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Visionary Planning

The Nature of Vision

Vision must be the driving force within any organization, whether it be a congregation, business, volunteer club, etc. The organization must have a compelling picture that depicts what could be, and what should be, in the organization’s future. Vision addresses the question, “Where are we going?”

The vision must be developed and properly communicated before anything else can effectively be done. Everything flows from the vision. So visionary planning is the first dimension of organizational planning.

Vision - A Picture

One of the common misconceptions about vision is that it has to do with action, or what is to be done. Vision is not primarily about action. Rather, it is about a future state of being. It is a picture of what the individual or organization will look like at some future point.

To illustrate the idea of vision referring to a future state, I often describe vision as God sending us a snapshot of our congregation’s future—a picture of how our congregation should look someday. This snapshot is one that has vivid color, with enough detail that it gives a clear direction on how to move forward.

This snapshot doesn’t usually come suddenly. Rather, it comes gradually. When God gives us a vision, it usually starts out as something very foggy—perhaps so foggy that it doesn’t make sense for us to even try to communicate what we are seeing.

Eventually, if we pay attention, the vision God sends will become clearer. That snapshot, foggy at first, will ultimately have high resolution and will be quite vivid. However, we have to keep in mind that downloading a large, high resolution photo to a computer takes a long time. So is the usual case with a vision from God.

The Vision: Statement or Story

Many organizations use what they refer to as a vision statement. But I believe that a clear vision from God would have to be communicated more as a newspaper story, or perhaps an entire newspaper section. If your vision can be written out in less than a couple of pages, it’s probably not really a vision.

The Visionary Life Cycle

Over time, a vision can “run dry”. Great excitement usually surrounds a well-articulated vision in the early years after its introduction, but that excitement can wane as time goes on. The case is often that “newness motivates”! Vision probably needs to be renewed at least every 7–10 years or so, simply because it no longer inspires the members in the organization.

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