Is Vision Really All That Important?

I want to state right away – I think vision is helpful.  I am just not so sure it’s the solution or remedy for all leadership woes that it is often presented to be.  One of the advantages of having carried the torch for a few decades is you see so many great concepts come and go.  Emphases come along that fail or gloss over real issues. And others are genuinely loaded with power.  I feel this way about vision talk.

I still think young enough to be a forever learner.  Leadership as boomers has known it has changed for the two younger generations.  And I think the younger leaders often have a more accurate hold on what works and more importantly what’s right.  Vision talk is often difficult for younger leaders to stomach.  And for many of these leaders, it feels immoral.

But that isn’t why I am musing with you about vision.  I have my own questions and observations.  I have to be direct and say there are several reasons I am reluctant to cheer on the virtues of a great vision as a means to grow your church.

My first quandary came as a coach for churches. 

I had to admit that many many of the churches I worked with were very healthy, yet had no vision or clear plans of any kind. I am thinking of one church of 8,000 people.  In this church, 100’s were receiving Christ, and the parking lots couldn’t hold more cars.  I concluded if vision is so important, why is this group outperforming every single church I know with a big-time vision?

The second cause of my reassessing the importance of vision talk was – I haven’t seen that many well thought out visions.  I have a desk drawer full of great slogans.  Statements like “A Church for the Lonely’ or some such thing.  Or, “Love God, Love Others, Change the World,” which is a popular one since it came out in ‘Simple Church.”

So my perplexity is that few churches can write a good one yet we all seem to be going on down the road with progress in some fashion or another.

I wonder if a lot of great ideas don’t come from speakers and leaders who need something to teach.  I just can’t picture the early apostles handing out cards with slogan statements and vision sheets for their churches.  I can see Jack Welch wielding a great vision.

I think “aims” are what most people think vision statements are. 

I am far more interested in what are your aims and goals than some vision.  What do we want to accomplish this year is far more helpful to me than a vision statement.  What does Jesus need to be done through you this year?