Live blog 7: Missional Church Planting conference

Communications Staff — May 12, 2009

Speaker: Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research.

Session title: The importance of vision

Vision is always important. But in church planting, the need to cast vision is a level higher than in other situations. Most people can’t see things in their head so you have to help them see things in their head.

1. Vision begins with God

God need to gives you the vision or it becomes a man-centered vision.

Church planting is hot right now, it is cool right now. But you need to have a vision from God to do church planting. By vision, Stetzer means a strong conviction about where and how you should plant a church. Stetzer thinks you need to know that God wants you to plant a church.

Definition of vision: A vision is a clear and challenging picture of the future as its leadership believes it can and should be.

Vision implies seeing. I have to see and I have to communicate to others so that they will see. Believers and unbelievers have to know where you are going.

Church planting generally begins with a solitary vision from a church planter that then becomes a shared vision as a congregation grows under the church planter.

2. Vision is informed by data and realism

‘This is the difference between a vision from God and a pipe dream. If you have a pipe dream, you end up discouraging the people, rather than rallying the people. If you say, ‘we will have a thousand people in a year’ and you don’t, then you discourage people.’

3. Vision is received in different ways by different people

Some people have great ideas. Other people read about great ideas, study great ideas and implement great ideas as they think they should.

Stetzer said he is not an entrepreneur. ‘I am a believer in learning from as many as people as I can as part of the vision process.’

The how of church planting is determined in many ways by the who, where and when of culture.

4. Vision tells/reminds people where you intend to go

The reality is that people forget the vision easily and quickly. So you need to consistently remind them of what the vision is.

In a church plant, Stetzer said he monthly reminded people of the vision. You need to have a vision that you stick to and you need to have a vision that you are open to modifying and adjusting as you think you need to.

5. Vision requires a mental image

You need to be able to describe the vision. And it needs to touch people’s hearts. They need to get it.

6. Vision must be focused

Vision diffused is a dull light. In a church plant, you need to focus a on a few things.

Stetzer focuses on a corporate worship setting, having a gathering where the Bible is preached, the Gospel is proclaimed and people praise God. And you have pre-school. And then you go from there. You may be able to add things as you go along, but if you do, you need to do so slowly.

More programs are not what you need. What you need is more people on mission.

7. Vision requires a credible vision caster

The question here is, ‘Do people believe what you say?’ People have to believe that what you are saying can be accomplished. The more success you have the more people believe you are credible.

8. Vision must be shared

The peak-to-peak principle: At one peak you announce the plans for the next peak. Stetzer shared about a time when they hoped to have 450 at a service, they had 750 and at that service he announced plans for the church to plant two more churches (details of that story might not exactly right, but the point is).

9. Vision is short-lived

Again, cast the vision roughly once a month. A church planter has the vision in his head all the time. That is not true of the rest of the people in the church.

Keep in mind: you can get the idea of casting, recasting and implementing the vision. But vision is not the goal. The Gospel is the goal. Do not turn vision into the goal. You can’t cast a vision for cooler church. You have to be casting a vision for Gospel transformation. Whatever you cast, make sure Gospel-centeredness characterizes the vision, expressed in a way that fits your culture.

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