How to Know Your Vision is Clear

If you are a leader, you might wonder if your vision as a church is clear. How do you know if you are accomplishing it? Often, leaders can be so hard charging they never stop to ask the question of whether they are hitting their target. Or, they are so complacent that they don’t care.

Here’s a simple way to know if your vision is clear: Are people coming to your church and leaving your church because of it. 


Is anyone attending your church because of your vision?

You will know this is true by talking to new people at your church. What drew them to your church? What excites them the most about your church? Why did they get plugged into a missional community, small group or serving team?

Listen to the stories people tell about your church, what they say when they baptized.

Are you seeing new people attend? New people stick?

If what people say is not part of your vision, you either have the wrong vision or it is not very clear.

Has anyone left your church because of your vision?

This will sound unloving and I understand.

As a pastor, you want as many people as possible to attend your church. I want everyone in Tucson to come to Revolution Church, love it and stay. I want them to be on board with our vision, our target and what we feel like God has called us to.

Everyone won’t though.

As much as that hurts, it is okay.

Every city needs lots of churches to reach all of the people in it.

Recently, I talked with two families that left our church and as I talked with them about the reasons why one of them articulated, “We just don’t agree with the vision.” When I asked him to clarify. He told me, “Revolution focuses too much on people who don’t know Jesus.”

He’s right. That is our vision.

If no one has left your church in the past year because they don’t agree with the vision of your church, it is either not clear, not bold enough or you aren’t actually doing your vision.

People don’t leave passive churches because of the vision.

People don’t leave visionless churches because of the vision.


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Why You Need to Define Your Target


I’ve been doing a series of posts on churches and the target they have (or don’t have). You can read part 1 on the fact that every church has a target (whether defined or not) here.

Once you determine that you will have a target, the question then becomes, who is it? How do you define it? How specific should it be?

Before you can answer those questions, maybe you are still on the fence about this whole idea. Having a target as a church sounds like a business, or that you don’t like certain people or that you are catering to someone.

As I mentioned already, you have a target, it just might be defined yet.

Here’s what happens in churches without a clearly defined target:

  • Every idea is a good idea. If you don’t have a clear target, every idea has to be put on the table for discussion and kept on the table. You will struggle to say no to anything, because your only reason will be “you don’t want to do it” or “we’ve alway done it this way.” Should we have a drama team? A puppet team? A quilting fair? A small group for coin collectors? Should use drums? Sing hymns? Preach topically or expository sermons? The answer to the above is yes. Do it all.
  • People burn out. Which leads quickly to burnout. When you don’t have a target and say yes to things you should say no to, you end up with a busy church calendar.
  • No one knows what the win is, so excitement and momentum are low or nonexistent. This is why church is so sad to me. I talked to a friend recently who quit his job at a church after “asking for almost 2 years for the lead pastor to define the win for our church. I even told him if what I was doing didn’t fit, I’d stop doing those things. I just wanted to know what the win was.” If you don’t know what the win is as the leader, no one else knows. If no one else knows, no one will know where you are, how you are doing and if it is worth their time, money, and effort. Without this knowledge, they are simply showing up. And no one enjoys just showing up. People will do it for a little bit out of a sense of duty, but they will walk away soon enough.
  • Budgeting is often a battle. If every idea is a good one because there is no target, no defined win, budget meetings are filled with people arguing for their pet projects and ministries they care about. If you don’t define the win, people will make their own.
  • God moves in other churches. I can’t prove this, I have no data on this. I can only look at the church I lead and the times the win was not clear there is a definite absence of God moving compared to the times the win was clear. This is convicting to me as a leader as I think about Revolution. It spurs me to stay as clear as possible, to never let me passion wane.


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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.


Are visits to heaven real?

It is quite true that heaven is a place of perfect bliss—devoid of all sorrow and sin, full of exultation and enjoyment—a place where grace and peace reign totally unchallenged. Heaven is where every true treasure and every eternal reward is laid up for the redeemed. Anyone whose destiny is heaven will certainly experience more joy and honor there than the fallen mind is capable of comprehending—infinitely more than any fallen creature deserves. But if you actually saw heaven and lived to tell about it, those things are not what would capture your heart and imagination.

Yancey Arrington on What to do when you’re in a preaching funk.

