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Communicating Vision: Part One

by Jerry Harris, Reach Missouri Network President

Where there is no vision, the people perish.  (Proverbs 29:18)

For the last several months, I have been privileged to be in churches of all sizes, being able to work with pastors and church planters from all across the Southern Missouri District. During my travels, the following questions consistently arose: What is the difference between vision and mission?  How do I communicate vision? And, how often should I talk about vision? (Do you see a trend?) All in all, people kept asking about this reoccurring theme—VISION. Vision is critical for a leader because, without vision, leadership fails, and “everything rises and falls on leadership,” according to Dr. John Maxwell. This principle is true in every aspect of leadership, and it’s even truer in ministry.

Furthermore, if you want to know the temperature of your church, put the thermometer in your own mouth (Maxwell, paraphrased). Truly, you can never take people further than you are yourself, spiritually or in any other way, and this hinges on your own personal leadership. Even more, you as a leader don’t have to be charismatic (in the emotional sense) to be a great leader.  In fact (and unfortunately), some of the greatest charismatic leaders of this century were also the worst—Stalin, Mao, Hitler.  They were all very charismatic people, yet they failed at being good leaders (in the moral sense). Therefore, personality has nothing to do with dynamic leadership.  It’s not the charisma of the leader that matters; it’s the vision of the leader that matters.
Moreover, the number one responsibility of leadership is to continually clarify and communicate the vision of the organization.  In your particular area, your number one responsibility of leadership in that area is to continually clarify and communicate the vision of that particular ministry, answering the question “Why are we here?” As a pastor, my job is to continually keep my church on track with the original purposes of the Church, the original New Testament purposes.  This gets more difficult, the larger the church becomes.  Also, when there are only non-Christians (“unchurched” people) coming, establishing shared vision can be fairly easy because “unchurched” people usually don’t have any preconceived ideas of how a church should run.  When lots of “churched” people come, establishing shared vision can be a labored process because “churched” people tend to have an idea of how they think a church should run because their “old church did things a certain way, and that’s how every church should run.”  They bring cultural baggage with them, and that baggage is just another hurdle for the leader to overcome.  However, no matter the difficulties, I as the leader, must figure out a way to communicate shared vision to both groups—churched and unchurched.
Truly, my number one responsibility is to continually clarify and communicate the vision of my church, answering questions such as these—What are we doing?  Why are we here?  Why do we ask people to go through New Members’ Class 101? Why the 201 class? 301 class? 401? If you don’t clarify the vision as the leader, who’s going to? We as leaders must lead; so let’s lead with clear communicable vision. I can’t wait to talk more with you about this in our next blog post. Let’s continue this conversation. Message and email your thoughts. Until next time!  God bless!
Jerry & Lisa Harris

Jerry & Lisa Harris

President

Jerry Harris is passionate about people and building churches to reach their communities. Before joining the Southern Missouri District as Church Planting Director, Jerry and his wife, Lisa, served as lead pastors at St. Charles First Assembly of God, guiding the church to grow and expand to reach St. Charles and Warren County, Saint Louis City and St. Louis County. They have been married since 1970 and have three married children with nine grandchildren. Jerry left a professional career with the railroad industry in 1982 to become a full time pastor. His formal education is in Business Management and he also holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Christian Education from Global University. In addition to pastoring, the Harris’s have served as nationally-appointed U.S. Missionaries for the Assemblies of God to the inner city of St. Louis. Jerry is the president and founder of Inner City Ministries of St. Louis that planted and developed churches in St. Louis City and County and also in Washington Park, Illinois, and of Reach Missouri Network, a newly formed 501(c)(3) corporation that has enlarged and broadened the vision of ICM.

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