Recently, my friends at Exponential released their new FREE eBook, Dream Big: Finding Your Pathway to Level 5 Multiplication. This new title is the third in the series of books focusing on Exponential’s annual themes—all focused on seeing the local church multiply. This year, Exponential is talking about the critical need to identify a vision for multiplication and make a workable plan for actually becoming a multiplying church.
I love this focus. As leaders, we all need vision for the future—a specific, shareable picture of what all of us as a church are moving toward. But as we all know, carrying out that vision can be difficult. In this guest post, Exponential Director Todd Wilson and vision expert Will Mancini show us how to identify two of our biggest vision slayers:
Imagine getting a group of venture capitalists fired up about a new restaurant concept that’s going be the next phenomenon across the dining landscape of America. As the drum roll begins, you enthusiastically announce, “We are going to serve … food!” You can almost feel the disappointment and sense of “underwhelmed-ness.”
There’s nothing compelling or share-worthy about bland, non-descript generic vision. It doesn’t change anybody or anything.
Big Dreams Get Replaced With Lesser Visions
Although many leaders start out with a big dream for multiplication, they can quickly realize that the dream is difficult to keep alive. But it really doesn’t go away completely as much as it drifts toward generic kinds of vision.
Despite the fact that most leaders in ministry are truly visionaries, they fall prey to generic forms of ministry vision all of the time. How many times have you heard a church say its vision is to, “to reach more people for Christ,” or, “to change the world?”
At that point, we miss the opportunity to engage people in a specific dream. On the flip side, think about what it looks like when someone awakens to the idea that they play a significant role in multiplying the Kingdom.
I (Will) remember reading this statement somewhere in my research for God Dreams: “We are kept from our goal not by obstacles but by a clear path to a lesser goal.” When you lead with generic vision, you’re leading toward a lesser goal. It’s not the real dream that God has for you and your church. It doesn’t possess any of the impact a clear vision is supposed to have. Proverbs 28:19 tells us: “When people can’t see what God is up to, they stumble all over themselves” (The Message).
Think of generic vision another way: It’s actually robbing you of progress. You won’t even get close to realizing your church’s full multiplication potential with a generic sense of your church’s future. I (Todd) like what pastor and best-selling author Rick Warren says about vision: A vision is only dynamic when it’s specific. You need a specific and actionable vision.
Discuss with your team:
- Does our vision reflect, “what God is up to”?
- Is our vision for multiplying disciples and our church specific?
- Is it actionable? Can we start to create a plan for carrying it through?
- After reading this, would we say we have a “generic” vision
- When we share our vision, do we see or sense people getting excited about it and wanting to engage in it?
Big Dreams Get Buried Under the Tensions of Multiplication
Despite what we read in Scripture and despite how we spring into ministry, certain external tensions of multiplication become reality:
- The leadership team can’t understand why you want to give resources to a church planter when the church doesn’t even have a building.
- The idea of planting when your church still has unfilled seats seems counter-intuitive to people.
- People continue to ask, “Why would we send out some of our best leaders to plant another church when our attendance is just starting to increase?”
- Some people grasp the vision of multiplication, but others don’t and continue to be naysayers.
- The lack of a physical building is a constant stressor.
Any of these tensions can keep you from following through on multiplication. Remember that throughout Scripture God has called His Church to multiply. Jesus’ dream (expressed in Acts 1:8) is about a movement of multiplying disciples who will be His witnesses “to the ends of the earth.” When you work through the tensions and remain committed to your vision to see your church multiply disciples and churches, rest assured that you’re aligned with God’s heart.
Discuss with your team:
- What tensions are we experiencing as we purpose to multiply
- What are three specific reasons why everyone isn’t on the same page?
- How are we praying about our vision?
- Do we really believe that Jesus has called us to multiply?
- Do we need to cast this vision in a different way?
At Exponential, we’re passionate about coming alongside church leaders to help them multiply! To that end, we have numerous FREE, downloadable resources you can easily access at our website. We also have five opportunities this year to be part of an Exponential live gathering, including two national conferences (the upcoming Exponential East in Orlando and Exponential West in Los Angeles) and three smaller regional events in Washington, D.C., Chicago and Houston. We hope you’ll consider joining us as we dream big for multiplication and learn what it takes to actually become a multiplying church.