Do You Really Need to Give That Vision Sermon, Pastor?

Do you really need to give that vision sermon, pastor? Maybe not. Here’s why.

For many years, I was a confessed “leadershipaholic.” With a desire to be as effective and influential as possible for Christ, I devoured all the latest and greatest expertise from Christian and non-Christian gurus. Naturally, I hoped to be more respected, productive, and validated as a “leader.”

I was also a “visionaholic,” working hard to borrow all the best ideas from other successful ministries so I could inspire the congregation with the bigger and better ideas the Lord had “laid on my heart” in order for our church to continue to grow our numbers and expand our impact. Common wisdom stated that the bigger the dream, the clearer the path, and the more long-term the plans – the better the leader.

Uncertain Assumptions

Over time, my assumptions about vision and leadership began to disintegrate. In spite of the cultural love affair with these concepts, usually viewed as essential for ecclesiastical success, I felt significant unrest as I read my Bible. (The Bible has a way of dismantling our pre-conceived notions.) I finally had to admit that the Bible has very little explicit teaching on the Western ideas of “leadership” and “vision” with which we are so fascinated.

Leadership and Vision in the Bible

I recently did a search of the word “leadership” in the NKJV, ESV, NASB, and NIV versions of the Bible. The word appears in Exodus 33:1, referring once to the leadership of Aaron and Moses. It appears in a prophecy in Psalm 109:8 (NIV only), referring to the replacement of Judas, and is then quoted in Acts 1:20 as they actually replaced the defected disciple. Only the NIV mentions it again in Romans 12:8, within a list of six other spiritual gifts, where it says, “…if it is leadership, let him govern diligently.” Similar discoveries occur when you search for “leader” and “lead”. It is mentioned incidentally (particularly in the Old Testament) and rarely in the New Testament. The Bible is virtually silent on our modern-day notions of Type-A, high-powered, skill-based influence.

Over the years, I often felt compelled to give a vision sermon. This word is referred to, largely in the Old Testament and Acts, as an actual unannounced, unanticipated, supernatural revelation from God or one of His angels. The word never occurs in any teaching passage in the Epistles. Still, for a vision sermon we work hard to script a motivational long-term picture of where the church needs to go, typically using some verses out of context to do so. Seldom is it supernatural. Rarely is it the result of extraordinary corporate prayer and fasting. Typically, it is the product of borrowed ideas from other “successful” leaders and is prompted by pressure from other type-A congregants who are imposing a business model on the dynamic life of the church of Jesus Christ.

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Source: Church Leaders