It seemed every time I stepped down from the pulpit my heart was full of frustration because, in my estimation, my sermons felt chunky, cluttered, or confused. There was an aimlessness about them. Everything kept coming off flat. They weren’t, for lack of a better term, ‘clicking’ in the hearts of the congregation (or for me for that matter). I would have people speak encouraging things to me after services but they were of the generic, southern politeness, garden-variety remarks that you would get no matter what because people are kind. And even if those messages were good, I didn’t feel that way. And if you don’t think your sermons are good, it doesn’t matter what others tell us. And for quite a season, that’s exactly how I felt. It was a Sahara of preaching because I felt desolate in the pulpit. It seemed no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t shake it. I still look back on that season and shudder. I hated it and wouldn’t wish it on any preacher.

Carolyn McCulley on How women easily confuse what they do with who they are.

Any change in what we do can easily trigger a crisis of identity — what is the story we are now to tell others about ourselves? While I think this is true for men, I think it is different, and perhaps more pronounced, for women because our productivity choices are scrutinized more often than those of men. That’s why the most divisive terms may be the dreaded “working mothers” versus “stay at home mothers.” If it were a simple description of the location of female productivity, that would be one thing. But these phrases are loaded with guilt and judgment.

Kevin DeYoung on Celebrity Pastors.

The term “celebrity pastor” is decidedly pejorative. I don’t know anyone who would be happy to own the phrase. That doesn’t mean we can’t use it. But it means we should not attach it to pastors in a knee jerk way. A Christian with some combination of influence, social media followers, books, a large church, and speaking engagements may be a public Christian or a well known individual, but let’s not use “celebrity pastor” unless we mean to say he relishes the spotlight, has schemed his way into the spotlight, and carries himself as being above mere mortals. Does this fit some popular preachers? Probably. Does it fit all of them? By no means.

Mark Dance on Should pastors be excited about everything?

Pastors sometimes feel pressure to show equal excitement about all of the ministries in our church, lest we show a hint of favoritism.  Well meaning members and staff lobby for their ministry’s rightful place in the promotional rotation, budget and church calendar.  Some of them even pressure the pastor to give a shout-out from the pulpit.

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Top Posts of February

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February was the biggest month ever on my blog. Thanks to all the new subscribers and readers and thank you for all the shares of content on Facebook, Twitter and other places. Please keep it up.

If you missed anything, not to worry, here are the top 10 posts for the month:

  1. The One Thing Destroying Your Marriage That You Don’t Realize
  2. Women, It Matters Who You Marry
  3. Loving Does Not Equal Participating
  4. 11 Ways to Know You’ve Settled for a Mediocre Marriage
  5. 7 Ways to Fight Well in Your Marriage
  6. 7 Reasons You Aren’t Communicating with your Spouse
  7. Men, Your Son-in-Law Determines Your Legacy
  8. Before You Criticize Your Pastor
  9. How I Structure my Week
  10. When a Staff Member or Volunteer says, “I’m Done”
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Men, Your Son-in-Law Determines Your Legacy


Last week, as I wrapped up our series Beautiful at Revolution, I preached on Proverbs 31. If you missed it, you can listen to it here.

One of the things that struck me is verse 23 when we are told what her husband is like.

There are many sides and applications to this verse.

The first is to women, which I blogged about here. The other is to fathers of daughters.

Many fathers talk a big game about protecting their daughters, yet when it comes down to teaching them about sex, fashion, modesty, who to date and marry, they cower in the corner.

Every man wants to know that their life will matter. Every man wants to leave a legacy when they are gone. This is why it matters how involved you are in your kids lives and what you teach them. When your daughter marries a man, your legacy will be determined by him.

This man, will teach your grandkids how to worship Jesus, how to read their Bible, he will teach them a work ethic, he will teach them about Jesus, money and generosity, sex and fashion. He will teach your grandsons how to view and treat women by how he will treat your daughter. He will treat your granddaughters about how men treat women by how he will treat your daughter. All of these things will be taught by him.

Now, think about how men are involved in who their daughter marries.

They often know very little about the man who marries his daughter. They only know that their daughter likes him, he claims to be a Christian and he came to ask permission for her hand. What a guy.

Sadly, this is typical and seen as a good thing and not even close to be able to know if he is worthy of your daughter.

Men, do more than this.

I’m not saying you should go on a date with your daughter, but be around her and the man she wants to marry. Watch him. Spend time alone with him. Ask him about his relationship with Jesus. Talk about theology and the gospel. Ask him about purity and sex. Is this personal? Yes. You know this from your life to be true, your sexual history dramatically impacted your marriage.

My hope for men is that they step up to the plate and serve their daughters in this way. You encourage your daughter in school, in a major, jobs to take, opportunities to spend time on. Then, when it comes to marriage we think, “That is her choice.” Everything you help her in is her choice, this one, marriage, is just the most important life decision she will make outside of following Jesus.

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Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.


Dorie Clark on Why we can’t stop working.

