Resisting Vision Envy

As a church planter, I was constantly seeking to learn from those who had gone ahead of me. But as I listened to these seasoned planters I often found myself filled with “Vision Envy.” Do you know what I mean? You listen to another visionary, and suddenly your vision seems too small, too insignificant or too bland. That’s when we’re tempted to “borrow” part of their vision, or add elements to our vision that God never intended us to include. While it’s a great practice to listen to and learn from other visionaries, we must be aware of the traps of Vision Envy.

Trap #1 – You miss the unique vision God has called you to accomplish in your community. In my friend Will Mancini’s book Church Unique, he provides an exercise you can use with your team to identify the unique calling of your church. He calls this your Kingdom Concept. Your Kingdom Concept consists of Your Local Predicament, Collective Potential, and Apostolic Esprit. These three things working together help you answer the question: What will our church do better than 10,000 others? When you can answer that you are well on your way to discovering God’s unique vision for your church.

Trap #2 – You’re overcome with a sense of inferiority. My friend, Chip Judd says, “Comparison is the root of all inferiority.” Comparing your vision with the vision of another planter will not lead to a healthy perspective. But if you learn transferable principles from their vision its a win.

I was meeting with a visionary leader recently and was blown away by the size of his vision. Immediately “vision envy” crept into my soul, but once I recognized it, I was able to celebrate his vision and learn from his visioning ability. Listening to him lead me to ask myself a new set of questions, challenged me to think deeper about the measures of my vision and refine the way I share my vision.

Trap #3- You stop looking to God as the source of vision. Rather than spending time in solitude seeking the heart of God, we surf the Internet in an attempt to scheme up a bigger and better vision. There is no greater vision than the one God speaks directly into your heart, no matter how big or how small.

It’s a valuable practice to listen to the vision of other church planters. Just make sure you don’t fall to the traps of Vision Envy. There’s nothing more powerful than being given a vision straight from the heart of God. Moses spent hours in the Tent of Meeting face to face with God. This discipline gave him the fortitude to endure the times when the vision of the Promise Land seemed insurmountable. Nehemiah, wept, prayed and fasted as God formulated a vision for the rebuilding of the walls of Jerusalem. His time with God generated passion that others saw and longed to follow. Paul had a personal encounter with Christ that not only gave him a vision but put a fire in his soul to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth.

Vision envy will produce a pseudo vision you can chase. But it will not give you the conviction and passion that comes from a personal vision encounter with God.

Seeing a Movement in Your City

On October 6-7 I have the privilege of being a part of a very exciting opportunity.  LAUNCH is sponsoring the City Movement Forum at Exponential West.  Read what my friend Chris Lagerlof has to say about this unique gathering. 

Too often pastors ask the question, “how do I grow my church?” instead of, “how do we transform our city?.” 2 Samuel 10:12 encourages us, “to fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God.” Paul writes letters to the Church in cities, not a specific church–but the Church. Jesus sends out 72 to focus on towns and cities.

Cities matter to God!

As leaders, we have to be intentional and unite on mission. City transformation requires us to shift our focus to impact our cities–which are becoming younger, urban and more ethnic. We have to plant churches that reflect our city’s culture and needs. We need better strategies to plant churches and missional communities that actually reach people and transform geographics.  The only way we will see cities transformed is when the Church is mobilized and multiplied to impact every man, woman and child that call our cities home. Only churches that think this way will grow and have future impact.

In this Forum focusing on City Movements, you’ll gather with other urban + city movement leaders to learn together and share stories, insights and best practices for creating and leading a culture of city movement. We believe you’ll be inspired and challenged, and will come away with a bigger picture of your city and equipped to either launch a collaborative movement in your city or continue to build on what you’ve already started.

Key tensions we’ll be exploring:

  • What’s unique about a city-centric approach? We’ll look at the models and strategy for city-centric movements, and why clarity is critical to accomplish your objectives and goals. Your focus will determine your strategy and impact in your city and geography.
  • What does true Kingdom collaboration look like? How do we connect across denominational and network lines? We’ll explore the difference between networks, partnership and collaboration AND ask the hard questions to understand how they all work together in a Kingdom framework.
  • How do we build intentionally for diversity? What do we need to know about fostering churches and movements that mirror the people in our cities and engages their unique dreams and needs? And why it matters.
  • How do you lead a movement that is financially sustainable? We want to get honest about the need to find strategies and new models that aren’t dollar-driven but rather disciples-driven. We’ll look for, and at, different models of sustainability.
  • What are the essentials and non-negotiables for a real city movement and multiplication? Let’s make sure we understand the keys to launching and building a city movement that thrives. How do we develop ecosystems that last and strategies where real city transformation happens? We want to come away understanding–or asking questions to discover–the “3rd dimension” of our city.

