You’ve heard me say this over and over again. “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time!” I believe you’ll never see your dreams and vision come to pass without a clear understand of where you are going, why you want to go there and how are you to get there.
Vision is important. Every Christian leader knows by heart “Where there’s no vision people perish.” I like to say it this way, “Where there is vision people flourish.” I think in every list I have ever come up with in one of my leadership club lessons, it’s started with…“Start with your vision.” To me, a vision identifies how you want your ministry to end up. With this in mind in children’s ministries, there is a vision in each age group or ministry that makes up the overall vision.
Vision casting is simply communicating the vision so others make your vision their own. Why is this so important? Vision determines action and outcome.
Over the past 35 years I have thought many times about quitting children’s ministry. In the early years it was every Monday, in my 40s it was so I could become a senior pastor. 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, if I could put this vision into others who help and serve they wouldn’t quit either. (You can read all about this in my book Volunteers That Stick.
So how do you successfully cast your vision in a way that others grasp it and own it? I’m glad you asked. Let’s look at seven steps.
1. Start with discovering your vision. Pray, dream and hear from God firsthand what he wants for the children’s ministry you lead. I love to be still before the Lord and imagine the possibilities and His 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 the end result.
2. Now, 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, “Write the vision down and make it plain so they that read it can run with it.” As I write and study the vision, I compare and examine my leadings by the written word of God.
3. Simplify it. That verse in Habakkuk not only tells me to write the vision down but to also make it plain. I try to put it into a single sentence, if possible—if not one sentence, then two or three at the most. Let the main thing be the main thing. Run it by someone who does not help in your ministry to make sure it is simple enough for them to understand it. Now write in down, keep it before you, write it on every publication. Commit it to memory and talk it up every time you are before people.
4. Create a plan to bring your vision to pass. Planning must always go before action. You’ve started with the end; now go to the beginning. Determine exactly where you are. Now 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 you must 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 reflexive.
6. Communicate the vision and plan every way you possibly can to 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 part time. Speak it, put it in a brochure, make banners and show pictures that explain it. Use video, interviews, and take every opportunity to communicate and explain your vision as well as your plan. This includes meetings! Spend time with the level of leaders directly under you and help them make your vision their own. This is an important step, because they will impart your vision to others and you will not be alone in the vision casting process. This is something you must develop as a life habit and must become a part of your lifestyle.
7. Teach it all to your workers. What do I teach? Teach and explain your philosophy of ministry. Teach on your mission and overall goal. Teach your structure. If your workers don’t understand how authority works, they won’t be people under authority. I also teach vision-specifics: things like what I want each child to become after they complete each ministry within our children’s department. I teach my plan in steps so it can be easily followed and understood.