This week between Christmas and New Year's is often a good time to reflect back on the past year and look ahead to your plans for the new one. Some people like to look back and note all the things they accomplished in the previous year. If they stayed busy and had some measure of success the year is considered successful. I think it's better to measure our activity by how well it enabled us to achieve our vision. It's easy to be very busy doing the wrong things, and much of what we do that is not in alignment with our vision will be wrong. That's why we can be very busy and yet see little, if any, change in our churches and other organizations.
There's not much we can do about the past except to learn from it and ensure we don't duplicate the same mistakes in the new year. As you look at your plans for the new year, how well are they aligned with your vision? Have you planned intentional activity that will bring you closer to achieving the vision God has for your ministry and/or church?
Of course, you can't answer that if you have not discerned God's vision for your church, and unfortunately that is the case for many churches. As I have worked with churches of all sizes, and especially smaller churches, I have found the vast majority of them have no sense of a clear vision for ministry. To make the problem worse, many of those churches that do have a vision have one that is so fuzzy or generic that it is really not helpful at all.
If your church is approaching a new year with no vision for ministry I strongly suggest investing the time and energy in discerning such a vision. Otherwise, your church will spend another year drifting along hoping that something good might somehow happen instead of being intentional about pursuing a God-given vision.
The mission of the church is simple and is the same for every church. It's found in the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. The vision will be different for every church because your vision will be how your church will accomplish that mission today in your community. Since every community is different with different needs, and since every congregation is made up of different people with different gifts and passions for ministry, the vision will be different.
To put this in another way, whether you are in the largest mega-church or you are leading a small group meeting in a storefront, the mission will be the same. However, you will have a different vision for how you will accomplish that mission.
One reason so many churches struggle is because they do not understand God's vision for their church. Content to drift along they eventually drift into problems, conflict, and confusion. Spend time in vision discernment. You may need to bring someone in from outside your church to help lead this such as a denominational leader, a consultant, or a good coach. I've worked with several churches in vision discernment, and many of them found it to be a positive for their churches.
When your work is in alignment with your vision you find that you become much more effective, your work becomes more enjoyable because you can measure what you are doing against a target,and it become easier to prioritize your time.