The ROI of work is immediately apparent. You get instant feedback and, oftentimes, instant gratification in the form of raises, promotions, new contracts, or general approbation. The arc of family life is different. In the moment, it can be banal, boring, or discouraging.

Perry Noble on 7 ways to be rich.

Give it TIME…what we spent years messing up will most likely not be fixed in three days, or even three weeks!

Dave Bruskas on 4 priorities for pastors from Christmas to Easter.

Christmas, with all its ministry demands, has come and gone. You’ve had a few days off. But you are still very tired as you approach the long run to Easter. How should you prioritize your time and energy? What can you do to recover?

Will Mancini on Ministry trends of 2014 leaders can’t ignore.

Sometimes you can dismiss a trend as a fad. Like Crocs, the Harlem Shake, or flash mobs. At other times to dismiss a trend is just a mistake. As in every era, some of today’s trends will become tomorrow’s reality. Innovative leaders aren’t afraid to embrace change and to be some of the first in on the shifts they see around them. In that spirit, here are 5 trends you’ll no longer be able to dismiss in 2014.

Tony Merida on 9 benefits of expository preaching.

Expository preaching is an approach that is founded on certain theological beliefs, such as the role of the preacher according to Scripture, the nature of the Scripture, and the work of the Spirit. Therefore, many of the benefits for doing exposition are hard to measure. However, nine practical-theological benefits are worth noting.

If you miss your family, you miss everything.

7 crippling parenting behaviors that keep your kids from becoming leaders.

I was intrigued, then, to catch up with leadership expert Dr. Tim Elmore and learn more about how we as parents are failing our children today — coddling and crippling them — and keeping them from becoming leaders they are destined to be. Tim is a best-selling author of more than 25 books, including Generation iY: Our Last Chance to Save Their FutureArtificial Maturity: Helping Kids Meet the Challenges of Becoming Authentic Adults, and theHabitudes® series. He is Founder and President of Growing Leaders, an organization dedicated to mentoring today’s young people to become the leaders of tomorrow.

Ed Stetzer on 5 ways to teach your kids to hate the ministry.

To put it bluntly, a lot of pastors’ children hate the ministry. My team interviewed 20 pastors’ kids who are adults now. They provided some insights that were both inspiring and disturbing. Children with a pastor-parent can grow to hate the ministry for many reasons, but there are five guaranteed ways you can make sure they hate being a pastor’s kid (PK).

OK Go “This too Shall Pass”
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Planning a Preaching Calendar


I mentioned in my mind dump on Monday that we have our sermons for 2014 planned out and I got a few emails from guys asking how we plan that far in advance, what goes into it, how we decide what to do that far in advance, etc.

So, here are some thoughts.

First, why plan that far in advance. This often gets debated. Should you plan at the last minute or plan ahead. The fly by the seat of their pants guys will often say, “I’m waiting for the Holy Spirit to speak” or “If you plan that far in advance, you will take the Holy Spirit out of it.” I’ve learned that the Holy Spirit can speak 1 hour before I preach a sermon and 1 year before I preach a sermon. I just need to listen. I think planning ahead is biblical and wise, whether it is your life or ministry. Can you take the Holy Spirit out of things by planning that far in advance? Yes. You can also take the Holy Spirit out by being a last minute guy because you are more likely to preach what you want to preach.

Here are a few things I think through when planning a preaching calendar:

  1. What have I already preached on. It is important to know what you have already preached on and not repeat it. If you have just done 3 NT books of the Bible, change it up. We try to alternate between old testament and new. It doesn’t always happen that way, but that’s the rhythm we seek to have. We are in John right now and before that we did Ecclesiastes, Ephesians, Joshua, and before that 1 & 2 Peter. You don’t have to rigidly lock into that, but it helps to make sure you are preaching different books, topics and genres of Scripture.
  2. What topics do I feel like my church needs to hear. This gets at who is at your church, who you are hoping to reach, what questions your culture is asking. Every year at our church, we seek to preach on marriage, relationships, generosity, and money. We will hit those topics every single year regardless of what books we preach through. Why? Our culture is always asking questions about those things. In this point, you need to think through time of year. We talked about doing a series on pain and suffering in February 2014, but people aren’t asking those questions then. They are still asking questions about meaning, purpose and how to have a better new year, be a better person. You can argue those aren’t great questions to ask, but you can’t argue with the fact that they are asking those questions.
  3. What haven’t I talked on recently. This helps to identify the places you gravitate towards and help expose things you are afraid to address or have simply skipped. This is when you look back at your old sermon schedule and see where you’ve been.
  4. What am I passionate about. This can be good and bad. It is good because you have to preach what you are passionate about. Otherwise, no one will listen. It is bad because you can easily preach what you are only passionate about. It took me 5 years at Revolution to preach through a whole gospel. Why? Because I love the NT letters more. That can be unhealthy for a church if it goes too long. Other preachers stay in the gospels and ignore Paul, or ignore the OT.
  5. Where is my church going. This is a vision question. What is coming up in the next year that you can preach towards? For Revolution, we are praying towards planting Revolution Church | Midtown next year, because of that, I want to preach towards that. We are going to go through 1 Corinthians next year leading up to that moment. This will allow me to hit topics of a gospel centered church, what the gospel does, talk about how a church responds to divorce, sex outside of marriage, homosexuality, how a church functions with spiritual gifts, leadership and other issues that arise in a church. This means though, as a pastor you need to lead with vision and know where you are going.


