I have worked with hundreds of churches over the last fifteen years. I can assure you that “vision” can be seen and felt in a community, when that community shares a common vision for their future. A leader or community with vision sends vibes which electrify everything they do.
So what are the three ingredients in this sought after culture?
1) Imagine what can be
Visionary leaders see things and events as they can be. This applies to relationships, motives, and actions. These leaders see things seemingly out of reach but don’t waiver in their desire to reach out for this “new creation.”
2) Keep reality in mind
Visionary leaders, not dreamers, see the reality of where a community of faith is today, with limitations or broken relationships, and know they can be fixed. This special leader must have the ability to see things the way they truly are so that expectations for the future can be meaningful.
3) Bring vision and reality together
Perhaps most importantly, visionary leaders can draw a line between the reality of today and prayer for tomorrow, and chart a course or path for others to follow. These leaders sometimes walk this path alone – but always, always prefer it if they can walk the path arm in arm with their community of faith. This key step requires a leader who is articulate, supportive of those whose eyes cannot see, and demonstrates their integrity and commitment every day.
Not long ago, a pastor told me that each congregation within his denomination was a “franchise” operator for denomination and the work of the church. This offhand observation still troubles me, because I think franchises are led by managers not leaders. Leaders break new ground and go places others fear, while managers color inside the lines, fearing failure, but never achieving that “new creation” that can be.
The next time you walk into a church meeting or worship service, ask yourself if you can feel the vitality and energy of visionary leadership.