Creating A Vision You Can Talk About
Do you have a friend or mentor in your life that seems to always press your buttons? I used to have a mentor during my college years (a formidable time in anyone’s life) who constantly pressed me with questions like “what’s your vision in ministry?”, “what do you dream will happen in your lifetime?”, and other questions that usually led to lengthy and very personal conversations. I’ve become quite fond of the word vision over the last several years, particularly in relationship to how youth ministry grows and develops.
I have a simple point I want to communicate: We need a new vision for casting vision, as well as who castes vision. Let me say from the start, that there are tons of article and books out there on vision casting. Certainly you could pick one up to get a little bit more of the experience, research, and understanding behind vision, but in all of my experience, vision has always been the answer to a simple question: Where are we going?
So there are questions you can ask your youth ministry next Wednesday evening. “Where are we going as a youth ministry?” “What is our hope as a youth community as we seek to grow in our friendship with Jesus?” A good place to start is around this word multiplying. That communicates that you desire your youth ministry to be a place where people come to experience the story of the Gospel played out in their daily lives, as well as that story being passed on to more and more people.
Here’s where I think leaders get tripped up. Leaders really get tripped up in thinking that somehow the vision belongs to them. In reality, my mentor was not completely correct in asking about MY vision for ministry. It’s a good place to start, but it doesn’t end there. The reality is that vision will die if it is not passed on and discussed in the daily lives of the youth ministry. Vision, especially when it comes to growth and multiplying disciples has to be shared in the ordinary conversations of everyone.
Vision doesn’t end with the leader saying where he/she thinks the group is going. It ends with a never-ending conversation about the compelling ways in which God is leading that specific group forward as they seek to share the story of the Gospel into everyone’s daily lives.
So is vision sharing is everyone’s job? Yes. How is it passed? Vision is cast all the time and we don’t even realize it. Vision is always successfully passed on in the context of conversations beyond the group. If vision isn’t able to be shared in conversations, it will stay within the leadership of the group and eventually become stale. Here’s a couple of questions that you can use to help identify if vision (that nagging question – where is the group is headed?) has the potential to be shared in conversations:
- Is your vision sticky? Is your vision memorable and communicated in such a way that people can bring it up in conversation? I love coming up with these sorts of phrases and sentences. One that I use a lot is our vision is to be a “Community that radically grows and connects with each other and Jesus.” What’s your pithy vision phrase?
- Is your youth ministry comfortable using the word “vision” in a conversation? Do you hear them use it? A powerful shift in my own understanding of vision sharing is when I started to be more comfortable using phrases like “Let me tell you about our vision…” or “We have a vision to be….” Start encouraging your youth ministry to become more comfortable using the word!
I always have that heart-wrenching proverb from the book of Proverbs on my mind when it comes to vision: Without vision, the people would perish. In the context of a youth ministry, I would say that a small group unable of passing and sharing vision is likely to eventually die, but the journey is a slow, painful, and stale death. Granted, all small groups are likely to run their course, but the question that we need to ask ourselves is did we do our jobs with cultivating an environment that knows and cares where we’re going? I hope when it comes to sharing the story of the Gospel with as many people as possible, we will all care about those conversations that holds vision out in front of us seeking to embody that vision in concrete ways.
In all things vision related, we must remember that vision is always shared. Since it’s shared, we ought to bear the burden of sharing the vision with those on the inside and outside of our youth ministries embracing the fact that God could use the most simple of conversations to cause a new community of Christ-followers to take up their purpose to meet together on a regularly basis, challenging one another in their friendship with Jesus.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.