Mar 04, 2022 | By Bishop John Schol

Part 1: Vision

Leaders who are not leading toward something rarely move forward and rarely succeed. Skilled leadership—providing direction through vision, missional clarity and goals—bears fruit. Vision provides direction and inspiration. Mission provides focus and alignment. And goals inform activity and progress. Jesus’ leadership used each of these.

Jesus’ vision was the Kingdom of God. It provided an image of God’s preferred future. Jesus told stories about it. He taught about it, and he lifted up people when they were achieving the vision.

Jesus’ mission was to proclaim Good News and deliver people from sin to life. Jesus was sent by God to bring Good News to the poor, to set free the captive and recover the sight of the blind (Luke 4:18-19). The miracles of Jesus delivered people to life, with the ultimate miracle being the resurrection, which delivered people from death to life.

Jesus’ goals were illustrated through the numerical reports of the Gospel writers. While the Gospels do not specifically state the goals, they certainly tell us that Jesus had a plan (4:18-19; John 7:6). And the Gospel writers point to the numbers of people healed, fed and delivered. The Gospel writers used numbers as an illustration that God was at work in and through the ministry of Jesus.

Today, the church is in a season of discerning what God has next for us. This is a time to discern and reframe God’s vision, missional clarity and ministries for a healthy body of Christ. This is a time for learning, experimentation and refinement to identify what is essential for the life of the church, as we move forward with God.

Over the next three months, I will talk with you about leaders providing direction through vision, mission and goals for ministry. Today I begin with vision.


Vision is discerning what is in God’s mind for us to become. God’s preferred future for the body of Christ will vary from congregation to congregation and ministry to ministry, based on context, church size and God’s calling for a congregation.

A vision should excite, motivate and inspire as it provides direction for a ministry or congregation. If you have ever written a vision statement, you know just how hard it is to come up with a memorable vision statement that captures excitement and inspiration.

Moses had several visions. One of his first was—“Let my people go!” Freedom. To a Jewish slave in Egypt, this didn’t take much imagination. They understood it, dreamed it, longed for it and were willing to sacrifice for it. This is a powerful mission statement because it arises from God’s preferred future and the people’s condition. While people generally know what freedom is, they also dream about what it might look like for them.

Moses second vision shortly followed—Forward: A promised land of milk and honey awaits. Here again, the vision arises from the people and their hope. A picture is painted, not by the statement but by people’s imagination. Vision helps people paint a picture in their mind.

When a vision loses its power

A vision loses its power when it is overstated and leaves little for the imagination. Suppose Moses’ vision had been, “We have been enslaved and tortured for too long; and freedom is what God desires for us, a freedom where we can choose for ourselves who we are, become who we want to be, and worship God as we please. And so there is a land across the Jordan River where we will settle; and it will be a place of abundance in our gathering and hunting, giving birth and raising our children to live happily together.

I think you get the point. While everything in the statement is true, it loses the power of simple eloquence: Freedom! Or Promised land, flowing with milk and honey.

Slogans aren’t vision statements either. A slogan strings together words and phrases that are important to people. Again, Moses’ vision could have been, We will be a people of freedom, justice, mercy and liberation. There is nothing wrong in this statement; but it is more of an affirmation of a group’s values than a vision.

Here are some memorable vision statements that provide direction and inspire people to act:

We will land on the moon in 10 years. –John Kennedy. The U.S. President said this before any American had circled the earth in a spaceship. This vision marshalled people, resources and talent to achieve the moon landing.

A job I can enjoy. –-Jared. Jared’s vision led him to leave the East Coast for Lake Tahoe, where he could work at a ski resort during the winter and enjoy boating in the summer. Jared just bought a new boat, his third, that he rents to people in the summer on Lake Tahoe. This vision anchored his need for income and his life’s passion and joy.

Become the reason others see and know God –Emily. A personal vision for her life.

Be a place where joy flourishes and your life’s purpose is fulfilled. –Christ Church. This vision is outwardly focused toward the people who have not yet come to the church, who are looking for a joyful, purposeful and fulfilled life. It is also, for the people already attending, what they continue to strive toward: joy and purpose.

This statement informs all ministry. In planning for ministry one can ask a powerful question that informs and inspires: What will we do in worship so that joy flourishes and people find their purpose or calling? How will we greet people so that joy flourishes? What will we study this year so that joy flourishes and people discover their purpose? As we do our ministry how will our joy flourish?

Using the Vision

It is important to publish the vision in church bulletins and web pages. It keeps it before the people. But when the vision comes to life in the people’s hearts, then the congregation becomes the vision.

You can help the vision live in people’s hearts by telling stories and illustrations about the people of the congregation. Using Christ Church’s vision, here are a few examples.

  • I visited Jim in the nursing home, and there he was sitting in the hallway in his wheelchair saying good morning to everyone and wishing them a good day. Joy flourishes in the hearts of the people of Christ Church.
  • I visited the volunteer work project by our Good Works Mission Team. It was lunchtime, and Christ Church volunteers invited the people from the street where they were working to have lunch with them. Music played, people met their neighbors, and people were joyful. Joy flourishes and purpose abounds through the people of Christ Church.
  • Sherry changed how she approached her job after attending the small group on Finding your purpose at work. She began to think of others and how she could help them do better. People find purpose at Christ Church.

Visioning, making it plan, writing it, casting it, telling stories about it will excite and inspire people to seek a Promise Land, to go for the moon, to be something better for the world and to dare to pursue risky changes. Flourish in visioning, so that your joy may be full and your purpose meaningful.

Keep the faith!


This is part one of Bishop Schol’s three-article series, titled “Direction: A Key Ingredient for Successful Leadership.” Parts 2 and 3, to be published in April and May, will focus on Mission and Goals, respectively.