Why do You Do What You Do (Lesson on Vision from Starbucks)


One of the most important questions every person, leader, organization must answer is “Why do we do what we do?”

If you don’t know the answer to this question, anything is fair game or a good idea. This question answers how you spend your time, spend your money, how you deploy volunteers or staff members. If it is not clarified from the top on down, an organization or church will languish.

The answer to this question empowers people and helps them to know that their contributions matter, are needed and are making a difference.

I recently saw this at Starbucks.

One of the things we’ve done for years at Starbucks is order a large smoothie for our kids and split it into 3 small cups. This helps us spend less and give our kids the amount that they need.

Last week, Katie ordered it that way (as we’ve done for almost 5 years) and the barista said, “we can’t do that.” When Katie asked why, the barista didn’t know. She just said they aren’t allowed to that.

What makes this interesting is how Starbucks has always trumpeted “say yes whenever you can to the customer.” They will remake drinks if they don’t taste right, give out free water if you ask for it and on and on.

Needless to say, knowing this it seemed odd.

Then, we went to a different Starbucks the other day and ordered it again and the barista said, “we can’t do that.” Again, Katie asked why and she didn’t know. A manager jumped into the conversation and said, “we can’t do that because we’ve been taken advantage of.”

Here’s where a lack of a clear why destroys a company or church, scarcity comes in. Volunteers and staff aren’t sure what is okay. You say, “always say yes” and then create rules. Fear grows and things stagnate.

Now, will Starbucks go under because of this. No.

Think about my family though and what Starbucks will lose: In the past we’d spend $5 on a smoothie we split into 3 cups. Now, I’ll order 3 tall waters for free. I’ll still get the cups, the straws and the sleeves because my kids love those. The difference? I’ll take money from Starbucks instead of giving it to them.

Running your organization or church through scarcity or a lack of why is destructive. Do you need to be wise? Yes. Make money to survive? Yes. But those who seek to protect instead of give away or be generous quickly find themselves scrambling to keep what they have. Our culture loves generosity, not scarcity. In churches, God blesses generosity, not scarcity.

9 Reasons Values Matter to a Church


  1. They determine ministry distinctives.
  2. They dictate personal involvement.
  3. They communicate what is important.
  4. They guide change.
  5. They influence overall behavior.
  6. They inspire people to action.
  7. They enhance credible leadership.
  8. They shape ministry character.
  9. They contribute to ministry success.

From Look Before You Lead: How to Discern & Shape Your Church Culture by Aubrey Malphurs.


Links I Like

Links I Like is a collection of blogs, articles and books I’ve come across recently and thought they were worth sharing. Click here for past Links I Like.


  1. If you want to be a great leader, you must have vision.
  2. Donald Zimmerman on How to structure your worship ministry. This makes me appreciate Paul Ingram all the more.
  3. Personal branding for introverts.
  4. Tim Challies on Do you have a personal relationship with Satan?
  5. Great leaders are rarely normal, well-adjusted people.
  6. Garrett Kell on How to destroy your marriage before it begins.
  7. Hannah Joiner on Secrets for dads with daughters.
  8. Stop trying to date yourself. Great word for singles.
  9. Chan Kilgore on What he wished he would’ve known about leadership, parenting and satanic attacks when he started pastoring. If you are a pastor or thinking about it, this is a great series of blog posts.
  10. Will people have a chance to repent after they die?
  11. Trevin Wax on When your kids say “Dad, I know all the bible stories.”
  12. What one pastor wish he would’ve known about critics and parenting when he started pastoring.
  13. Thom Rainer on 7 tips for introverted pastors.
  14. The most important interview Rick Warren has ever done. I watched this last night and was blown away while watching it. Really a moving interview.
  15. How to not make a hiring mistake.

An Awkward Interview on a New book