When Karen and I pulled into Lafayette to plant a church in 1996, God began to baptize us with a church vision plan. I began to have dreams in the night of standing in a pulpit as a pastor over what looked like many people in the congregation. I saw acres of land and a campus dotted with facilities in these dreams. And I would wake up so excited and thrilled and encouraged by the dreams. Then I would walk out into my living room and have church with the ten people to whom we were teaching Bibles studies. The vision didn’t seem to match reality. But one thing I’ve learned about vision: you cannot allow where you are to distract you from where God wants to take you.
1. A Church Vision Plan Begins at the Altar
Many times during those dreams I would wake up feeling the presence of God so strongly that I had to ease down the hallway to the living room where I would bury my face in the carpet and weep because the dream (vision) was so overwhelming. During that time, that living room became my altar. At that altar was where God would reassure me that the vision He gave me was going to come to pass. In I Kings Elijah built an altar unto the Lord in the middle of a drought. The fire of God fell on that altar and the next thing you read is that God gave Elijah a vision. It was in the form of a sound of an abundance of rain–not a rain that was there, but a rain that was to come. Vision is always a product of the altar. It’s at the altar where you find vision. It’s at the altar where you keep vision. And it’s at the altar where you get it back if you ever lose it. You can’t bypass the altar and expect to have great vision.
The vision that God gives you for your ministry or for the church He has called you to pastor can come in dreams or in that still small voice or in many different ways. But however it comes, you can be sure that God will give you something that allows you to see past where you are.So trust the vision God has given you. Your greatest days are not behind you; they are in front of you. Click To Tweet
2. Speak Your Vision
One of the hardest things to do when God gives you a vision is to tell somebody about it. It can make you sound foolish when you begin to describe something that has not happened yet. Speaking it beforehand requires more faith than receiving it, but there is power in telling what God has spoken into your spirit. In the past, I thought Joseph was crazy when he told his brothers about his dreams.
It’s at the altar where you find vision. It’s at the altar where you keep vision. And it’s at the altar where you get it back if you ever lose it. You can’t bypass the altar and expect to have great vision.
However, I realized something: Joseph understood it wouldn’t happen until he spoke it. If Joseph had not told his brothers about his dreams, his brothers never would have thrown him into a pit, he never would have gone to prison, and he never would have walked into the palace. You have to talk what you believe. Talking about what God is going to do sets the vision loose in your life, your ministry, and in God’s church! That’s what the Shunammite woman did in II Kings 4 when her son died and Gehazi asked her, “How are things?” She looked at him and said, “It is well.” Her son was not well but she was speaking what God had planted in her spirit. She understood that she had to tell it in order to see it come to pass.
Why We Need a Vision
Do we really need vision? A leadership team or a church of any size must be challenged to see beyond where they currently are. This challenge should motivate the pastor to cast the vision to his leadership team and his congregation. For a congregation to move toward a God-given vision, the leaders in that church must be part of that vision. A vision untold is a vision that will not unfold. This notion is why Proverbs 29 challenges us to have vision. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.”
3. Casting a Vision
Casting vision allows everyone to be involved in the miracle when it comes to pass. Elijah involved his servant in the miracle of the vision. Elijah took his servant to the mountain and then told him to go up and look for rain. Elijah was involving his leadership team in the process of the miraculous. Numerous times the servant came down from the mountain with a report that the vision had not come to pass. But notice what Elijah did: he cast the vision again and said, “Go look again.” In other words, don’t stop looking until you see it.
Go and Look Again
The pastor’s role is to keep the vision in the minds and in the hearts of the leaders and the church. They will not always see it, but the pastor must reassure the leaders, “Go and look again, because God said it’s going to rain.” And on one final trip the servant witnessed something that was forming on the horizon. He came running with a positive report: “I see something!” It wasn’t long before the skies were dark with pregnant clouds and the miracle rain began to fall. The servant became part of the miracle because Elijah included him in the process of the vision.
When a Vision Is Fulfilled
Over the years nothing has been more rewarding than to see our leaders and our congregation begin to experience the miracle of the fulfilment of the vision in which they were involved. They have witnessed their families and friends come to God. They have witnessed miracle after miracle of how God provided property and buildings and finances to accomplish His will.
So trust the vision God has given you. Your greatest days are not behind you; they are in front of you.
Derald Weber is the senior pastor at The Pentecostals of Lafayette, a church he and his wife, Karen, planted in 1996 in Lafayette, Louisiana. He serves as the Louisiana District North American Missions Director.
Resources and Links
A version of this content originally appeared in the Forward. Click here for more from Derald Weber.