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One of the trickiest things we’ve been going through as a group of leaders in our church has been visioning for our youth program. It was early September and I had this strong urge from God insisting us to look at our program. So, we began that painful process of looking through all the strengths and weaknesses of our program, dissecting its very origins, and transplanting ourselves into a hope, goal, and vision for the future. In beginning that process (if you have or are considered it), you must reach out! Send out emails to someone you don’t know, you’d be amazed at what you’d be able to come up with. I sent emails to three people who I had never met, and they turned up incredible resources for myself and our church. 

The trick: the hard part is yet to come. 

Part of what we’ve begun through this process is to identify and articulate our program. If you’re a youth pastor seeking to go through this process, one of the things I quickly learned was the importance of articulation. In fact, articulation of our program was probably the very thing that stuck out most — no one had a really solid understanding of what we were up to. Fundraising happened, but why? And what are we doing with the money we raise? And why in the world would we stick 10% of that money aside to give it right back away (tithing)? Friday night’s event was so much fun, what more was there to talk about? Is church really the best location to hold that event? And Bible study? Oh, our youth pastor does that…

The trick: the hard part is yet to come. 

Once you’ve articulated your program, the creative process can invite itself into the fold. One of those people I reached to (referenced above) gave me some great advice about the creative process: give specifics about your idea, place a time frame on it, and try it fearlessly for that period. Essentially, if you’d like to change the approach to a program (be it timing or material), present your idea clearly and offer a trial period with an evaluation that offers conclusion: do we press on with this idea? That trial period offers a safe place to try something new without the pressure to sustain something that might be uncomfortable for others.

The trick: the hard part is yet to come. 

When trying something new, we must always remember that for many people, seeing is believing. My brother loves building things with lumber and is a visionary who can actually picture something (in his mind) before it’s actually built. But many others simply see a pile of wood ... until it’s finally completed. Then it becomes, “Ooooohhh! That’s what you meant!” and they pay him for his work. Vision casting is much of the same, people may not see what you see. But, encouraging them means more than helping them see it. It means: don’t give up on the future, no one but God knows what it holds; don’t find contentment in doing something good, raise the bar to seek something better; don’t giving up on what’s yet to come, something will happen which you didn’t see. Once you’ve casted direction, you must continue to look forward.

The trick: the hard part is yet to come. 

On Sunday, a visiting pastor made this statement: “Listening is not hearing.” God will always be speaking into our work, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ll be hearing what he’s saying. Hearing is the hardest part yet to come. And seeing is believing what we’ve heard. So don’t give up, friends. In fact, run forward fearlessly. 

If you’re trying to envision your future, you will never resolve to a certain conclusion, because God never stops creating. And for that, the hard part is always yet to come.

  • What are your experiences of visioning?
  • Do you have other helpful recommendations to contribute to the visioning conversation?

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