The first step in church growth is vision. Vision is the ability to see things that are not yet.
In the book, The Purpose Driven Church Rick Warren tells the story of how he started Saddleback Valley Community Church in Mission Viejo, California, In 1980 Warren began walking through the streets of Orange County. He visualized the type of ministry that would be necessary to reach the residence of the community. He began to visualize a very specific church. He saw 25,000 members. He imagined a church with a worship style and programs to reach the typical unchurched person in his area. Warren called this unchurched person "Saddleback Sam". He never let go of the vision. He reiterated it to other clergy and to his core membership. He taught it at the new membership class and preached it from the pulpit. Today the church averages 5,000 in worship and is one of the fastest-growing churches in the nation.
True vision grabs hold of us and leads us into a new reality.
Two Steps to Achieving Vision
Two steps to achieving vision are prayer and exposure to need or opportunity.
Elisha's prayer was "Oh Lord open my eyes so I may see." That is a dangerous but exciting prayer. It is dangerous because it will result in our seeing thinks that no one else sees. Exciting because it will lead us into new worlds.
Prayer is a crucial element in visionary ministry. Through the direction of the Holy Spirit we will see the possibilities and have courage to follow our vision.
The second step in ascertaining vision is exposure to need. Christ calls us to minister to the physical needs of hurting people as well as to their spiritual needs. Jesus died for the people we take for granted. By studying thepeople around us we can began to see them as individuals with hopes, dreams, fears, and joy. Christ's ministry was partly defined by his compassion for the lost sheep.
Matthew 9:36-37 reports, "When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, 'The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.'"
Do you want to grow your church? Then walk the streets of your community. See its people. Talk with them. Ask them about their needs. Then pray that our Lord will open your eyes to see the type of ministry that he would have you lead.
We must listen to those we want to reach. Three components of the listening process are: