"We need help giving vision and direction to our congregation. What would you suggest?"

I am frequently asked a question like this. So I huddled with respected and trusted colleagues and came up with these suggestions:

  1. Begin with leadership prayer sessions together. Then plan a leadership team retreat to begin brainstorming and planning. (This can be guided by available published resources and/or with an outside facilitator-coach.)
  2. I would highly recommend Thomas G. Bandy's Moving Off the Map (Abingdon, 1998). It may be the best and is easy to use. It gives a list of probing questions to ask. It also lays out methods for bringing the congregation together to get it done, with some imaginative "right-brained" exercises and detailed "left-brained" step-by-step procedures. It is written in typical Easum-Bandy no nonsense style.
  3. Another widely used resource is Focused Ministry Resource Kit, by Terry Walling. Available through ChurchSmart, (800) 253-4276, www.churchsmart.com. $75.00. A notebook and cassette tapes. Designed for guiding an existing congregation through the process of arriving at a shared vision. It is not a quick fix. It suggests a process, provides help for group dynamics, etc. It helps the group ask three questions:

    • a) Where have we been? (The assumption is that the best indicators of what God wants for our future are already hinted at in what God has been doing among us in our past.)
    • Where are we going? (Provides a mechanism for getting a team to think through a vision ... caveat: I'm skeptical that a group can visioneer as well as an individual.)
    • Who can help us get there? (Helps the group identify growth barriers, issues, and further — identify coaches-mentors to assist.)

    Who can help us get there?
  4. Finally: Make yourselves accountable. It helps to have an outside coach (one known/trusted by the leadership), skilled in facilitating group discussion — to keep you moving on to 'next steps' toward pre-determined deadlines. Besides the ones listed above, there are many other tape and book helps, but the key is in the doing. Just getting started is the hardest part. DO IT, even if you need help getting it done.