Scripture teaches us that when people have vision, they are inspired to follow what is communicated and put back in order that which is out of order. There is much in our world that is out of order; a clear vision compels people to engage in the work at hand to make the community a better place. Without vision, a church becomes ineffective, stops reaching out to the community around it, and fails to follow the Lord. When people believe in the vision, they commit to the mission and become passionate about the work of the ministry.
When we feel a financial pinch as a community, we can allow fear to dwarf our mission as a church rather than trust God to show us exactly how he plans for us to accomplish the mission he has given us, despite the dollars in our weekly offerings.
In Funding Ministry with Five Loaves and Two Fishes, I provide some examples of church communities who had faith in God’s specific mission for them, set to work on their call, and accomplished amazing outreach as a result.
Here are some ways your church can create and use missional buy-in regardless of the financial realities you may be facing:
Seek and answer the call God has for your community. God has specific plans for your congregation. Before beginning work on a large “project” or need that you see in the world, be sure to discern and confirm that God is calling your church to meet that need. Pastor Rick Warren has a great post on the steps involved in discerning God’s mission for your church: http://pastors.com/3-parts-of-vision/.
Share a compelling God-vision with the congregation. Clearly communicate the vision God has given you as a pastor, a board of directors, or as a member of your faith community. When your community hears the call that you hear, and sees the vision God has given you, the entire community will be emboldened and impassioned to serve through Christ in amazing and expansive ways. Remember that if there isn’t some fear or sense of impossibility mixed in with the eagerness a vision brings, this may not be a true call from God. He will ask us to work together as the body of Christ, accomplishing through Him what we cannot accomplish alone.
Frequently communicate the progress of the vision. We all want to know whether our efforts are having an effect. Ongoing discussion about the ministry will encourage ongoing involvement. Seek to promote as much interaction, inclusion, and active participation in the congregation’s ministry as possible.
Communicate setbacks for the vision. Again, buy-in demands inclusion and transparency. In times of setbacks, surpassed deadlines, or even complete failures, faith leaders can gain respect and credibility, as well as prayer and support, by sharing the “lows” of a ministry as well as the “highs.”
Ask for support. Speak openly with your community about the need for support. Whether the support needed is in the form of time, money, or skills, be willing to ask your congregation for what is needed.
Treat your congregation with trust and respect: Remember that, even if God has given you a vision, He has also placed you within a community. You need everyone in your community, whether they contribute $1 to a special offering for the ministry, encouraging words to others within the community, or significant professional consulting. While you may be your community’s leader, the vision and mission is not about you. Trust and respect the input others give and the roles others play.
Regularly reassess God’s call for your community. Be open and aware of the changing vision of a congregation. One facet we tend to tie to “success” in a project is duration. The longer we are committed to a given ministry, a given group of people, a given goal, the more credit we tend to give the ministry as a whole. Conversely, changing direction is often seen as “quitting” or failing to persevere. We have to remember, though, that these judgments are often man-made. God wants us to be ready for “new things.” We may, in fact, have already achieved a specific mission God had for us within a given ministry without even realizing it. God may be calling your congregation in a new direction, and as the leader of your church, be open to this and work to cultivate this same attitude within your congregation. If passion among church members for a specific mission has steadily flagged, this may be a good time to ask God to either renew your church’s call for the mission in progress or give your community a new vision and new mission