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George Bullard's 101 ways to vision cast

| by Ronald Keener

There seems to be a plethora of resources on vision and visioning these days. Well, okay maybe not “a large or excessive amount of something” as one definition puts it. Three current, new books out there on church vision is not excessive, but it is good to see this much attention to the topic by congregations. 

Earlier I wrote about Executive Your Vision, written by Bill Easum and Scott Musselman (Abingdon), one to come I have yet to introduce, Be Mean About the Vision,by Shawn Lovejoy (Thomas Nelson), but here I want to commend to you Captured by Vision,by George W. Bullard Jr. (WestBow Press). 

I have never met Bullard, but I feel like he is an old friend; we have talked on the phone and I participate in his weekly webinar sessions of his FaithSoaring Churches organization. And I have followed his consulting work for some twenty years, when his outreach was about denominational support and shared by offset printing then. 

In his latest book the subtitle is “101 Insights to Empower Your Congregation,” and he defines and shares each one in turn. He let me share just one area that falls under the heading, “Excellence Eludes Pastors Not Passionate About Vision.” 

He notes that in many local congregations laypersons, staff and pastors “are not passionate about God’s empowering vision for their congregation,” which he explains under Vision Insight 026: “Pastors not passionate about God’s empowering vision for their congregation are likely to gain a reputation as mediocre.” 

He says that fewer than 20 percent of all pastors are true visionaries, and that “Without an awareness of vision from God for their congregations, pastors will do more wandering around than moving forward.” 

And what of that 80 percent who might be mediocre in the visioning process, and might risk the title of “former pastor” in their congregation? What if there is no urgency on the part of the pastor and staff for visioning? Vision casting needs to be the responsibility of all leaders of the congregation, but where there is less than the support desired in a congregation, Bullard suggests another approach. 

Vision Insight 029 says, “When pastors do not get vision easily, they may find some true visionaries among their congregation who do get it.” Recruit a team from the church who do understand visioning, and the pastor plays the role of coach in guiding that team. “This way the pastor is part of the visionary leadership,” Bullard writes, “and does not need to feel guilty about struggling with the concept of vision, how to discern it, and how to cast it.” 

Furthermore, “it is a significant dilemma when the senior or solo pastor does not get it about vision, and one or more staff persons, plus some laity do get it. It creates a real crisis in many congregations. This crisis can escalate if the pastor is in denial about vision and opposes approaches for dialogue from staff persons and lay leaders,” he says. 

With those organizational issues dealt with, Vision Insight 031 says: “Few followers get vision easily. Leaders must paint a picture of what the congregation could be like once captured by vision.” 

Explaining further, Bullard writes that “A key part of a pastor’s vision casting role is using preaching, teaching, and other formal and informal opportunities to tell stories and paint a vivid picture of what vision looks, feels, and acts like within the congregation and its community context.” 

Finally, for our purposes here, Bullard writes: “Always remember congregations are not organizations. They are organisms. As such, organizational principles that come strictly from the business world seldom fit congregations captured by God’s empowering vision. Day-to-day good organizational principles should be present in a congregation. Year-to-year the values of a spiritual organism should guide the pathway of a congregation.” 

The book is a timely, well considered, product that can be helpful in building better churches and thereby contributing to the kingdom, from one of God's true servants. 

Ronald Keener

Ronald E. Keener was editor of the national business and leadership magazine, "Church Executive," for eight years, and writes from Chambersburg, Pa. His church interests lie with congregational transformation, church health movement, church strengthening and revitalization and reporting on churches that have not just survived but thrived. 


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