So what is your vision for this church? 
I was not asked this question at my first church. I was the son of the former pastor. I had grown up in the church. I was only seventeen-years-old. They assumed I did not have a vision plan for the church. Or that I did not have vision worth sharing. So they never asked.
When I met with the pulpit committee of my present church, however, pastoral vision was a big issue. The committee had no real interest in me becoming their pastor. Yet they still wanted to know, “So what is your vision for this church?” With no real interest in becoming their pastor, I answered, “I don’t have a vision for this church. I have a vision for the church I serve in Los Angeles.”
A few months later, the church extended a call. A few months later, I relocated from one end of the country to the other. When I finally got boots on the ground, it seems the first question they asked was about my vision for the church.
A month after I moved to Jacksonville, the church had its annual business meeting. Leaders pressed me to establish my vision to communicate it to the church in the meeting. I called my pastor for advice. He began to talk to me about my six-month-old daughter. “When you brought Hailey home from the hospital,” he asked, “did you sit her down and give her the vision of the Charles family?” Of course not. “She still not ready for that, he added. “You can only love her and care for her now. You can explain the plan later on.”
He was right.
I arrived to a completed fiscal budget and church calendar. And the church was in the midst of a storm. It was not time to cast vision. It was time to preach and pray and love and wait and heal. When the time was right, I would talk more about ministry plans.
When I began to talk about my hopes, plans, and goals, it was not received well. Casting my vision to leaders who did not trust me (and vice versa) felt like giving my playbook to the opposing coach to read before the game. Every plan I shared gave them opportunity to set up their defense to block me. It felt like trusting strangers to babysit my newborn. So I just stopped talking.
During one discussion, a key leader told me I was not “curious.” He felt I did not want to learn. And that I did not seem to be interested in the affairs of the church. I had no vision, he thought. This was as far from the truth as it could be. But I understood where he was coming from.
It was not as if I did not have any plans. But my plans where overtly biblical, spiritual, pastoral. I emphasized prayer, Bible study, evangelism, discipleship, service, fellowship, and Sunday School. You know, things many church leaders and church goers have litter interest in. It was about four years into my pastorate before I started promoting strategic leadership plans. And I am glad I waited.
My simple, practical advice is that you be very careful with “vision” talk.
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