Communicating the Vision for Missional Communities

October 16, 2013 — Leave a comment

The Austin Stone didn’t begin as a church committed to missional communities.  Through several years, we have transitioned our church from a traditional community/small group model to our current model of missional communities.  This series of posts will help you understand how we made that transition over time:

Much of this framework is adapted from John Kotter’s model for leading organizational change.  I pray this series will help many of you that are leading churches through a season of transition!

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Communicating the Vision for Missional Communities

After working hard to craft a vision for missional communities, you’ve got to start thinking about how you’re going to communicate it well to people.  Hopefully you’ve gotten some practice as you’ve cast vision to your strategic team, and now you are thinking about communicating the vision more broadly.  In my experience, communication consists of three things:

  • The message
  • The medium
  • The audience

We covered most of the “message” component in the crafting a vision post, so I’ll spend most of my time focusing on the medium and the audience in this post.

What you do with your vision after you create it will determine your success in the transition.  You can create the most compelling vision and the most airtight strategic plan, but they remain ideas until you actually communicate them to other people.

Communicate to Leaders

Your first audience ought to be leaders within your church.  Make sure you communicate a vision to leadership before you roll it out to a broader audience!  It’s crucial for long term success that your current leaders have a sense of ownership and buy-in to the vision.

The vision you are communicating will probably have competition from other communications within your church as well.  Communicate the vision frequently and powerfully, and embed it within everything you do with leaders for a season.  Also, consider a time with leaders when you can have their undivided attention. There are often “slow” seasons in the overall life of the church – make use of them!  Whenever you have a captive audience or a free communication channel, use it.  Focus on repetitive messaging, rather than only communicating to the largest possible audience.

Finally, don’t solely do a “vision meeting” or something of the sort to communicate your vision. Instead, talk about it every chance you get. Use the vision daily to make decisions and solve problems. When you keep it fresh on everyone’s minds, they’ll remember it and respond to it.  The single greatest reason change fails is that vision isn’t communicated repeatedly over time!

When considering mediums to utilize, I would aim for in person communication to groups of leaders, and specifically doing it in a way that invites feedback and questions.  Without your leaders having a way to contribute to the vision, it will be very difficult for them to have a sense of ownership of it.

Communicate to the Church

After you’ve communicated the vision to your leaders, now it’s time to start communicating to the entire church community.  With respect to mediums, you should use whatever you have at your disposal.  Particularly, you will want to consider:

  • Preaching the vision from the pulpit
  • Communicating the vision through live testimonies or short films
  • Cultivating the vision through small group curriculum
  • Creating written resources to share with your community
  • Focusing all informational communication around the vision
  • Utilizing all ministries leadership channels to communicate the vision contextually to other ministries
When it comes to the message of the vision, communicate a strategically simple message, but do it in a variety of different ways.  Simply because everyone can articulate the same core values does not mean the vision has taken hold.  Communicating the vision creatively with different hooks, different applications, and different illustrations will provide insight for a variety of people into what you’re trying to accomplish.

Running a Campaign or Alignment Series

Perhaps the most effective strategy for communicating your vision to your church is a church-wide campaign or an alignment series.  The basic idea is utilizing every channel of communication and every place people are gathered for ministry over a prolonged season to communicate the same message – from children’s ministry all the way to the pulpit.  These kinds of series take an extraordinary amount of planning to execute, and clarity in everything we have addressed in this series so far.

Below is the basic communication plan for our most recent campaign to redefine missional community and launch a significant number of new missional communities at The Austin Stone:

Campaign

As you can see, we spent 5 months communicating the vision in different ways to different groups of people, and this was only to reinforce an existing vision!

Conclusion

I probably can’t do justice to the entire process of communicating a vision to the various groups of people inside your church, but here are a few things to takeaway if you’re considering a transition:

  • Talk often about your vision
  • Openly and honestly address peoples’ concerns and anxieties
  • Apply your vision to all aspects of your church
  • Lead by example and live out the vision you want to see

If you’d like more information on a campaign strategy, contact me and I can send you details on how we approach campaigns.  Also, my friend Mark Howell has written extensively on effective campaigns here.

Todd Engstrom

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Although I was raised in the church and had a knowledge of God, I didn’t embrace Jesus until I heard gospel preached and lived out by some Young Life leaders. God has proven faithful and good to me since that day, even in great suffering and loss. I have learned to treasure Romans 8:28 as a wellspring of hope and truth. God has blessed me with an amazing wife (Olivia), three sons (Micah, Hudson and Owen) and a daughter (Emmaline). Growing up in the northwest, the thought never crossed my mind that I would have four children who are native Texans. Despite landing in the south, I still watch Notre Dame games with my children every Saturday in hopes they will land at my alma mater.

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