Proverbs 29:18 says “Where there is no (prophetic) vision the people perish (or cast off restraint) ... but blessed is he who keeps the law.” … I believe this speaks of revelation knowledge (prophetic vision), and about keeping God’s word.
In my opinion, the vision for a local church should answer the question, “What does God want us to do?” Every church - across the board, all over the world - needs to have a vision to move forward. I believe that vision must include four main components.
Reach lost people
Mark 16:15 says we are to go into all the world and proclaim the gospel. As we think about the vision, does it pertain to reaching lost people for Jesus? I’m talking about reaching people locally, nationally, and internationally. (Acts 1:8).
Caring for the people
Acts 20:28 says the local church needs to care for the flock of God. That’s not just the “job” or responsibility of the pastor. It’s been said (and quoted to the point of losing its potency) that “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
If the vision of any church doesn’t involve caring for people, it doesn’t reflect Jesus. We can develop extremely well-thought-out strategies and programs for church growth, but if they do not involve loving people and caring for them, it doesn’t reflect Jesus.
Ephesians 4:12 says that church leaders are to “equip the saints for the work of the ministry.”
Sometimes church members can act as if the pastor’s job is to “fill the sanctuary.” I have to admit, I always hope the sanctuary wherever I preach is filled. But not so they can hear me speak, so they can be in fellowship and, hopefully, find a moment with God while they are there. But “filling pews” has never really been my biblical calling as a pastor. I’m called to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. I’ve always tried to do that through my teaching, primarily.
However, training people should be done by others besides the pastor. It should be part of the vision to serve as a congregation of people constantly trained, then sent out to execute the vision for Jesus.
Finally … We need to encourage each other to simply do something
Ephesians 6:7 says we are all to “render service for the Lord.” This is a nice way of saying as members we have the responsibility to get off our pews - or chairs - and do something.
Like it or not, we’re all in this together. We should encourage each other to ask the Lord if we need to teach a class; to start a children’s program, or a youth program, or a visitation program … or just whatever. Just be sure you are being led by God to do whatever it is you are doing. If not, it has the potential to fail and may even have negative results within the fellowship.
Remember, having a vision for the future of any church isn’t just the responsibility of the pastor. It’s more about the vision of the congregation than it is about the pastor’s vision. I’ve heard it said before that pastors come and go - but the church is the people. And I couldn’t agree more. Pastor’s have the responsibility to lead, but the vision must be a vision shared by the people of the church.
So … It’s your church … Where’s your vision?