“Making Disciples” is the church’s assignment given directly from the lips of Jesus in Matthew 28:19. It should always be on our minds and hearts as we lead our churches forward for the glory of Christ. Aubrey Malphurs is a prolific writer and professor at Dallas Theological Seminary. He believes that our churches must get back to disciple making. Recently I was in a conference he led based on his book, Strategic Disciple Making. Dr. Malphurs shared ten major barriers that churches are facing as they strive to make a difference in their community and make disciples. We are going to look at these more closely in the next several blogs. Here’s his list.
- Lack of vision;
- Lack of outreach and passion;
- Congregations not willing to change;
- Lack of leadership-intentional leader training;
- Lack of prayer;
- Lack of unity;
- Congregation too comfortable;
- Little ownership of mission/purpose;
- Resistant power structures;
- Church unwilling to adapt to a changing culture.
The importance of vision is paramount to any organization including the church. Studies indicate that pastors and congregations are struggling with the vision concept. In commenting on pastors and their visions, George Barna writes, “But when we asked these pastors, ‘Can you articulate God’s vision for the ministry of your church?’ we found that roughly 90 percent of them could articulate a basic definition of ministry. But only 2 percent could articulate the vision for their church.” David Goetz writes, “In Leadership’s study, however, pastors indicated that conflicting visions for the church was their greatest source of tension and the top reason they were terminated or forced to resign.” Clearly, vision is of utmost importance to leaders as they move their organization forward and for most of us that organization is the church.
Vision-answers the “what” question…what we desire to become in the future because of our values. What we envision for each member to become in Christ. Where are we going as a congregation? What would it look like if we accomplished our purpose? What would our church look like in the future if we followed through on all our values and purpose, and mission. Vision begins with the mission. Vision exists because the mission isn’t completed yet. Without the mission, vision is vague and without vision the mission will not be accomplished. They are linked together.
Most people and churches are visionless and aim at absolutely nothing and they are very successful. They hit it every time! Vision gives us a focused target. For the church, that target is two words…make disciples!
Churches need a clear vision based on their mission. Vision is essential to a church. The core-the Great Commission-does not change. The details for moving the vision forward may change. The vision provides us with a picture of what the mission will look like as it is realized and accomplished. What might our future look like? Jonathan Swift said, “vision is the art of seeing things invisible.” Charles Kettering said, “My interest is in the future because I’m going to spend the rest of my life there.”
Lack of vision is parallel with a lack of faith. Our vision is driven from God’s Word and when we do not exercise faith in that Word we lose our vision. Is your church driven by the biblical vision of making disciples? If not, why not?