“Attempting to lead the people of God without discerning a vision bestowed from Him is like playing a dangerous game. Such actions are not pleasing to God or satisfying His people.”
During a recent interview with the Christian Times, an online Christian newspaper in China, Pastor Wu Minsong (pseudonym), residing in Eastern China, expounded upon how churches should direct their attention towards establishing and fulfilling visions. He examined this topic from five different aspects, delving deep into his insights and opinions.
Firstly, Pastor Wu elaborated on what he believed visions to encompass. "Visions should not be based solely on the desires and aspirations of men, but rather on the blessings and promises of God. Furthermore, pastors leading the church ought to have the ability to differentiate between visions in the broad sense and those termed as narrow-sense visions. 'Broad-sense vision' refers to the overarching direction for the church's overall development, whereas 'narrow-sense vision' pertains to the desires or burdens an individual carries for specific issues. For instance, upon witnessing children suffer from starvation, a Christian may develop a burden in their heart, considering it to be their vision. God bestows a 'broad-sense vision' to the entire church, while a 'narrow-sense vision' is limited to specific individuals. Thus, it is inappropriate to impose one's 'narrow-sense vision' onto others."
"In the event that a church establishes a new vision that is not feasible or realistic, it will lead to dispiritedness and discouragement amongst its members who will eventually become unable to sense the guidance of God over time. Furthermore, such a vision's origin might be questionable, revealing that it has not been disclosed by God. It is therefore imperative for churches to establish visions that are feasible. However, even when the vision is from God, lack of action, indifference or skepticism on the part of man may limit its accomplishment," Pastor Wu stated. He went on to elucidate that some of the "successful" visions may not necessarily be of divine nature but rather dreams developed by humans.
He explained that there exists a distinction between visions and dreams, where dreams stem from human passions and desires, while visions originate from the will and longing of God. If God provides a vision, a foreseeable launch strategy and circumstances that enable steady advancement will be prepared. As such, it will not be unrealistic or irrational based on the wishes of man. Pastor Wu stressed that it was pivotal to adhere to two guidelines when determining if a vision is of divine nature: firstly, it should glorify God, and secondly, it should benefit mankind. "The vision should glorify God on one hand, do good to others and, after its development, it should undergo an assessment to determine the best and worst-case scenarios. After the evaluation, the feasibility of the vision shall be established. Notwithstanding divine revelation given to the church, hard work, and dedication from the congregation shall contribute significantly to the flourishing of the vision."
Pastor Wu referenced a vision granted to Rev. Rick Warren by God many years ago, which called on him to initiate seven distinct ministries that would equip tens of thousands of disciples, establish various schools and gospel groups, create a large evangelical organization, and construct a church for 10,000 followers within a decade. At the time of receiving the vision, only 100 members attended Warren's church. Despite initial skepticism from believers, Warren persisted in sharing the vision with his congregation for two months until they developed unwavering faith in its realization. Pastor Warren subsequently led the entire congregation in fulfilling the vision with divine direction, ultimately accomplishing all seven ministries before the ten-year deadline.
Pastor Wu asserted that pastors must explicate their visions to the congregation accurately and persistently if they wish to see them realized. He said, "Pastors should initially have faith that their visions are divinely inspired so that their congregation can likewise possess such faith. Additionally, pastors ought to inspire the congregation to act on their newfound vision. Therefore, they will fully support the pastor, both in prayer and service. Indeed, visions are the driving force behind genuine service to God among Christian leaders. A vision is not merely a preference but an insight for leaders to serve rightly and be directed toward their calling. Both pastors and the congregation must not give up easily; instead, they should work together in perseverance until the vision is accomplished with divine guidance."
According to Wu's observation, there exist four common misconceptions regarding visions. "Firstly, individuals often regard visions as abstract notions, with only strategies being of substantial value. On the contrary, visions can be fairly practical and achievable. Secondly, people assume that visions represent the agreement of the congregation; however, visions are designed to propagate consensus. Thirdly, people hold the belief that pursuing visions is arduous and would place the church in a challenging position. However, the primary objective of visions is to provide a realistic estimation of the church's future, enabling it to act according to God's intention, which eventually protects the church from any form of jeopardy."
"Fourthly, there is a misconception that if the pastor possesses profound love for God and is committed to leading the church through teaching, preaching, prayers, setting examples, forgiving, and loving, in accordance with biblical teachings, the church would experience growth regardless of whether there is a vision or not. However, the truth is that fruitful and effective pastors must possess a vision. Consequently, it is essential for churches to continuously establish and achieve visions to become healthier and more influential," Pastor Wu concluded.
- Translated by Joyce Leung