One of the more challenging aspects of church planting can be crafting vision and mission. While that is normal and labor worthy, we often add layers of challenge that aren’t necessary. In fact, there can be so many unnecessarily added layers that it’s often most helpful to simply explain the foundational layer to forming vision and mission. I find that most of the struggle isn’t in forming the vision and mission, it’s in how we think about forming the vision and mission.
Vision and mission should be considered and labored through within these categories:
The church is God’s authority on Earth.
The local church is that authority within geography.
Vision is where you’re going with that geographic authority.
Mission is how you’re getting there over time, most visibly in 5-year chunks.
In short, vision is where you’re going, mission is how you’re getting there, but you’re likely to err in vision and mission, if you don’t understand Church and it’s authority to begin with.
How do you communicate that?
In everything you do.
With your church’s name.
With an incredibly short and well-chosen vision synthesizing sentence. That allows for each word to expand on the vision.
And each component of the expanded vision can further be elaborated as to how the vision will be accomplished via the mission.
This is who we are, this is what we hope, and this is how we’re arriving at that hope.
The rails of authority.
The people of God were always designed to display the glory of God throughout the globe of God. Through a series of failures, Christ ensures that reality in his death, resurrection and enthronement as King eternal, so the mission of God’s people has never changed. He gives his promised spirit to the world to accomplish the original garden mission, and then he will return. When you plant a church you are thrusting a geographic stake in the ground and proclaiming those promises of Christ to be real and visible.
When Paul speaks of and addresses the church, most of the time it’s specific to a local church within geography that has a particular make-up. He does address the church universal as well, so what becomes apparent is that the church is running on two rails. The church universal with all geographic specifics and the local church within geography that displays a more narrow make-up. Your church plant is running on these rails, and it should be obvious in your vision and mission.
My vision sounds too, well, general. There’s a reason for that. It’s because in it’s most basic form, every single church on Earth should have the same vision and mission. Your generality is good and normal. You get the vision and mission of THE church, you’re just working through how that is presenting itself geographically. You’re vision and mission run on two rails, the vision and mission of THE church and of the LOCAL church. Labor well here.
My vision is too dense and complicated. So is an airplane manual, thank God. Your vision and mission are necessarily as deep as the audience it’s speaking to, and you need to have a vision and mission that can speak to all audiences, from the simple to the complex. Airplane mechanics know more about the airplane than the pilot. The Pilot knows more about the plane than the passengers. There is a difference between what’s necessary and what’s important in communicating vision and mission. Be ready to communicate in-depth or in simplicity.
I want to be multi-_________. Great, plant within geography where that is most present. Geography is real. People live within Geography for a reason, for their reasons. You aren’t going to change either one of those. The church was never designed for that. Have a vision and mission that says “Yes” to multi-______, while simultaneously saying “Please”. We say “Yes” in our vision running well on the two rails of authority. We say “Please” in that we make it our intent to know our geography and reflect that reality in our churches.
BY JOSHUA WHETSTINE – NORTH AMERICAN MISSION BOARD CITY MISSIONARY FOR MINNEAPOLIS/ST. PAUL.