• Pastor Dan

Remember the TV show, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition? Each episode featured a family that had faced some hardship in life and was in need of renewed hope. The show’s producers coordinated with a local contractor who, in turn, coordinated with several other companies in various building trades for a complete makeover of the family’s home. This included interior and exterior remodeling, landscaping, and furnishings. All the work was done in seven days while the family went on a paid vacation. When they returned from their vacation, Ty Pennington revealed their new home to them, complete with unique surprises custom designed specifically for the family.

The designers of these custom-built Extreme Makeover homes were visionaries. They were able to look beyond the run-down interior and exterior of the home, beyond he overgrown yard and unkempt landscaping, beyond the chipped paint and torn wallpaper, beyond the junk and messiness, to see what the house could look like with a little creativity and hard work. They were able to envision in their mind’s eye what it could become.

Many churches today need an Extreme Makeover, too. They need a renewed vision. They need someone who can look beyond the tired and worn-out ministries, beyond the buildings and the grounds, beyond the traditional way of doing church, to see what could be.

In my study of turnaround churches, I found that vision and leadership go hand-in-hand. Lack of vision and inadequate leadership were the two leading causes of plateau and decline in churches. Likewise, new or renewed vision and new or renewed leadership were also the two leading incentives that led to church revitalization.

So, what is vision? Vision looks ahead. Vision is a clear image of what could be. To put it in a nutshell, vision is a God-given picture of a preferable future. Several implications arise from that definition. First, vision is God-given. Secondly vision is a picture – a visual image in one’s mind of the way things could be. Third, vision is futuristic. It does not dwell in the past. It does not settle for the status quo. Vision always focuses on the future.

I’d like to suggest seven “S-factors” of a compelling vision.

1. Scriptural – A compelling vision must be biblical. It must be rooted in the biblical purposes of the church. The church cannot take its clues from the corporate world. We must be biblical. Jesus promised to build His church; He will also rebuild His church.

2. Strategic – There are two key factors of vision: purpose and strategy. Purpose answers the what and strategy answers the how of vision. Renewed vision clarifies both what God has called a church to accomplish and how it is going to do so in its unique setting. Together, purpose and strategy comprise a church’s vision; but strategy is what makes each church unique.

3. Singular - Many churches pride themselves on offering a vast array of programs. They boast that they have something for everyone. Unfortunately, the plethora of programs often leads to confusion of direction and lack of a unified purpose. A compelling vision offers singularity rather than multiplicity, one vision rather than multiple visions, and unity rather than diversity, which often leads to divisiveness.

4. Sequential – A compelling vision is both strategic and sequential. It employs movement or sequential steps toward greater commitment and maturity. Sequential movement keeps people growing as they move from one level of commitment to the next. Sequence translates vision into a process for growth.

5. Systemic – The word, systemic, simply means “system-wide.” With reference to a church, systemic means “church-wide.” A compelling vision must be shared and implemented throughout the entire church. This implies that all staff and all ministries of the church utilize the same overarching vision and process of growth. Without a systemic vision, the church quickly degenerates into a disjointed array of subgroups and mini-churches rather than standing as a unified body. Systemic vision assures that the church is united and moving forward together.

6. Shared – Vision must be shared and communicated with others. A leader cannot implement vision in a vacuum. He needs everyone on-board, starting with the staff and leadership, then spreading to the entire congregation. Vision can be communicated in many ways – through slogans, symbols, soundbites, and stories (testimonies, interviews, an video clips). Compelling vision must be communicated clearly and continually.

7. Simple – There has been much discussion and debate on the difference between vision, mission, purpose, and values. Some churches have written multiple and lengthy statements on each. But when it comes to vision, I suggest the acronym, KISSKeep it short and simple.

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  • Pastor Dan

“Do you have eyes but fail to see, and ears but fail to hear?”

(Mark 8:18)

When I was younger, I used to brag about how good my eyesight was. I could read signs on the road from long distances. I had perfect 20/20 vision.

But about the time I turned 40 my vision started going downhill. I began to notice that the words on pages of books were getting fuzzy. The closer I held the book, the fuzzier the words were. I started holding the book further away so I could see it clearly. But my arms got too short – well, they just weren’t long enough. So I purchased a pair of reading glasses. That helped for a while. I bought a stronger pair of reading glasses. But I had to take them off to see distances clearly. I didn’t like having to take glasses off & on all day.

I finally broke down and went to an optometrist (eye-doctor). The doctor prescribed a pair of bifocals with corrective lenses for close-up and plain glass for distance. Then I turned 50. I noticed that even my distant vision was getting blurry. Now I have bifocals with corrective lenses for both distance and close-up vision. Unfortunately, the computer screen is right in-between the two – it’s still blurry. What’s next?

Just as we sometimes struggle with physical vision, I believe God’s children often struggle with spiritual vision. We can become spiritually nearsighted as we focus on the physical and temporal things of this world. Or we can become spiritually farsighted as we worry about circumstances and the future. Sometimes we need to adjust our focus so we can regain 20/20 spiritual vision. Here are a few suggestions on how to improve your spiritual vision…

  • Stop focusing on rules and regulation. Refocus on your relationship with God.

  • Stop focusing on physical things. Refocus on spiritual matters.

  • Stop focusing on the temporal treasures. Refocus on eternal values.

  • Stop focusing on circumstances. Refocus on God’s blessings.

  • Stop focusing on self. Refocus on Jesus.

How is your spiritual vision? Is it 20/20?

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  • Pastor Dan

To borrow a title of an old TV series, many churches today are in need of an "Extreme Makeover." But is a church makeover biblical? Is turnaround just a popular concept borrowed from the corporate world, or is there a scriptural mandate for turnaround and revitalization?

While the specific term, turnaround, is not found in Scripture, the turnaround concept is certainly prevalent throughout the Bible. Biblical writer spoke of repentance rather than turnaround. The Hebrew word for repentance used in the Old Testament is shuv. While there are many nuances, its basic meaning is "to turn" or "to return." One of the key biblical passages regarding repentance and revival is found in II Chronicles...

  • "If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn (shuv) from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land." (II Chronicles 7:14)

While this passage is written to the entire nation of Israel; by application, the same principles of repentance and restoration also apply to individuals and churches today.

A brief survey of biblical history clearly demonstrates the concept of turnaround.

Judges - There is a repeated cycle in Israel's history of rebellion, repression (by foreign nation), repentance, rescue (by a judge) and restoration. When God's people repented, God raised up turnaround leaders or judges to lead Israel to victory again. What a remarkable picture of turnaround ministry in the church, as well.

The Prophets - Even after the period of the judges, Israel continued to rebel against God. The common cry of the Old Testament prophets was one of repentance (turn back to God).

The New Testament - John the Baptist preached repentance in anticipation of the coming Messiah. Jesus proclaimed that He came to "call sinners to repentance." Peter preached repentance on the day of Pentecost. In the New Testament, repentance is not just an external about-face; it is an internal heart matter.

Revelation - Although each of the seven churches in Revelation 2-3 is different, with its own unique context and circumstances, a common theme runs throughout. Jesus calls each church to repent or turnaround so they can experience spiritual renewal or revitalization.

Is turnaround biblical? Absolutely. In fact, two of the most popular stories in the Bible are turnaround stories - the story of Jonah in the Old Testament and the Parable of the Prodigal Son in the New Testament.

Turnaround is not only a biblical concept; it is a biblical mandate.

  • Adapted from Chapter 4 of "Revitalize Your Church" (Biblical Foundations)

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