Note: This article is excerpted from our training tool Develop a Group Strategy.
John Maxwell once said, "Everything rises and falls on leadership." While this may be a bit of an overstatement, one thing is for sure: an effective leader is necessary if anything of substance is going to be accomplished. But what drives an effective leader? What keeps a leader in the game when things get tough? What inspires a leader to give his or her life to a particular goal? Vision is what makes a leader great. In fact, visionless leaders aren't leaders at all—they're managers.
Managers supervise an efficient workforce through which the necessary work is completed in a timely and effective fashion. They make sure tasks are accomplished. Leaders, on the other hand, have the ability to obtain and retain followers by organizing, unifying, and directing them to accomplish a God-given vision.
Small-group ministry is full of point people who are managers. What today's church needs is small-group point people who are leaders, people who have a vision in mind and will organize and inspire people to join them in seeing that yet unrealized vision become a present reality. Effective leaders have a vision in their hearts that is inescapable.
But what exactly is vision? Vision is a mental image of the final outcome, a preferred future you long to see and believe will become a reality. Throughout history God has given people visions that guided their work and brought their hearts to life. Moses was given a vision by God and led God's people out of Egypt. Nehemiah had a vision to rebuild the Jerusalem wall. The apostles had a vision to build Jesus' church. Great and God-sized goals are determined and accomplished when leaders embrace a God-given vision.
The Results of Vision
How might having a clear, compelling, and God-sized vision affect your ministry? There are four amazing outcomes:
Find the Right Leaders
Vision is the most important tool you have for recruiting team members, coaches, and group leaders. Too many church leaders ask people to join their team because there's a need. People who step up do so out of benevolence, not necessarily because they believe in the small-group ministry. They'll lack passion for the goals of the ministry, and this apathy will soon spill over onto others.
Recruiting team members through vision makes it possible to retain people for the long haul. People who join the small-group ministry because they believe in the vision for the ministry are committed. They long to see the vision become a reality, so they're likely to stay on the team for years to come—even until the vision is realized.
Choose an Effective Strategy
Vision must inform the group strategy if you want to see success. Creating a long-term strategy for small-group ministry is very difficult for many. Often this is because the point person has no vision for where they want the ministry to go. Without a vision, it's difficult to choose a strategy that will result in a good outcome. On the other hand, when a point person has a clear vision, it's much easier to build an effective strategy to move the ministry toward the desired outcome.
Unify the Ministry
A deeply instilled vision is the unifying factor for the entire small-group ministry team. When everyone is on the same page, dreaming the same dream, there are fewer points of dissension, less concern for who gets the spotlight, and a shared passion that infiltrates the heart of every team member.