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How to Discern God’s Vision For Your Church


One of the questions I’m asked most often is “How do I get God’s vision or dream for our church?” Frankly, a lot of pastors’ visions that I’ve heard have more to do with ego than God’s will.

I’d recommend you answer these questions:

  1. What has God called the church to be? What is our purpose? Why did God create His church in the first place?
    This is the issue of identity and purpose. Why do we exist? At Saddleback, the answer is that we are here to fulfill the five eternal purposes of the church. These five purposes are given in the Great Commandment and Great Commission. Jesus illustrated them in his prayer for his disciples as he summed up his ministry on earth (John 17). Paul explains these five purposes in Ephesians, chapter four and the church at Jerusalem modeled these five purposes in Acts, chapter two. The church was created to worship, fellowship, evangelize, minister and disciple people. The world is constantly changing but God’s eternal purposes never change. They are the foundation of any God-given vision.
  2. What is God doing in the world?
    Where is He moving? Where is the wave of his Spirit? What does God seem to be blessing right now? Discover which way God’s sovereign winds of blessing are blowing and set your sail in that direction. Instead of praying “God bless what I’m doing” pray “God help me to do what you are blessing!”
  3. Where is the church right now?
    Evaluate your church and its relative strength regarding each of the five purposes.
  4. What needs to be done first?
    The answer to this will vary depending on your particular context. Consider the background and existing leadership of the church. Leadership is knowing where you’re going and being able to persuade people to come along with you. Obviously, if you don’t know where you’re going, nobody’s going to follow you. Take baby steps.
  5. Why we are going to do this? What is our motivation?
    This is extremely important. The why always determines the how and how long. Leading a church is difficult and if you don’t have your motivation crystal clear, you will give up when it gets tough. At Saddleback, we spend a lot of time in our membership class (Class 101) clearly explaining why we do everything we do at our church. This makes for more committed members.
  6. What will it feel like to be going there?
    Explain the payoff and reward. Clearly show the eternal, personal, and emotional benefits. People want to be in on projects that are challenging, meaningful, and fun. People are looking for significance. When you show them how they can make a difference with their lives you’ll have no trouble attracting people to be involved.
  7. What can they do?
    In a symphony, everybody plays his or her part. It may be different notes but when it’s all blended together, it’s beautiful. Effective leaders learn how to help people see how their individual contribution fits into the whole. Affirm people, believe in them, put faith and trust in them.
  8. How specifically are we going to do it?
    These are the specific steps we will take together. One of the most important values to communicate is the importance of cooperation. In the body of Christ we are more effective working together that any of us would be as individuals.

If you’d like to know more about vision and being a purpose driven church, join me at PDC 16!

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