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Book Review: The Power of Vision

Book Review: The Power of Vision

by Mike Prah on June 14, 2020

Introduction

George Barna, in his book, The Power of Vision, implores church leaders to explore the power of God’s vision for ministry. He notes that, although pastors and congregants are more aware of the importance of vision for ministry, there is a desperate near for clarity in understanding and pursuing God’s purpose for our individual churches. Simply put, inscribing a two-line mission statement in the church bulletin each week will not cut it.[1] He notes, "To minister authentically and authoritatively, you must first clarify your vision, then embrace it and make it the focus of your life's work and the heartbeat of your church."

This article will reflect the elements of mission-driven, visionary leadership, the essential and functional difference between mission and vision, as well as the process of discovering and communicating vision in a church or organization as detailed in Barna's book and complemented by Dr. Faulls’ Liberty University presentation.

Mission-Driven, Visionary Leadership

Barna describes a vision for ministry as “a clear mental image of a preferable future imparted by God to His chosen servants, based upon (1) an accurate understanding of God, (2) self, and (3) circumstances.”[2] Vision is a clear viewpoint of how things should look like in the days ahead, even though they do not exist today. The leader must internalize and personalize this picture of the future and be able to convince others in the church for the vision to materialize. Vision stretches our abilities, entails a great depth of understanding, and detailed knowledge of facts and potential.

In the definition of vision, God comes first among the sources of insight and realities. He is first and foremost in the vision process. Barna notes that we must strive to fully capture an understanding of His will for our ministry based upon His perspective. Secondly, we must know our abilities, gifts, limitations, values, and desires so as integrate our capabilities and limitations within God’s plan to accomplish what needs to be done through His chosen people. Finally, we must understand our circumstances because God’s vision for our ministry is sensitive to the environments He has called us to influence. Therefore, we must have a firm grasp on current and potential needs, conditions, competition, opportunities, barriers, and potential to absorb His vision for our ministry.[3]

As Christ-followers, we must believe that we can lead and have a strong faith that God can use us. [4] Much of leadership is believing the impossible can be accomplished whenever God’s people, by God’s power, pursue God’s vision. Faith inspires fellowship; this means that if others see that you believe in the vision that God has given you, then they will want to follow you. However, they are not following the person; they are following the vision. [5] Faulls states that any leader’s slogan should be “yes, we can.” This is not even a slogan; it should be a life motto. If it is God’s mission and God’s vision, then it’s possible even when there are challenges. Anything can be done with God’s power (Phil. 4:13).[6]

The Functional Difference Between Mission and Vision

Barna states that a mission statement is a definition of the critical ministry objectives of the church, whereas a vision statement is a clarification of the specific direction and activities the church will pursue toward making a real ministry impact.[7]

A mission statement is a broad, general statement about who you wish to reach and what the church hopes to accomplish. It is basically a definition of ministry, and not geared to uniqueness or distinctive or direction. It is designed to reflect hearts turned to God in service and obedience in which the church is a vehicle used to unite people to do His will. A mission can be described in a  sentence or two; often, a slogan; nonetheless, it is essentially a “philosophic statement that undergirds the heart of your ministry” and captures its essence.[8] Vision, on the other hand, is “specific, detailed, customized, distinctive, and unique to a given church. It allows a leader to say no to opportunities, provides direction, empowers people for service, and facilitates productivity.”[9]

Knowing the content of the mission statement generally enables a person to feel confident that the church is Christian and is ministry minded. The vision statement puts feet on the mission, detailing how the church will influence the world in which it will minister. Thus, while the mission statement is philosophic, the vision statement is strategic.

Discovering and Communicating Vision in a Church or Organization

Barna suggests the following process in creating and communicating the vision. First, the leader must make it his or her personal goal to understand and clarify the vision in all its details, to embed in their mind and heart that it becomes part of who they are, and to train themselves to use it as a  filter for responding to all situations they encounter, to cause others to embrace it too and run with it.[10] Next is, the vision must be documented in detail. This allows for you to return to the statement periodically to inspect to make sure you are on course, to determine if dimensions or nuances of the vision have been side-stepped, to remind yourself of the power and depth of the vision, and to become reinvigorated to pursue it vigorously.[11]

Finally, Barna advocates developing a public document that outlines the key elements of the vision for the church’s ministry for your people. This document differs from the document you have prepared for yourself. He elaborates that the difference is akin to the script received by an actor and also the film director. The actor’s script contains his or her vital information: the lines, key movements, specific places to be. The director’s script, however, includes more details such as, camera angles, lighting notations, and staging reminders.[12] Barna counsels that the leader must make sure the vision is articulated, and that the people capture the totality of the vision. They must understand that “the vision is meant to be lived at all times in every circumstances they find themselves, and to take it to the streets.”[13]

In sum, Leaders must follow the vision given to them by God enthusiastically. An acrostic for D.A.R.E is:

D – we must be determined to pursue God’s vision.

A – We have to avoid the “I can’t do it” trap and simply believe.

R – Replace your limiting beliefs with faith in God’s ability.

E – Endure through the struggles and never give up.[14]

 Bibliography

Barna, George. The Power of Vision. Baker Publishing Group, 2014. Accessed January 19, 2020. https://app.wordsearchbible.com.

 Faulls, Greg. You Can Lead. Liberty University Video Lecture, LEAD 620.

[1] George Barna, The Power of Vision (Grand Rapids: Baker Publishing Group, 2014), Chapter 1. Retrieved from https://app.wordsearchbible.com.

 [2] Ibid. Chapter 3.

[3] Ibid.

 [4] Greg Faulls, You Can Lead, Liberty University Video Lecture, LEAD 620.

 [5] Barna, The Power of Vision. Chapter 5.

 [6] Faulls, You Can Lead, Lecture.

 [7] Barna, The Power of Vision, Chapter 3.

 [8] Ibid.

 [9] Ibid.

[10] Barna, The Power of Vision, Chapter 12.

 [11] Ibid.

 [12] Ibid.

 [13] Ibid.

 [14] Faulls, You Can Lead, Lecture.

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