Come hear from practitioners and experts who are facing and navigating these key tensions–leaders who are catalyzing movements and seeing results. These leaders are passionate, their fervor contagious. We want every participant to leave with new and renewed passion as they fight for their cities.

Register at http://www.exponential.org/forums-city-movements/

Monday, October 6, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. through

Tuesday, October 7, 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

Saddleback Church Campus

Your Church Can Plant Churches

I was at our LAUNCH Las Vegas Hub recently where we assessed 12 new church planting couples.  While there I had the opportunity to sit down with Vance Pitman, Pastor at Hope Church and ask him how LAUNCH has helped Hope Church in their reproduction efforts.  Check out this short video interview.

Want more info on how LAUNCH can help your church become a reproducing church email info@launchstrong.com.

Ministry Is Stinking Up My Marriage

Do you ever feel like ministry is having an adverse effect on your marriage?  While it’s easy to blame, the truth is, ministry isn’t responsible for anyone having a bad marriage.  God doesn’t call us to lead in His church to the detriment of our marriage.  But I’ve watched many men sacrifice their marriage on the alter of ministry.  And when we do it’s a clear indication that ministry is no longer a calling it’s an idol. Continue reading “Ministry Is Stinking Up My Marriage”

Don’t Leave Out These Essential Elements of a Vision Cast

Getting an opportunity to cast a God-given vision is a weighty privilege. Having spent time with God, you’ve heard the heart of God and are called to lead toward a preferred future for your church, organization or community.  Before you even speak your first word your audience’s mind is like a canvas. The words you speak can paint a picture of a new reality, move people to action, enthuse commitment and even drive them to make personal sacrifice for the cause.  Continue reading “Don’t Leave Out These Essential Elements of a Vision Cast”

Are We Addicted to Addition?

The addiction to addition can be one of the greatest factors that limit a church’s expanding influence in the community and world. I’ve been reading from Acts lately and it’s challenging me to have a greater mindset for multiplication. One of the things we always marvel at when reading the story of the early church is the rapid addition of more and more people to the church. Consider these passages from Acts 2-19,

  • “and that day 3000 were added to their number”
  • “the Lord added to their number daily”
  • “and believers were increasingly being added to their numbers”
  • “the number of disciples grew greatly in Jerusalem”
  • “They increased in number daily.”

There’s no doubt it’s exciting to be a part of a growing environment. We love it when our small group spills over from the living room into the dining room. It’s thrilling to see the ushers putting out more seats in the auditorium because so many people have arrived for the 11:00 service. We celebrate when our church-wide serve event has 51% of attendees showing up and using their gifts. These are all good things and good signs of addition.

But when you look underneath the surface of Luke’s record of the early church it’s not a book about addition, it’s the story of multiplication.  The disciples could’ve easily become addicted to the rapid addition to their numbers in Jerusalem. They could’ve settled in and made plans for bigger buildings, more seats and increased capacity.  These are all good things. But the disciple’s obsession was not with addition, they recognized it was a movement that called for multiplication. The early church leaders begin to move the Gospel out, reproduce leaders and start a multiplication movement.  Somehow, as tempting as it must’ve been, they avoided the allure of addition.

What are the signs we’ve become addicted to addition?

  • We’re more concerned with expanding seating capacity rather than sending capacity.
  • We’re more concerned with how many people are in groups rather than how many people are leading and multiplying groups.
  • We’re more concerned about how many show up to serve together at one time rather than how many we can empower to serve 24/7
  • We’re more concerned about how many people are “following me” rather than how many people are “leaving me” to go to lead a movement of their own
  • We’re concerned only about our community or our sphere of influence rather than the world and the nations.

One of the biggest temptations in a rapid growing environment is to become addicted to addition. Don’t get me wrong addition is good. But multiplication is better.