Four Vision Casting Lessons in the Church Planting Process

In the last few weeks I’ve had to do a great deal of vision casting…probably more than any other time in my life. On May 27th, Karen and I announced that we are planting a new church in the downtown/West 7th area of Fort Worth. You can read more here and view our vision video here.

In just a matter of weeks I feel like I’ve had more vision-casting breakfasts, lunches, dinners, coffee meetings, and gatherings than I can count. And the response has been overwhelmingly positive. We’ve been humbled as people have chosen to partner with us as we embark on this new journey.

Through this process, I’ve observed a few valuable lessons about vision and vision-casting. While I’m certainly not a Jedi master vision caster, here are four insights I’ve found particularly important.

1. The Process of Vision-Formation is Underestimated

The birthing of a vision in a leader’s heart is a often a raw mixture of pain, sweat, prayer, learning, editing, reflecting, and dreaming. Leaders have a biased toward action, and sometimes that bias trumps the vision-formation process. We want it quick and we want it now. While visions may form quickly, my experience is that the visions with the deepest roots often grows slowly over time. As I reflect on my own vision-formation process, I observe two things:

  • The values that shaped my vision have been “cooking” for over ten years.
  • The words that describe my vision have been “focusing” for over three years.

I’m not saying your vision-formation process has to take this long. But don’t rush it. In fact, there’s likely a deep connection between who God has been shaping you to be and what God is now calling you to do. That’s been the case for me. My vision has cooked for over ten years because during that period two major values formed inside of me. Those values shaped my vision and are now finding a new platform for expression. While impatience often tempted me to move quicker, I now see how perfect God’s timing is. If you’re struggling with the vision-formation process, here’s five thoughts to help you capture a vision.

2. The Fingerprint is the Game Changer in Vision

I cannot emphasize enough why this is so important. When leaders pop out a vision like it’s a bag of microwave popcorn, it usually lacks creativity and looks like a mass-produced, mind-numbing replica of another leader’s vision. We’ve heard it said a thousand times: vision is like a fingerprint. But my experience is quite the opposite. Most visions today look like they were formed by hands with melted fingertips…original prints are nowhere to be found.

Most visions today were formed by melted fingertips...original prints are nowhere to be found. Click To Tweet

If your vision has no uniqueness, creativity, or DNA that you can call your own, then you may have rushed through the process of vision formation. Remember, your vision needs substance. Fingerprints aren’t captured in water. They need a pliable surface where they are captured. Is your vision more like water or like clay?

3. Clarity Gives Vision its Power and Endurance

I believe the best cure for vision-confusion is to write it. Vision becomes clear when you are able to put it on paper. That clarity gives it power. This sounds easier than it is. You’re trying to take all of the ideas, pictures, and emotion bottled up inside of you and explain them in words that people can understand. But if you never walk through that process, your vision will feel eternally vague, obscure, and lifeless. Remember, if your vision is unclear to you, it will be utter confusion to the people you share it with.

Three years ago, I began asking God a question that started the process of focusing my vision. I wrestled, prayed, reflected, and edited during this time. Slowly the fog lifted and the vision came into focus: Our Vision is to see cities transformed by inspiring community and influencing culture. Is it perfect? Nope. There’s not a perfect vision out there. But it’s extraordinarily clear in my mind.

Not only does clarity give your vision power, it  actually makes it more enduring. Why? Because something can only endure if people understand it well enough to share with others. Otherwise, it will die in the mind of the leader. One of the biggest keys to casting clear vision is to keep it simple. 

4. Passion Makes Your Vision Contagious

If your vision doesn’t make you sit up straight, bring inflection to your voice, cause your heart to race, and make you want to pound the table, then your vision has no life. People are not inspired by a vision that’s on life support. They must do more than hear it…they must feel it.

Question: What other insights would you add to the process of vision formation and vision casting?