I don’t know why the change of a calendar year feels like a fresh start, but it usually does. Anticipation for change builds up again. I can’t help but think of how the next 12 months could be different — better — than the last. It’s a season to dream and to make plans.
As church leaders, we have to make dreaming a non-negotiable. A clear vision is rarely the result of the audible voice of God or physical stone tablets. Sure, it’s happened, but He’s always speaking and we’re missing it if we only hold out for mountain-top moments.
I recently published an article by a member of my team call Is Your Vision a Mural or a To-Do List?
“If you had to describe what your individual church means to the world (both the community you’re in and beyond), what narrative would you give? If you asked an artist to paint your church’s vision, what would be in the mural?”
A “vision” without dreaming is usually an uninspiring list. Predictable art. A copy of someone else’s methods. So, we have to dream. Thankfully, there are a couple of principles we can follow to develop this muscle.
Cultivation & Collaboration
It takes both cultivation and collaboration to become a dreamer who sees vision become reality.
Cultivation starts with you and your personal spiritual journey. Only you and God (and maybe your spouse) know what unique trials, joys and unexpected surprises in your life have planted the seeds of a dream. You have to create mind space and regular times to reflect on where God has brought you. One important note: God will never give you a vision or dream that is contrary to His Word. (I’ve heard people blame God for doing some pretty stupid things that were certainly not God’s will because they didn’t align with God’s Word.)
Collaboration acknowledges that God speaks and helps you dream through the people around you. I personally can’t say I’ve ever heard the audible voice of God, but He has spoken to me time and again through conversations with other people who are seeking Him.
Understanding Your Dreamer Status
When my team is leading a church through our strategic planning process, we start the sessions off with an exercise called Thinking Wavelength from Paterson Center. The quick little test helps everyone in the room better understand how each other thinks. On a 1-10 scale, it ranks where each person falls on a scale from doer to dreamer. The basic premise is that God has given us different personality types for a reason, and that together we can accomplish what He’s given us to do.
If you’re a natural doer, you need to get people around you who make you a little uncomfortable — people who ask you questions like “What if?” You’ll never dream God-sized dreams without them.
If you’re a natural dreamer, you need to get people around you who make you a little more realistic — people who ask you things like “How?” and “Why?” You’ll flit from dream to dream, never following through on anything, without them.
This collaboration is what takes cultivated dreams and turns them into vision and execution that a church community can rally around.
Of these two things, you can probably tell that collaboration comes more naturally to me. That’s why I’ve invited some true dreamers to speak into the first part — how we can intentionally cultivate the dreams God has given us. Over the next few weeks, we’ll feature interviews with some dreamers God has used to breathe new life into the ways ministry is done. I hope you’ll join the conversation. (It would be a great time to subscribe, if you haven’t yet!)
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