Warning: This post will challenge some of your assumptions about vision in the church.
Across the North American church landscape this year, many pastors will articulate a vision and compel people toward a preferred future that is weak. Its very nature will be lacking in biblically rugged, God-saturated, deeply compelling content. Note that I said the vision will be weak; not bad and not wrong. What do I mean by this comment? The three kinds of weak vision I want to clarify are lacking potency because they are more of a means to an end than we often realize. Therefore, they are missing the end game, the bigger deal, the ultimate move. “Means” is not the meat of vision casting. For example, if General Electric wants to “Bring Good Things to Life,” they don’t show you the blueprint of the dishwasher.
Now, a pastor may quickly assent to the fact that that the three kinds of vision are indeed means to a greater end. But afterward, he will practically and experientially guide his people with a lower aim. I have seen it hundreds of times. So what are the three kinds of weak vision?
- A building is a weak vision. We intuitively get this. We know the building is a “tool” to accomplish the “bigger mission.” Yet, in the daily grind of raising money in our capital campaigns, it’s easy to appeal only to the consumeristic impulse of the congregation. A building is a means to something.
- Going multisite is a weak vision. The move to multisite is the most relevant kind of weak vision today. The number of multisite churches is accelerating, and the average size of a multisite church is decreasing. It is safe to say that multisite is the new normal. And for good reasons. But ask a pastor about the vision driving the multisite, and you might be surprised how little they have to say. Multisite is a means to something.
- More people in worship is a weak vision. The third one is connected to the first two. Indeed, you may think it is the substance of the first two. We are building a building to what end? More people of course! We are going multisite to what end? More people of course. Now don’t get me wrong. I think every church should be reaching more people and multiplying disciples. And more people, more building and more campuses are all important features of the vision. But by themselves, they are weak. More people is a means to something.