Dreams vs. Vision

Most people dream but a dream without faith is simply a fantasy.  There is nothing wrong with dreaming, in fact all vision is drawn from the well of dreams.  We are to regularly dream with God, this is the hope factor (Heb. 11:1), in the process of dreaming with God through prayer and giving God access to the dream that the leader holds in his heart, the Lord “speaks” and begins to impart faith to the parts of the dream that reflect God’s plan for the leader and the local church, this now becomes the faith factor (Heb. 11:1).   This faith makes the vision seem real and attainable, faith gives substance to things that were at one time just a hope or a dream.  Without the element of faith dreams remain the creation of the human mind – a fantasy.  The senior leader is not the creator of vision but rather it’s caretaker, true vision comes from God.  Fantasies never materialize because they inherently lack the faith necessary to bring it to pass.

The most important job of the senior leader is to find God’s vision.

Proverbs 25:2 (NKJV)

2     It is the glory of God to conceal a matter,

But the glory of kings is to search out a matter.

It concealing, the Lord forces us to seek Him, and in seeking Him we find more than a simple plan.  We are infused with the faith, the substance of heaven to bring the vision to pass.  Also, it is faith that will attract others to the vision.  We can’t “act” a faith that will draw people, but the faith that God imparts to us will not only draw people but will also impart into their heart the vision and faith to work, give, and pray as a force for the fulfillment of the vision.

The Threefold Law of Vision

Nehemiah 2:13–18 (NKJV)

13 And I went out by night through the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well and the Refuse Gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were burned with fire. 14 Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King’s Pool, but there was no room for the animal under me to pass. 15 So I went up in the night by the valley, and viewed the wall; then I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned. 16 And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I had done; I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, or the others who did the work.

17 Then I said to them, “You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach.” 18 And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king’s words that he had spoken to me.

So they said, “Let us rise up and build.” Then they set their hands to this good work.

Step One:  The Law of Articulation

Nehemiah cast the vision to the people, he pointed to the need and suggested a bold solution.  The senior leader has to articulate the vision in a manner that the “many” may see it.  Leaders must take time to make sure people “get it” or they won’t follow.  Give the process time, don’t just assume everyone got it because you shared the vision or wrote about the vision.  Where visionaries are often weak is that we assume everyone sees the vision with the same clarity that we see it.  Write the vision in a short and clear manner.  Use as many forms of communication as possible and repeat it as often as possible.

Step Two:  The Law of Unification

The timing is determined by the pace at which the people rally around the vision.  Most senior leaders jump from step one to attempting to bring about the vision virtually by themselves.  This is where the nature of vision works against itself.  Because the leader has embedded in the vision the faith to bring it to pass, we often do not have the patience and alienate the very ones God is calling to come along side of us to bring to pass the vision, any vision that is worthwhile will require others.

Many factors come to play when seeking unification; the leader’s skill in articulating the vision in terms of doable goals or steps; the health of the body to whom the vision is proposed.  The goal at this stage is to rally the people.  If this doesn’t happen, the leader doesn’t need to entertain critical thoughts and feelings towards the people but rather needs to go back to “the mountain” for some more sessions with God.

Step Three:  The Law of Mobilization

Once the people have bought into a vision and make it their own, it is now time to put them into action and go for the BIG ASK (what is needed from the people to bring the vision to pass).

There is no hard and fast rule on how long the three-fold law of vision will take.  The church is an organism and therefore the process is organic and the leader cannot rush the process.

Every organization/church has a culture that is unique.  The question is never whether your church has a culture but rather what is the culture?  As the leader if I cannot answer that question that means the culture of my church has been created by default rather than intentionally.  When culture is created by default the most dysfunctional parts of the organization create it.  This is true in every organization and in particularly the church.

The dictionary defines Culture as shared beliefs and values of a group, people with shared beliefs and practices shared attitudes, a particular set of attitudes that characterizes a group of people.  This is not to be confused with people simply agreeing on the same doctrine etc. but rather unity around purpose and the things that we hold dear and a unity on the main purpose of the church and how you are called to fulfill that.

Culture creating is probably one of the most important tasks of the leader.  Leaders often try to cast vision within a culture that cannot sustain that vision.  The health of the church/organization is determined by the culture.

Culture has to be developed intentionally through establishing truths and core values.  Culture establishes boundaries for people; culture determines whom you draw and who stays with you.  As leaders what we tolerate will dominate, what we tolerate creates the culture and therefore I will get more of what I allowed.

If you as the leader do not like the culture of your church then begin to change it.  Pastor, ask yourself the question, “If I was not the pastor would I still attend this church?”  Unfortunately for many the answer is no.  If that’s the case ask yourself the question why?  This begins to give you the things that often point to things in the culture of your church that need to be changed.  At this point I can hear the argument from well meaning pastors who say, “but it’s not about what I like but the people I am shepherding.”  Wrong!  You cannot effectively lead something you don’t like and connect with.  God always works though leaders that He calls to lead HIS church.  If God has called you to lead your church then He has called you because of YOUR unique mix of gifts, anointing, personality, and experiences.

It may seem overwhelming but start with simple steps.  Start with the easiest things to change first and let that create the moment for further change.  Your present culture wasn’t created overnight neither will it change overnight….but start now and the momentum to create a culture that will advance the kingdom will be established in your church.