April 21, 2014 Tony Morgan

7 Warning Signs Your Church has Ministry Silos: The Vision Test

Because the issue of ministry silos is one of the most common challenges churches face, I asked the Unstuck Team to identify warning signs that they’ve experienced. Here’s the first one they identified:

1. The vision isn’t clear.

Having a mission statement isn’t enough. The mission establishes in ten words or less, why do we exist? In addition to mission buy-in, though, everyone needs to clearly know where are we going? That’s the vision.

The vision has to be specific and measurable. It will probably be reflected in several statements that define a clear picture of where God is taking your church in the future. If you have a solid vision, it will both rally people and repel people. You want that.

Don’t confuse your values with your vision. You can value hospitality, but hospitality isn’t a vision for the future.

Don’t confuse your strategy with your vision. You can embrace authentic worship as part of your strategy, but authentic worship is not a vision for the future.

Don’t confuse your doctrine with your vision. You can believe in biblical authority, but biblical authority is not a vision for the future.

What does this look like? Let me give you some examples.

Part of Granger Community Church’s vision is this:

We will utilize our fabulous Children’s Center and launch a weekday faith-based preschool and/or daycare to meet the growing needs of parents as they try to raise their kids with virtue.

That’s specific. That’s measurable. Everyone knew part of their vision to equip parents an encourage healthy families was to open a Children’s Center, and they did it.

Here’s another example. NewSpring Church includes this statement about their vision:

NewSpring Church has a passion to continue growing, impacting lives and using technology and the arts to reach 100,000 people for Jesus Christ.

That’s specific. That’s measurable. And, because they believe God is calling them to reach 100,000 people for Jesus Christ, everything they do today reflects that vision.

Just to explain this clearly, many churches have a mission statement, core values and a strategy for discipleship. (For example: Love God. Grow Christ-followers. Serve others.) Very few churches have a clear, bold vision for where they are going in the future. Frankly, one key reason leaders don’t go there is because clear vision also creates accountability.

After you establish the vision, you have to nail down your strategy. If vision defines where God is leading us in the future, strategy answers the question how are we going to get there? The strategy requires action. It should focus time, money, space, leadership, prayer, etc. When the strategy is clear, it’s much easier to determine what’s important now?

To most effectively eliminate ministry silos, you need to engage this vision and strategy process through cross-functional planning. In other words, this isn’t a top-down edict. Instead, leaders from across the ministry gather to establish future direction…together.

So, how are you doing? Do you have a clear vision? If not, that’s the first warning sign that your church may have ministry silos.

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Tony Morgan

Tony is the Chief Strategic Officer and founder of The Unstuck Group, theunstuckgroup.com. For 14 years, Tony served on the senior leadership teams at West Ridge Church (Dallas, GA), NewSpring Church (Anderson, SC) and Granger Community Church (Granger, IN). He's written several books and articles that have been featured with the Willow Creek Association, Catalyst and Pastors.com.
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