A Framework for Turning Vision Into Strategy

“Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.” – Proverbs 29:18

Vision. It’s the rallying cry of leadership. Cast vision. Cast vision. Cast vision! That’s what we hear all the time. But how do you go about turning vision into strategy? If vision is the place a leader stays, he has left out half the battle. It is not enough to simply cast vision for the future. That vision must be turned into strategy. You could call it a strategic vision.

A Framework for Turning Vision Into Strategy

I’ve been reading Will Mancini’s new book, God Dreams: 12 Vision Templates for Finding and Focusing Your Church’s Future and it has been absolutely eye opening. In the future I’ll do a full on review of the book and talk about what you can get out of it, but for now I will share with you a principle that Will talks about in his book and, not only there, but is also stressed by other top leaders today.

A Framework for Turning Vision Into Strategy

I don’t know about you, but Bible College and Seminary didn’t offer any classes on strategic vision where these kinds of things would be stressed, taught, emphasized, and engrained into the minds of students. If you were blessed with the opportunity to take a class on this topic, then you’re ahead of the curve!

The Key With Vision

The key with vision is that it’s not simply some abstract picture where blotches of paint are thrown at a canvas. In order for vision to be effective and something that can turn into strategic vision it must be specific, vivid, and clear. In other words, would your church know if the vision was ever reached?

Example 1

Abstract – in the next ten years, we will become a church of small groups.

Specific – in the next ten years, we will become a church where 75% of our members are involved in weekly small group gatherings.

Example 2

Abstract – in the next ten years, we will become a church that helps address the drug crisis in our community.

Specific – in the next ten years, we will partner with drug rehabilitation professionals to create Gospel-centered rehab facilities in every major neighborhood in our city. These facilities will focus on both the practical restoration and the spiritual formation of those who enter into rehab. 

Do you see the difference? In each of these examples, one is a nice thought that isn’t measurable and the other is specific, clear, and gives you a picture of what it would look like to have the vision manifest into reality.

Turning Vision Into Strategy

Turning Vision into Strategy

Once you and your leadership team have prayerfully discovered the vision for your church, you can now move into the second half of the battle: turing vision into strategy. Above you can see a whiteboard example (my drawing skills are crazy terrible!) of how you should think about going about this.

However far you have gone out (5 years, 10 years, 20 years), you must place that specific, clear, and vivid vision in its timeframe. The vision arc is an arc because you are jumping over what it takes to get there (at first) and only focusing on the result.

Once you have discovered the vision, you must now go from that point in time and work backwards toward the present.

Guiding Questions for 10 Years Out

1. In order to see this vision become reality, what 4 actions must we begin implementing 5-7 years from now?

2. In order to see our 10-year vision become reality, what must become our reality 3 years from now?

3. In order to see the 3-year picture become reality, what 4 actions must we begin implementing this year?

*This is a modified version of Will Mancini’s process which I’ll show you soon in a separate article. Or you can go purchase his book yourself! Buy it here.*

Step by step, you work backward from the vision. 

What This Does

Once you go through a process like this, your team will know exactly what the main focuses are for the year. At the end of the year, you’ll know if you are on track or not, and make adjustments accordingly.

Vision is a great thing to have, but it cannot stop there. It must turn into strategic steps that will impact the here and now.

If vision never moves to strategy, it becomes a far-fetched dream with no hope of seeing the light of day.

When you and your team begin to move toward a strategic vision, watch out! That big dream you see in the future may just find its way into reality.

What About You?

What would you add? Are there other important questions you would have you and your team work through? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or on social media (Facebook Group | Facebook Page | Twitter).

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Written by Brandon Kelley

Brandon Kelley is the co-founder of Rookie Preacher and the author of Preaching Sticky Sermons and Crucified to Life. He serves as the Lead Pastor of First Church of Christ in Bluffton, IN. He also writes at BrandonKelley.org. You can follow him @BrandonKelley_. Watch his sermons here.


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