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What’s More Important than Vision?

It’s common when thinking and talking about our strategies for ministry that we focus on our vision.

We focus on the preferred future we are aiming at as the new goal for our ministries. We create mission statements, vision statements and strategic plans to lay out the preferred idea for how our student ministry or congregation should progress over the next several years.

While a clear, compelling vision is certainly important, we would do much better to focus first on the people on our team and let the vision follow.

We should focus first on the who … then on the what.

Get the Right People on the Bus

A vision matters, but trying to make that vision a reality with a poor team is going to handicap any vision you might have had in the first place.

Great ideas are important, but a great idea combined with a mediocre team isn’t going to lead to a great, well-executed idea; it’s going to lead to an average idea.

Ideas and vision may be important, but there is significantly more importance on the people on your team.

If you have a quality team, you can get them to align around a variety of ideas and execute. If you have a quality student ministry volunteer staff, you can cast vision and encourage them to align themselves around whatever your vision might be. But if you have a poor student ministry team, it doesn’t matter how compelling your vision is, if you don’t have the people to live it out.

Ed Catmull from Pixar said it this way:

“[Toy Story 2] taught us an important lesson about the primacy of people over ideas: If you give a good idea to a mediocre team, they will screw it up; if you give a mediocre idea to a great team, they will either fix it or throw it away and come up with something that works.”

Do you spend more time focusing on where you want your ministry to go in the next five years or how to get the right people on board in your ministry and find the right spot for them on your team?

There is a place for focusing and dreaming about the future, but gather a team of quality people first and allow them to help shape and cast the vision for your ministry second.

Jim Collins added:

“Most people assume great bus drivers (read: business leaders) immediately start the journey by announcing to the people on the bus where they’re going—by setting a new direction or by articulating a fresh corporate vision.

In fact, leaders of companies that go from good to great start not with ‘where’ but with ‘who.’ They start by getting the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus and the right people in the right seats. And they stick with that discipline—first the people, then the direction—no matter how dire the circumstances.”

Why do you think it’s so hard to start with the “who” before the “where”?  

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RJ Grunewald is a Vicar, Minister, and Preacher at Faith Lutheran Church in Troy, Michigan. He is currently attending seminary through Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. His writing, preaching, and teaching all flow out of a passion that theology would not be something reserved for academics and dead guys, but instead be something that flows into everyday life.