Vision is an essential component of any business or church leadership class. Whenever a consultant evaluates a church, you can be sure that vision is at the top of his list. As far as I can tell, vision is the focus, the goal that you drive toward. It is a picture of the future that you are heading for. Vision can be a very helpful tool in focusing your organization and being sure that all resources are allocated for one purpose. Yet I have found that vision can have a disturbing effect on the church to a certain degree.
Take a situation in which a new ministry opportunity presents itself to a particular congregation. The role of a vision statement to a certain degree is to help the congregation decide what to do with the new opportunity. Yet the threat in such a situation is that the vision will obscure the voice of the Holy Spirit and move the church away from prayerful refleciton.
I write this not as a call to drop vision statements, but merely to point out the inherent danger in a vision statement for Christians. Obviously God himself is the vision that we are pursuing and he has the right to redirect us at any time. This does not mean that we avoid vision statements, in fact, they can be very helpful when used well. Yet, there is a need for a tension between what we think God has called us to do in the past (which is now represented in a vision statement) and what God may be calling us to do in the present.
I should note that this issue came up for me when we first response to a new ministry opportunity was, “Does it fit in with the vision statement?” I stopped, gasped, reached for the blue bat to whack myself in the head, and then rephrased my comment, “Is God calling us to do this?”