Thanks for visiting our website! The photo this month was taken during a seminar in Santiago de Chile, November 2016. [Click picture to enlarge.]
Ministry has always been a team effort--Jan and I have shared the work of ministry and missions for 47+ years! In addition to the customary "Brother Bob," I am also known as dad and papa. My favorite breakfast is huevos fritos, frijoles, and tortillas, with a good hot sauce and a cup of quality coffee! My greatest joy in life is being part of the kingdom; my #1 priority is to advance "kingdom things" and help develop "kingdom people." I seek to serve and share the good news about Jesus everywhere I go. One of the greatest blessings of my life is to be loved by so many people around the world!
The 2017 Calendar of ministry and mission activities is now available. I hope you can attend an event when I am in your area. Contact me for details or to inquire about a possible visit.
Three essential aspects of your vision for the future are vision, mission, and planning. What is the difference between these? Vision is the "what"--what will a church or organization look like when it is doing what it was meant to do? Mission is the "why"--mission reflects the purpose for existing. Planning is the "how" and includes goal-setting.
This article outlines four steps. The vision, mission, and plans must be identified, they must be important, they must be integrated so they become parts of a single effort, and they must be implemented. Bringing the vision to reality also requires daring, commitment, and investment. These are described under implementation.
Identifying the Vision, the Mission, and the Plans
Vision--This may be the greatest need of the church today. What does a biblical church look like? In many churches, too little attention is given to long range goals, why things are done, what is happening, and what is going to happen. This reflects a lack of vision. Business as usual takes the day--doing what we have always done while hoping for different or improved results. Present circumstances and commitments consume available resources.
God has a vision for the church--read the book of Ephesians. God has a plan for saving the world--read the New Testament. God's plan involves healthy functioning churches and evangelism that aggressively shares the gospel; disciples making disciples; multiplication, not addition.
Mission--Many churches do not know why they exist. The overarching mission of the church is salvation--either saving people or keeping them saved. The church may employ lots of strategies, but the primary question must always be, "How is this moving us toward our 'why'?" The church that does understand that it exists for a God-given mission will be unfocused. The principal "why" in God's purpose for the church is evangelism! The contemporary church is satisfied with too little. In every ministry and every mission effort, we must demand accountability for sharing the message of Jesus.
Planning--Some Christians and church leaders speak against planning, but the Bible encourages planning. For example, "May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed" (Ps. 20:4). To fail to plan is slothful; planning requires diligence. How will we get anything done if we do not know how we are going to do it? Contexts may change, new opportunities may open, and strategies may shift in a specific ministry or mission context, but to fail to plan is to plan to fail. What is God's vision for the church? What is God's mission for the church? We must learn to distinguish vision, mission, and planning (strategy). The "what" and "why" must be focused and pursued--the specifics of the "how" are flexible.
Goal setting is a crucial part of planning. Here are some things that will help you effectively set goals: (1) write each goal down, (2) set a date, (3) be specific about details, (4) review and pray about the goals.
Importance of Vision, Mission, and Planning
Every local church, every mission work, every person needs a vision. This is what this church or ministry will look like when it is fully functioning and doing what God wants (the "what"). The vision must be shared with others so that it becomes a part of the DNA of the work. Although the vision must be shared constantly, this is not the key to success.
Making a vision a reality requires developing a plan that focuses on the mission or purpose (the why). Mission is the key--when every person involved in the church or work understands the "why." This will ultimately determine success or lack of it. Are we reaching the why? Why does the "why" matter?
Making a vision (the what) a reality, and fulfilling the mission (why) of existence, requires planning with regard to strategies (the how).
Integrating Vision, Mission and Planning
Vision, Mission, and Planning must be connected so that they become aspects of the same goal and plans.
The vision--must be biblical, thoughtfully developed, long term, strong, clear, communicated, compelling, pursued with diligence.
The mission--is related to the vision, it must also be biblical; it must be kept at the forefront. The connections between the vision and the mission must be clear.
Planning is the hardest part. It is hard because many activities do not move us toward the what and the why. Developing a strong vision for the future requires looking beyond the week-to-week activities and opportunities. In most ministries and missions, it takes a lot of energy just to keep things going. The tyranny of the urgent will consume every available resource and keep us from doing the things that are most important to the what and the why.
Implementing Vision, Mission, and Planning--Making the Vision a Reality
When the vision, mission, and planning are clearly identified, are seen as important, and are integrated into a single plan, you are ready to implement the plan. Three things are necessary.
Commitment--It is easy to list what should be done. Action is more difficult because action requires commitment. Commitment shows that you are serious. How committed are you to the vision, mission, and plans? Daring--Reaching forward to a vision requires more than commitment. Two things show you are serious--commitment and daring. Daring is your willingness to leave your comfort zones. Daring is being willing to stretch and do new things. Investment--Personally decide to make the investment necessary in your life, church, and ministry. Investing includes time, effort, and money. If you are not willing to invest and to seek transformative learning, everything will remain the same.
Note: An expanded version of this article can be accessed and downloaded at: How to Make Your Vision a Reality in 2017