by Bruce Barkhauer, Center for Faith and Giving
Vince Lombardi, former head coach of the Green Bay Packers, is reported to have famously said: “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing!” For professional sports teams, winning drives every decision from strategy to personnel.
We might paraphrase that for the Church. Vision isn’t everything, it is the only thing! A well-crafted vision drives most every facet of church life, impacting planning, program, preaching and personnel. It determines what we say “yes” to; and also when to say “no”. A gospel-based vision inspires, attracts, and calls us to deeper discipleship. It is the heartbeat of a congregation’s movement as a community.
A vision “well done” will be a part of the church’s DNA. The people will know, understand, and apply it in their life of faith. Vision is more than a statement we print on our letterhead. It is sewn into the fabric of our relationships, a driving force that defines what we do and why we do it. It becomes the measure of how we assess our success.
As communities of faith are preparing budgets and seeking dollars to underwrite their mission, vision plays a vital role in communication and, ultimately, success in gathering all of the resources, (spiritual gifts, people, and financial assets) to accomplish what God has called you to do.
One way to help people connect the offering plate to the ministry and mission of the church is the narrative budget approach and vision is key. The narrative budget connects the dots between your passion for mission and the resources required to make it so.
Ask this simple question: As we are engaging in our annual campaign (seeking financial capital), are we resourcing a vision or are we just funding a budget? If you are focused on what it “costs to run the church”, then you are missing the point. This is neither inspiring nor is it biblical. People have their own bills to pay, so they are not terribly interested in paying bills for the church! It may be a sign that you are not focused on the needs of the community around you. You need a grander, bolder vision.
However, if your answer is you are seeking to bear witness to the love of God in Jesus Christ, then you are asking people to empower a calling, changing the lives of individuals and transforming the world. You are funding a vision. You are calling people to participate in something larger than themselves and, not surprisingly, such a challenge garners positive results. Money follows mission. People want to invest in ministry that matters.