Gain a Clearer Understanding of God’s Desires
Inherent in a New Year is reflection upon where one has been and a renewed sense of purpose (or a desire for a new purpose) in one’s life. This reflection should not stop at the personal level (resolving to eat healthier and stay in more regular contact with loved ones) but must extend to our ministries. As you ponder the state of your ministry and determine where it could head this coming year(s), we would highly encourage you to take advantage of this special series and walk through the five steps of developing vision for your ministry. Even if you already have a stated vision, it is helpful to retrace the steps of that process to give yourself an re-invigorated sense of purpose, direction, and passion for your ministry area in the coming year.
Gain a Clearer Understanding of God’s Desires
Today’s first step toward developing/refreshing your ministry vision is one that often goes overlooked because it is so assumed. Returning to the Author of Creation and the greatest redemption plan in history could revolutionize your personal approach to ministry and re-orient a floundering outreach. A fuller understanding of God’s purposes for the universal church will help you understand His purposes and desires for your church. Here are five ways to get a better understanding:
1. Pray individually and corporately. Ask God to give direction and understanding as you work through the process of developing a vision for your church. Ask Him to reveal to you what He desires your church to do. Practice fasting or other spiritual disciplines as part of this process.
2. Study the scriptures. Study passages of Scripture that reveal God’s purpose for the church. Study the key passages in the New Testament on the Church. Be sure to include the following:
2 Corinthians 5.18-21
1 Timothy 2.4
3. Synthesize the teaching of these passages and write a mission statement for your church. Remember, a mission statement differs from a vision statement.
Mission = the broad purpose for which any church exists (timeless and biblical; fits all churches)
Vision = a specific, detailed statement of the unique way that the mission will be accomplished by your church (local and situational, fits your church uniquely)
It should be timeless and biblical (i.e. actually arising out of the above texts and not just what you might think the text says somewhere…). This is a statement of what God wants churches to do. Your vision statement which you write later in the process will describe the unique way your church or ministry will fulfill this general mission statement. Other churches will have different vision statements as God leads them to accomplish His mission in situations different from yours. Each is valid as long as it is within the scriptural bounds of Christ’s mission for the church.
4. Reflect. Spend some time quietly reflecting on what you have learned about God’s plan for the church. Ask God to direct your thoughts and sharpen your understanding. Throughout the process of developing the vision, ask yourself the question: “What is the most effective thing our church can do to accomplish this mission in area of ministry?”
5. Seek Wise Counsel. Talk with mature believers in other churches about the mission and vision of their church. Seek out wise members of your own congregation and ask for their counsel about the vision of your church.
This is just the beginning! When considering the direction of our ministries, the most obvious (yet overlooked) beginning is in God’s desired direction for His people. However our individual and corporate abilities along with the actual needs in our communities will help refine that general direction. Be sure to check out steps 2-5 to refresh your ministry vision in this new year.
This is based on a portion of Andrew Seidel’s work Charting A Bold Course: Training Leaders for 21st Century Ministry. For more information on this title and for many other leadership resources, visit our Resource Center today!
About the Contributors
Dr. Andrew B. Seidel served as executive director of the Hendricks Center at Dallas Seminary for fifteen years, which provides leadership training and development for seminary students as well as ministry and business leaders. A graduate of West Point and a colonel in the U.S. Army, Dr. Seidel was senior pastor at Grace Bible Church in College Station, Texas, for fourteen years. He left the pastorate to provide leadership training for pastors on the mission field in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. Today he continues to work in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia with Entrust (formerly BEE International). The author of Charting a Bold Course; Training Leaders for 21st Century Ministry, Dr. Seidel and his wife Gail Norris Seidel have been married for more than fifty years and have two married children and six grandchildren.