By Lynn Hardaway
A leader should never underes1mate the power of a clearly communicated vision;
people join churches, contribute generously, and a congrega1on moves forward in
the wake of a God-given idea. So much has been wri@en about vision, yet not much
space is given to the single most important skill in determining the vision for a congregation: copious amounts of intercessory prayer. Facetime with the Father, asking for His vision for the church, is the only way to access His resources to seeing it accomplished.
Too often, as leaders seeking a viable vision, we substitute our own fantasy of what we want to happen in the place of God’s vision and get frustrated because He is not supporting our plans. It is always easier, and more satisfying to the ego, to use our imagination than to do the work of seeking God’s revealed will.
The question then becomes, “How can I discover God’s plan for the church?”
- Hear and understand what He is saying to the church. (Revelation 3:22)
No one knows His people, and their needs, more than God. He is aware of every scenario playing out in their lives, every sin that is unconfessed, every situation that is blinding them to a place of disobedience. He has something to say to each church, and it is customized to that congregation. Jesus’ letters to the seven churches in Revelation show His intimate knowledge of the good and bad, the individuals who are leading and those who are hindering, and His counsel based on the immediate condition in the church. The wise pastor takes the time to listen to His counsel and follow it.
He will not give His counsel to those who are in a hurry to get through their prayer time. Jesus’ offer to be an advisor in Revelation 3:20 involves the time and attention of a full meal accompanied by a quiet conversation. The first century dinner lasted about two hours; imagine the honor that is ours to have an invitation to sit and converse with the King of kings, and the Owner of all the churches, for two hours!
- Ask Him what He wants the church to do next.
Henry Blackaby more correctly labels this instruction from the Lord “revelation,” rather than “vision.” It is not gleaned from church growth books; it is given by Christ to the pastor who will stay at the table, like Mary, rather than rushing away to do more ministry (like Martha). He may or may not give you a complete vision for the next years of your church’s life, but He will show you what to do next if you will listen. During my pastorate at Temple Baptist Church in Newport News, it was during one of these alone times with Him He revealed the idea of a “Single Mom’s Oil Change,” which resulted in over 150 ladies (in two separate events) bringing their cars in for service to the church’s small army of men and women who changed the oil, checked the fluids, aired up the tires and washed the windshields of these precious mothers while they waited with their children in an area peopled by our volunteer conversationalists.
He is, after all, the One Who designed the incredible variety we see in nature; He can show you the unique solutions needed to engage your congregation in obeying His command to “preach the gospel to every person.” Paul makes a direct connection between His power and Intelligence as the Creator and His role as the Head of the church. (Colossians 1:16-18)
Go ahead, pastor: consider it a dare. I dare you to hear His voice, invite Him in to your need for His vision, and spend the time conversing with Him until He shows you what you need to know. Do what He says and see His help in remarkable, supernatural ways!
How Transformation Happens