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Creating a Ministry With Vision

By Thom Schultz

A friend stopped by and mentioned he had left his church. I learned he wasn’t alone.

It seems a large chunk of the congregation has fled, along with half the staff. I asked my friend for his take on what’s happening. His story resembles many others I’ve heard over the years.

“The pastor is very self-confident,” my friend explained. “He likes to remind everyone that he is the visionary. So when members or staff have a concern, he just brushes them off. For him, it’s ‘my way or the highway.’ ”

If that’s an accurate description, is this a picture of visionary leadership–or something else?

Ministries need vision and leaders with vision. But sometimes church leaders use self-proclaimed “vision” as an excuse to bulldoze over those with whom they disagree.

So what’s the difference between a leader exercising true vision and one who seems to be on a solo power trip?

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Attributes of a leader with vision:

  1. True vision comes from God. With that, it’s safe to assume God is more interested in plans that further his kingdom rather than somebody’s fiefdom.
  2. Vision is not defined as just another way of “getting my way.”
  3. For a leader, confidence can be a benefit. Overconfidence, however, is arrogance–and dangerous, the stuff of tyrants.
  4. Visionary leaders stay closely connected to their people. Unlike insulated Lone Rangers, they engage in abundant and frequent two-way communication with members and staff.
  5. True leaders invite and welcome critique. They’re eager to adjust their vision when they learn valid and corrective insights from others. Believe it or not, God works through more than just one.

A high-profile pastor recently wrote an article about people who leave a church. He listed reasons he thinks people leave and suggested several ways to respond. Conspicuously absent, however, was any leadership responsibility for the people’s exodus.

That’s not healthy. That’s not visionary leadership. That’s just a prescription for blinders.

One thought on “Creating a Ministry With Vision

  1. This is so what happened to me!! The pastor told me “I AM THE PASTOR” like he was God and he screamed at me. He scared me and I was scared to be alone with him. So they let me go after ten years of employment. Most of the members have left and givings have dropped and they are trying to use the van fund and a cd to pay the bills. I feel so bad for the church there, meaning God’s people. The ones left can’t see what he really is like for some reason and I just wonder how he pulls the wool over their eyes. It is really a sad situation.

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