15 Looming Failures in a Vacuum of Vision Casting

Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.   – Proverbs 29:18 (kjv)
“We don’t need that vision stuff. We just love God and love people.”
“I don’t like to sit around and talk about mission or values or strategic plans, I like getting things done.”
“I’m not a visionary like [successful pastor in town], people just need more commitment to the Word.”
“Just preach Jesus, that’s all the vision the church needs.”
Recently, I have heard more than just a few pastors use statements like the above. For some, even using the word ‘vision’ brings forth a kind of extra-biblical, crystal-ball, predict-the-future fear. However, casting vision is simply this: articulating a picture of God’s better future for your church.
Vision casting is critical because people need a picture. They can focus with a picture. They can mark progress in their own spiritual growth with a picture. They can see beyond Sunday worship attendance with a picture. They can survive seasons in the wilderness with a picture. They can understand the real nature of discipleship with a picture. Jesus cast vision of a coming Kingdom and taught His followers with pictures.
Without a picture… people wander. They more easily prioritize ball games and lake vacations over the things of God.
As leaders, when we fail to cast a clear, concise and compelling vision of where God is taking us, people drift in and out of church. They fail to find the greater value, because we are living off of Sunday-to-Sunday leadership. This holds to be particularly true for the younger generations, who are seeking to make a tangible impact and realize purpose with their lives, not just attend another Sunday event. After all, they have near instant access to uplifting worship music, podcast sermons, and live-streamed services. Vision unites people around a calling that is contextual to a local church and catalytic to spiritual growth in everyday life.
At Auxano, we introduce the need to “rethink vision” with (non-exegetical) wordplay on the KJV language of Proverbs 29:18, saying that where there is no vision, the people… cherish. They cherish things like paint colors, or casual dress, or hymns, or electric guitars, or children-down-front moments, or even ric-rac-edged Sunday School bulletin boards. And often, these well-intentioned people will fight until death over seemingly insignificant, non-eternal issues. Why? When we fail to introduce them to a lasting picture of discipleship and growth in Christ, they will eventually make the temporal holy.
Lately I have been wondering what else happens when leaders neglect vision in their churches. After 20+ years on church staff, or serving alongside church staff, the failures of living in a vacuum of vision casting are more clear every day.
Where there is no vision…
…the people cherish.
…the preferences flourish.
…the surrogates nourish.
…the few accomplish.
…the staff relinquish.
…the sparks extinguish.
…the trends demolish.
…the power-hungry admonish.
…the controlling abolish.
…the bored refurbish.
…the passions diminish.
…the enemies relish.
…the valuables tarnish.
…the insecure embellish.
…the leaders vanish.
Avoiding any, or all, of the failures above begins with a clearly-cast vision of where God is leading the church. Here is a powerful article from Auxano founder, Will Mancini, on what a clear, Biblical picture of the future could look like for local church leaders through the Horizon Storyline tool.