Have you ever been confused by the terms mission, vision, strategy, and values?

Join the club.

In the first post in this series, I introduced this topic and wrote about Mission. In this post, we'll talk about Vision. Many leaders are understandably confused between mission, vision, strategy, and values. In my opinion, the term vision is where most of the confusion resides.


The word vision is used in many different contexts to mean many different things. I like Andy Stanley's definition of vision, which says:

“A clear mental picture of what could be, fueled by the conviction that it should be.” – Andy Stanley

Sometimes we make it more complex than it needs to be. Vision is simply a description of a preferred outcome. A vision for a ministry is what you hope to see it become in the future. A vision for a specific volunteer role is how you would describe that role if executed perfectly.

What question does vision answer?

Vision answers the question – Where are we headed?

Mission defines our purpose, as in why we exist. Vision describes where we are headed. Think about that desired outcome and describe it. The vision of our church was established before our church began over 10 years ago. The vision was to reach people who are not a part of any church. We picture a preferred future where a new church would exist that was reaching people who had no church affiliation.

In the road trip analogy, vision is a destination on the trip

Notice I said vision is “a” destination, not necessarily “the” destination. In the case of our church, our vision is still the same. However, we have had other visions that marked destinations on the journey. We had a vision of launching a generosity initiative and raising a specific amount of money about 5 years ago. A couple years after that, we had a vision of opening a new building to reach more people who were not a part of any church.

Those are examples of how your vision can change or adapt over time. Mission always stays the same, but your vision can change as you grow and make progress.

What should a vision statement look like?

Our vision statements should be brief just like mission statements (6-12 words). A good vision statement indicates a problem, provides a solution, and implies urgency. Here are some examples of visions that churches have:

  • Start churches unchurched people would love to attend
  • Reach 100,000 people in South Carolina for Jesus
  • Plant 20 churches by the year 2020

Andy Stanley's book, Making Vision Stick, is a must-read to help you clarify your vision.

How does this relate to Family Ministry?

I think it's helpful for us to have a clear vision in our family ministries. We can lean on whatever church-wide vision we have, but it's helpful to define a vision statement for each ministry and each volunteer role. With volunteer roles, we call them wins, something else we learned from Andy Stanley and North Point.

In our family ministry this year we rolled out a vision to see a specific number of kids and students in small group. It's about twice as many as we have now and we didn't put a deadline on it. We'll continue to hold that up and rally people around it until we hit the mark.

Then, we'll cast a new vision.

Action Step

Determine whether or not your church has a clear vision for where it is headed. If it doesn't exist or isn't clear, start having conversations about how to clarify that. If it does exist, take steps to make sure your ministry environments and volunteer roles all have clear visions so people know what you hope to see.

What questions do you have about vision?