by Patrick Hall, Cross Fellowship – Black Forest, CO
What does it take to sustain a visionary effort?
Let me suggest four principles: clarity of purpose, know the desired outcome, focus on what affects the results, and harness the power of momentum. I believe that every pastor and church leader within our state desires deeply to do something great for God and in today’s culture it is all too easy to get distracted from what matters most. We are so easily pulled into the daily news cycle, or the countless secondary issues the culture uses to occupy our energy and efforts; distracting us from what we are designed to do. We exist to live on mission to reach the people in the state of Colorado with the gospel. In times like these it has never been more important to stay focused on the vision of Jesus, and of Paul, to reach our Jerusalem here in Colorado.
But how do we do this?
1. Have a clarity of purpose
Jesus left no doubt for us what his visionary purpose was in Luke 19:10 when he said, “For the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost.” There has never been more competing ideas on what we should be about than there is today. The reality is, in this current environment we have a tendency to drift away from what was Jesus’ primary purpose. It is no surprise that Jesus gives this same primary purpose to the church in Acts 1:8, “You shall be my witnesses.” In times like these, we must make sure we have crystal clear clarity on our purpose.
2. Know the desired outcome
What is a successful outcome? Church planting, multisite expansion, community outreach or social programs. Within the church there are many good activities, good programs, and good intentions, but does that match the visionary purpose of Jesus and the vision God has given your church? The key is to focus on what matters and to have the courage to lay aside good things for the greater visionary purpose. Jesus knew what he came to do and he never wavered on the outcome he was seeking to create. That outcome was a movement that created disciples. In John 15:16 he said, “I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit.” He made clear the outcome and that he desires the same from us. We must not lose sight of this purpose in the forest of never-ending distractions.
“but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead I press on toward the goal.\” —Philippians 3:13-14
3. Focus on what affects results
How often do we focus on the wrong measures of effectiveness? Many times, we are enamored by what we are trying to produce, and we never talk about what the activities are that produce the results. Was there a more focused person on results than the Apostle Paul? In Philippians 3:13-14 he said, “but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead I press on toward the goal.” Paul is demonstrating for us the power of focus. He was focused like a laser on what was most important knowing the results would happen. Within these words is a call to focus on what matters, but also to acknowledge that we have a propensity to move to that which can distract from a vision. What is your one thing that deserves laser focus to accomplish what God has called your church to do?
4. Harness the power of momentum
The cumulative power of a sustained effort, in a focused direction, creates momentum that becomes a visionary movement. To sustain a visionary movement over the long term, we must do everything possible to not remove the energy of momentum from our efforts. When starting a freight train, it takes the combined effort of multiple 4000 horsepower locomotives, but once it is going it becomes an unstoppable force of momentum that can blow through anything in its path. Hebrews 12:1 says to “lay aside every encumbrance… and let us run with endurance the race set before us.” Purposely identify that which will remove momentum. Here are some suggestions: avoid large vision shifts, be cautious to start over from scratch, continue the good work of those that have come before you, and do not stop moving forward.
God promises in Ephesians 3:20 that he is “able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think.” I know if we apply these principles, we can cooperate with him to bring about his kingdom vision in Colorado.