On Casting Vision

You will often hear church leaders quote Proverbs 29:18 when discussing the importance of vision casting. That is, you will often hear them quote the first part.

Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained.

But there’s an oft-neglected second half to the text. Here it is in its entirety:

Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained.

But happy is he who keeps the Law.

The parallelism here likens a lack of vision to a failure to keep God’s law. In other words, the verse in its context says little about what we might think of as “vision casting.” In reality, it is a statement on the importance of obedience.

That leaves a lot of leaders scrambling for a biblical basis for vision casting. Where do we see it in Scripture? Where is it commanded? Where is it modeled?

The troublesome reality is that you will be hard pressed to find an explicit reference to or model for vision casting in the Bible. The general idea is present. Especially in the Old Testament, faithful people waited on a vision from the Lord before taking action. The disciples awaited the Holy Spirit’s coming in the upper room before establishing the church in Jerusalem. The Spirit himself directed the church to set Paul and Barnabas aside for the missions set before them.

As such, the desire for a direct vision from God is not a bad thing. But consider the advantages the missionary of today enjoys that the apostles and early disciples did not–namely, the complete canon of Scripture. What vision can you hope for that is not already present in the sufficient, inspired Word of God?

Jesus already cast the perfect vision for his church, and he did so more than once. In Matthew 16, Jesus promised to build his church on the foundation laid by the apostles. In Matthew 18, he envisioned his church as an embassy of heavenly accountability and grace. In Matthew 28, he gave his disciples explicit instruction on how to build the church. He also made strong statements about the scope of the church’s mission, saying that it will include disciples of all nations.

Who can improve upon that?

“But wait,” you might say. “Doesn’t NAMB assess potential planters on their abilities to cast vision?”

Yes, it does. But not in the way you might think. When a NAMB assessor asks you to describe your vision, he is looking for a specific plan. Where do you aim to plant? Why did you choose that community? What strategies will you employ to gain credibility in that community? When do you aim to launch? Do you have a launch team? How are they involved?

In other words, “vision casting” within the world of church planting needs to do two fundamental things:

  1. It ought to assume that Jesus already cast the perfect vision for building his church. In simpler terms, he already established “the bottom line.”
  2. It ought to outline a specific strategy for contributing to Jesus’s “bottom line.” What steps will you take to make and baptize disciples? How do you plan to teach them all that God has commanded?

In sum, vision casting is, at its heart, equal parts trust and hard work. You must first trust that Jesus will keep his promise to build his church. The work is ultimately his. That does not, however, give you a free pass to slack off. God is moving in and through his church. How do you plan to join him there?

 

 

 

 

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