The Idiots Guide to Missional Vision!
What is missional vision, and how do you get it?
A missional vision sets out where you and your group are going – it is your defining purpose. It’s all about seeing a gap between the kingdom of God and reality in a particular area and allowing him to make us part of the solution.
Examples might be…
‘The transformation of… (a particular neighbourhood)’
‘Living as young families on mission’
‘Discipling entrepreneurs and business leaders’
How to develop a missional vision
To develop a vision we need to hear God and then put it into practice. As we pray and seek God, we can look and listen for his call in very practical ways. Then we can begin to discern what the vision is, think about how to communicate it and then act in faith.
…at who you are. What do you love doing? How do you spend time? What are your passions? What breaks your heart? Our missional purpose comes out of who we are, not who we aren’t.
….at your context. Where are the needs? Where are the gaps between the Kingdom of God and your reality? Where might God already be moving? Do you have people of peace in any area of your life? We are aiming to join in with what God is doing rather than striking out into a new area on our own.
…to God! Many of our leaders have experienced a growing sense of call over time, simply from spending time with God. I’m struck by one particular leader who is developing a vision for his business based simply on how Jesus communicated to his disciples in the gospels.
…to others. What do other people see in you? Are there people who are prophetically gifted around you, who you could ask to pray for you?
As you begin to think, pray and talk to others about these things, you may begin to see areas of overlap. Discerning your vision may take time – one leader had to refine her vision three times over a couple of years before really feeling she was on the right track. It wasn’t an easy process, but trying different things helped her work out what God was and wasn’t saying. Now her group is very fruitful.
How you communicate your vision is important. A simple, short and memorable phrase is best, so that every member of your group knows it and can say it. This helps the group stay on course and move together, and it makes it easy to tell others what you are about. It’s usually good to tell people repeatedly – they may not get it straight away.
Once you have a vision, your group can step out in faith towards it. The vision also acts as a framework for all sorts of other decisions in life. One leader, for example, had a vision to show Jesus to children in a deprived neighbourhood, but realised a holiday club she was putting lots of time into wasn’t reaching the right children. It didn’t fit with her vision, so she pulled out of the leadership team.
A final note is that it can be tempting to short-circuit the listening process and have our own good ideas, something I’ve definitely been known to do! In my experience, though, these ventures just don’t seem to have sticking power. Instead, when we listen for God’s voice and step out in faith, we can look expectantly for the fruit he wants to bring.
Catherine Hartston is the Missional Communities Team Leader at Westwood Church Coventry.
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