Casting vision; this is something that we in church leadership sometimes leave to the Senior Pastor. “I’ll just let him cast the vision and I will follow it.” Or we may tell ourselves, “He’s the pastor, casting vision is part of what God called him to do.” While there is some truth in this, it does not let us off the hook. Ephesians 4:11 says,“It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be lead pastors who will cast vision for the church and some to be children’s pastors who will plan children’s activities and, using flanelgraph, tell the stories of the bible, and some to be youth pastors who will play paint ball and loud music and occasionally give a bible lesson.” This, of course, is not what Ephesians 4:11 says. Paul did not single out lead pastors. He was talking to all of those called to be pastors. Now if you do not carry the title of “children’s pastor” don’t tune out; this article is still for you.
Casting vision; what does that mean? Is it really the job of the lead pastor? Well, I do fully believe that it is the job of the lead pastor to cast the overall vision of the church, and that the leaders of the ministries within the church need to focus hard on following that vision. However, I also believe that we need to have a vision for the individual ministries within the church. Whether you are a children’s pastor or leading the children’s ministry in another capacity, then you have some responsibility for casting vision.
Ok, but how do I develop a vision? If you are asking this question, I would be willing to bet you already have a vision and don’t even know it. As the children’s pastor I would bet that you have spent some time thinking about how you wish your children’s ministry could look, or the types of things that you wish you could do in your children’s ministry. Well, that is your vision, or at least the beginning of it.
Before we look too closely at how to develop your vision, let’s talk about what the vision is. Your vision communicates the scope and magnitude of where you want to take your children’s ministry. Think about Jesus. He made a couple statements that helped the disciples understand the scope and magnitude of what we was sending them out to do. In Matthew 28:19-20 Jesus says, “Therefore go and makes disciples of all nations…teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.” In Acts 1:8 He says, “…you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” In these two statements Jesus was giving the disciples a vision for how big what he was asking them to do was. Notice that these statements give very little in the way of details. In neither of these statements does Jesus go on to say, “and this is how I want you to do it.” The vision is not really for the purpose of telling how, but rather what.
Developing a vision for your ministry is kinda like planning a vacation. We will look at the process of planning a vacation and how this relates to developing a vision for your children’s ministry.
Question 1: Where do I want to go?
You would not plan a vacation by saying, “Ok, I need to be sure to pack an extra pair of underwear. Then I will need to load the car. Next I will drive down my road and turn left, followed by a right at the first red light.” No, you would start with, “I want to visit Washington, DC.” The same is true for your children’s ministry vision. People will not follow you if you can not clearly communicate where you are going. This might start out as simply as, “I am going to use my Vision Castinator to build the best children’s ministry in the tri-state area.” (If you are not familiar with Phenias and Ferb, then you probably won’t get that, sorry.) However, it can’t end there. If someone asked us what we were doing on our vacation and we only told them we were going to Washington, DC they would probably be left wondering what we planned to do when we got there. So, while we can start by simply saying where we want to go, if we want people to get excited about this vision, we need to give them more.
Question 2: What will it look like when I get there?
Once you know where you are going, then you need to have some idea of what your stay there is going to be like. What kind of hotel are you going to stay in? Where would you like that hotel to be located? What types of features are important for you in this hotel? What will the overall feel for the vacation be? Are you looking to relax, or is adventure your aim? Are you looking to see the sites, or just experience the culture? This is where we begin to give the details about what we think our children’s ministry will look like. This could include details about the types of programs that will be included. At this point we are not talking about specific programs or events, just the types of programs that will be included. For instance, maybe you feel strongly about a process for connecting with parents and partnering with them in the spiritual development of their children. If so, that needs to be included in your vision.
Question 3: What things are a must when I get there?
What things are MUST DO on this vacation? Going back to the Washington, DC trip, maybe the musts are a trip to the Washington Memorial and the Smithsonian. The bottom line is they are things that must be included in your stay. Likewise this is where you will talk about specifics that must be included in your children’s ministry vision. This can be specific programs or elements. For instance if you think that Awana is necessary for your children’s ministry to be what you envision, then include that in the answer to this question.
I understand that these questions do not tell you everything that you need to know to prepare your vision. Much more important than these questions is what God has planned for your ministry. So, the very first step is to pray and spend some time in the word. This will help you determine what it is that God has planned. If you skip this step, then you are building your ministry on sand and we all know how that story ends. Remember not to bog your vision down with a lot of details. Most details are not necessary to the vision and they can trap you as you move towards it. I do understand that some details are important enough to include in your vision, but most are not. Next, remember that you are not alone. Talk to your pastor or other members of the church staff. Talk to your Christian friends and family. Talk to the people that work in your ministry. Talk to parents, both those with kids in your ministry and those with kids that are older. Seek out resources on the internet. Ask other children’s pastors/workers. Remember that God has called you to lead. In order to do that you need to be able to tell people where you are going. You may be able to build a good children’s ministry and never give any thought to vision. But I promise you that without a vision it will never be what it could have been with a vision. The final thing is this; make sure that your vision lines up with that of the lead pastor. God has called him to lead the church so our vision for children’s ministry must fit within the vision that God has given him for the church. If you try to take the children’s ministry in a direction that does not line up with that pastors vision, then it will not turn out well in the end.