Every classis has a vision or at least expectations about what a classis is all about. What does a common vision do?
- It unifies the group and defuses conflict.
- It helps everyone remember why we’re doing what we’re doing.
- It energizes the group to do its task better.
- It can stick to its purpose instead of being diverted into other directions.
- It gives the group identify and self-esteem.
- It lends itself to a reputation for being the group that has its act together; it learns to do what it does well because it has a focus.
- It helps in recruiting resources.
- It helps discern what resources are needed to meet the vision of the group.
- It clearly states its expectations of its members.
- It helps group members know what they are to do and what they are responsible for.
- It gives direction.
- It holds the activities of the group accountable to its vision.
Developing a Vision
Below is a brief outline of the process.
- Ask God to prepare your heart and open your eyes on this journey.
- Gather a team that represents the major interest groups and key leaders in your classis and secure classis approval for its mandate.
- Begin by understanding the context of your classis and community including its history and present composition, the growth/decline of your classis and the demographics of your community.
- Do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) of your classis, its meetings, structures, ministries, and its congregations.
- Share these findings with your classis and spend 45 minutes in small groups at the next classis meeting doing an APA (achieve, preserve, avoid) exercise to gather their input into your findings.
- Use your work to discern and write the core values of your classis.
- Based on these values, create a mission statement.
- Get ownership for these values and mission statement from the classis.
- Use the mission statement to write a vision statement.
- Evaluate and get ownership for the vision from the classis.
- Use the values, mission and vision to describe strategies for implementation.
- After classis approval of strategies, transfer implementation to a vision implementation team.
What is a vision?
A vision has five parts:
- Core values
- Purpose statement
- Vision Statement
Core Ministry Values: The spoken or unspoken assumptions that guide a group’s actions. The group’s priorities that are an essential part of its identity. What the group values. Sometimes called the genetic code or DNA of a group. Usually a list of six to ten statements.
Purpose Statement: A statement (Not more that a few sentences, preferably just one) that says why the group exists. It states the “business” you’re in. This is specific, rather than general. Keep asking, “Why do we do this?” Each group’s purpose is distinctive. (It doesn’t work to just copy someone else’s!)
Vision Statement: Given these core values and purpose, what do we hope, believe, and pray God will do with us and through us? The answer is your vision. The answer should be concrete, specific, stretch and inspire you. It should paint a picture of what you would like to see in the future and should motivate you to undertake the work of the group. It should project anywhere from 3 to 10 years in the future. See the resource: Evaluating Your Vision Statement.(Insert link)
Strategy/Goals: Strategy describes how you will get to where you want to be. A good strategy is needed to accomplish the mission and vision of a classis. It facilitates understanding of its purpose, provides movement towards the accomplishment of its vision, and matches resources to opportunities.
Each strategy essentially asks three questions:
- What are we supposed to be doing?
- Are we doing it?
- If not, why not?
After describing the strategic goals, each goal should be further broken down into action steps—how and by whom the goals will be met. These goals should be tied to a time line of implementation.
Implementation: Implementation is a process of taking the strategic goals, placing them in priority, assigning their accomplishment to the responsible parties, communicating those goals to the classis and evaluating their progress.
An implementation team is a good method for carrying out the strategic plan of a classis; without an implementation plan, a classis’ vision will languish.
An implementation team can also be equipped to handle contingencies in the plan, making adaptations quickly and thoughtfully. Evaluation of how the classis is meeting its goals is a key focus of the implementation process.
Review of the entire vision process should be initiated by the implementation team after a period of several years. If the vision has been accomplished, it is time to reengage in a new vision.