write it out. Take those thoughts and dreams and turn them into words. You’ll never turn your vision into reality until you’ve turned it into words. Habakkuk 2:2 is a great verse. It says to write the vision down and make it plain so they that read it can run with it. As I write and study my vision, I compare and examine my leadings with the written Word of God.
3. Simplify it. That verse in Habakkuk not only tells me to write down the vision but to also make it plain. I try to put my vision into a single sentence if possible-two or three at the most. Let the main thing be the main thing. Concentrate first on the “what”; the “how” will come next. Run your vision by people who don’t help in your ministry; make sure it’s simple enough for them to understand. Now write it down, keep it before you, and write it on every publication. Commit it to memory and talk it up every time you’re before people. If your team can’t easily remember it, it’s too long.
4. Create a plan to bring your vision to pass. Planning must always go before action. You’ve started with the end in sight-now go to the beginning. Determine exactly where you are. Then begin to think in small manageable steps or short-term goals. Focus on each step in the process, being careful not to move too quickly or to skip a step.
5. Create structure to make it happen. Structure is the key to being able to move in the direction God wants you to go. You know where you want to go and you have a plan to get there. Now identify the people, positions, and giftings needed to pull it off. It’s not enough to just write job descriptions; you need to also create policies and develop systems to make ministry work.
6. Communicate your vision. In every way possible, share the vision and plan with your key leaders and staff. This is where you take what you’ve done so far and give it away. Casting vision is hard work and cannot be accomplished with just one method or in your spare time. Use video, interviews, and meetings. Spend time with the level of leaders directly under you, and help them own the vision. This is an important step because they’ll impart your vision to others and you’ll not be alone in the vision-casting process. Develop this as part of your lifestyle.
7. Convey the vision to your entire team. Teach and explain your philosophy of ministry. Teach on your mission and overall goal. Teach your structure. If your team doesn’t understand the vision, they won’t flourish. Teach vision specifics-things like what you want each child to become after they complete each ministry within your children’s department. Teach your plan in steps so it can be easily followed and understood.
As Baby Boomers retire, they’ll leave a significant void in the workforce. What will be the most significant loss? Institutional vision was the # 1 answer of the leaders polled by the Center for Creative Leadership, followed by knowledge (content expertise), external and internal personal networks (relationships and partnerships), skills (technical expertise), and historical context (key events and meaningful stories). Only 47% of those polled had a well-defined succession plan in place. The good news? According to Millenials Rising authors Howe and Strauss, the Millenial generation of workers (born from 1982 to 2002) is considered hard working and eager to build community.
Every 11 minutes-that’s how many times the average person is interrupted at work, says a report in New York Times Magazine. Senior executives use the following strategies to minimize the interruptions:
1. Close their office doors
2. Prioritize their calendars
3. Use executive assistants
4. Turn off phones; allow urgent calls and meetings only
6. Limit email
Another idea: Have a common visual signal throughout the department that indicates your level of busyness-a red scarf hanging above your desk, for example, can tell others that you’re on deadline. All staff should have the same opportunity to use the signal.
This article by Jim Wideman is excerpted from childrensministry.com/leaders, July 2008.