5 Keys to Communicating a Successful Vision

Great leaders lead with great vision!

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In my experience with Student Pastors, we do not need much assistance with creating vision for ministry. Many student pastors excel in their chosen field because they are idealists, dreamers, and creative.

But a great vision is worth nothing without the complimentary skill set to communicate it. Vision without strategic and well-intentioned communication remains just an imaginary nugget. Vision requires communication.

Great vision is worth nothing without the complimentary skill set to communicate it.

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Communication is a necessary ability that any effective leader must seek to develop and nurture. It is a skill that demands time, patience, study, and mentorship of other good communicators. Leaders who communicate effectively establish credibility among those who follow them. Effective communication clearly and unmistakably sets forth your vision into motion with limited obstacles. It also rallies others who may not know you toward your cause. Quite simply, vision hinges upon the methodology and intentionality of communication.

Since I have been serving with Hillside Church, I have encountered a few major vision feats that demanded clear and well-articulated communication strategies, namely The India Project. Through these situations, I have developed 5 key principles for how to communicate a successful vision to those who follow my leadership (and even those who don't).

1. Make it God-sized. I have learned that people are not so much interested in following me just for the sake of following me. They want to go somewhere. And not just to where I think they should go, but in my line of work, they want to follow the will of God for their lives. As a Pastor, it is not enough for me to develop and implement a vision that fits my needs and desires. Instead, I am called to humble my personal desires and make any vision for the church God-sized. Sometimes, they seem near impossible. They may not even seem attainable. But Christians follow a God who raised our Savior from the dead, so certainly God can accomplish a vision fit for God! If you vision is capable of being reached in a week, then you named a goal, not a vision. Take it back to the drawing board, pray through it, and only when it begins to feel impossible are you headed in the right direction!

2. Define the Why. This may be the most important key to communicating vision. It needs to fit within the values, structures, and ethos of the given community. You may want to build a 20,000 square foot community center for teenagers. That's definitely God-sized, but does it fit within the schema of your community? Vision enhances community. It draws folks to God. It leads the people to the next thing. Pray through the why and ensure that it fits the direction of the people with whom you lead. The Why will make or break your leadership in the long-term.

3. Make it Specific. This is a core practical challenge for every leader. Effective communication requires planned time and lots of re-writes. You will not hit the nail on the head on the first try, especially if you are new to your craft. I know from experience. If you think you will, then you are merely setting yourself up for disappointment and shame. You will need to draft, write, re-write, ask for proofreads, and then re-write again. Distill your main points to bit-sized sound bites that can be embedded into the memory of those who follow you. This will uphold their integrity and intelligence, while earning their trust for you.

4. Stay on Mission. Your mission is akin to the 'Why' in Key #2. You know and understand your vision better than anyone. Communicate only the necessary sound bites at the appropriate times and places. Some folks who follow you only need a simple answer. Others may need more detailed and nuanced responses. In any case, stay on mission and do not stray. Tangents kill momentum and cloud the vision. Remain on mission by outlining your talking points, simplifying complex issues, and using easy, familiar language. The mission ought to drive the vision and remind people of the ever-important "Why."

5. Begin with You. I once heard that great visions begin with "I." You are the nuclear reactor of the vision. As the leader who implements and advocates for your vision, people will follow your energy, enthusiasm, and passion for it! Great vision usually conjures up fear for folks, including the leader, especially if it is God-sized! There is room for you to express your own personal fear - in fact, when done in an appropriate, healthy way, this invites others to share their one and work through it. But if your fear hinders or overwhelms you, then it will for others, as well, and ultimately kill the vision. Pray through whatever anxiety and fears this conjures up for you, and own your vision for the sake of the church and the people of God. The vision must begin somewhere, and it begins with you! Step forth in faith! Be the light on a hill! And trust in the living God to make you a nuclear reactor. Communicate vision with confidence!

QUESTION: Share with us about your experience of when you have communicated vision. What process and tools did you use? How did the people who followed you respond to your communication?