Bryan is the lead pastor of Jubilee Church in St. Louis, MO. Today, Jubilee runs four services across three locations and is aggressively pursuing its vision to see twenty locations in the St. Louis Metro area. Bryan also serves the Newfrontiers churches in the Midwest and oversees the Mobilise USA Conference. His passion is to see the gospel impact cities and devotes much of his time teaching and training leaders. He and his wife, Rachel, have three children (Ella, Simon & Josephine).
This is the fifth in a series of blogs on leadership and casting vision from Jubliee Church leader Bryan Mowrey. You can read the rest by clicking here.
"Walk about Zion, go around her, number her towers, consider well her ramparts, go through her citadels, that you may tell the next generation that this is God…" (Psalm 48:12-14 ESV)
We went through a stretch in our church when I just did not feel like people were excited enough about what God was doing. I kept asking myself, "Don't people see what's happening?" Unfortunately the answer to that question was, "no they weren't." And the reason why they weren't was because I wasn't telling them about it. I was not practicing Psalm 48…at least not all of Psalm 48. I would walk around through the church and notice the growth and the life change, but I wasn't communicating it to the whole church. That had to change and it has changed. Now we are regularly discussing the "wins" in the church among all the staff and volunteer leaders as well as integrating these stories in our Sunday morning. The result is that people's vision buckets are getting full again.
Another aspect to this point is to break down the big wins into smaller, bite sized wins. For example, we all want people saved in our churches, but what are some steps or some small victories that we can celebrate on our way to the big victory? Most of us are used to putting all of our energy and motivation at the beginning, but we need to add some motivation during the journey as well. In a marathon, it's not the first mile that you need motivation, but it's the 13th, 14th and 15th mile where motivation can be lacking. If we can create mile markers for people (small wins) and celebrate them, we can really add to people's vision buckets.
So I would encourage you to ask every area of ministry to come up with small victories. What would that be for the greeting team? Kids ministry? Worship teams? Staff? Ushers? Small Group Leaders? Identify what a win is for each group and celebrate those small wins along the path toward your overall goal and purpose.
I don't understand how a Pastor can say that he desires to lead according to a New Testament pattern, but yet bails on calling the church to regular times of corporate prayer. When you read the books of Acts, if they weren't busy selling all their possessions to minister to the poor, preaching the gospel boldly, having dinner at each other's homes, or being thrown in jail, they were having a prayer meeting. They were prayer dependent because they were God dependent.
The same could be said for Jesus…he was always praying. Early in the morning (Mark 1:35); late in the evening (Mt 14:23); at his baptism (Luke 3:21); choosing the twelve (Luke 6:12); at the transfiguration (Luke 9:28); before and after ministering to others (Mark 6:46); before and after miracles (Luke 5:16); before the cross (Mt 26:36) and on the cross (Mark 15:34). He prayed for children (Mt 19:13), for Peter (Luke 22:32), for his friends (Luke 17:9) and for those who hated Him (Luke 23:34). Jesus not only commanded prayer, but he modeled it. He was always praying!
However, if that's not enough evidence to convince you to have a regular prayer meeting, here's another reason…it will help you cast vision better. In my experience, prayer meetings are the best place to cast vision and here's why. When you preach vision, you might get some sort of immediate response from people, but many will forget it once Monday rolls around. But here's the beauty of casting vision during a prayer meeting: people have to immediately process it not just in their mind, but their hearts. Moreover, if you encourage participation like we do at Jubilee Church, you're asking them to own it by praying it out aloud. So, it's one thing to preach into sharing the gospel with their neighbor, but the vision bucket gets a lot fuller when you ask them to go ahead and pray for their neighbor. It's one thing to encourage people to have a heart for the nations, but it takes on new meaning for your people when you ask them to pray for the nations…it just sinks deeper in their hearts.
Bonus track: Not only are prayer meetings a great place to cast vision, but they are also a great place to determine how envisioned your people are. Prayer is the language of desire. People pray not from the mind, but the heart. What people pray is what's really important to them. You can gauge whether or not people are getting the vision of the church by the passion level in their prayers.
Bill Hybels had said this about communicating vision. "Years of experience have shown me that…even after casting the most compelling vision some people will respond, 'Bill, we really like here better than there.' The first play is not to make 'there' sound phenomenal; the first play is to make 'here' sound horrific and intolerable. You must build a strong case for why we cannot stay put and why that will be disastrous."
Here's the good news and bad news about where you are at as a church…the people you have at the moment like where you've led it. They like the size, the feel, the ministries, how you run your services, your preaching…you name it, they like or they wouldn't be there. So why would this be bad news? This is bad news because it means that they are probably unconvinced that anything should change and without change, progress is impossible. As the leader, you have to be the champion for change, which means you must never get comfortable with where things are at. You must train your disposition to be unsettled with the status quo.
Here are a few ways to fight against the status quo:
1) Create standards and set goals - the apostle Paul was very intentional about what he was doing. He had a prize in mind and he disciplined himself to get there (1 Cor 9:24-27)
2) Be humble: Invite input into your life - When you read verses like Philippians 3:12, you get the sense with Paul that if anyone walked up to him and said, "Paul, I think you could get more out of your walk with Christ if you adjusted a few degrees to the left" he would have gladly taken that counsel. Paul was not focused on past success, but future progress. (Phil 3:13-14)
3) Be intentional about progress (1 Tim 4:15).
4) Watch your life as well as your doctrine (1 Tim 4:16).
In the past year I came across an 18 minute video by Simon Sinek that has totally revolutionized my approach to preaching, doing announcements, sending emails, leading staff meetings…basically any opportunity to cast vision. We have embedded that talk at the bottom of this post.
What Simon points out is that people join you not because of what your product is, but because they believe what you believe. Therefore, it's important that you start with the why before you go to what or how.
For example, if you're looking to cast vision for small groups in your church. Instead of saying something like, "Just wanted to let everyone know that at Jubilee Church we meet in small groups of 10-15 people all throughout the metro area for the purpose of growing in Christ, building relationships and serving others. If you want to join one, signs up start today." It's better to say, "At Jubilee, we believe life is a team sport and that we weren't meant to do life alone. That's why we meet in groups of 10-15 people all throughout the metro area…"
I would encourage you to take a moment before you preach your next sermon, write your next bulletin announcement, or lead your next staff or volunteer meeting, that you first clearly articulate why you are doing whatever it is that you're doing and make sure it connects with your overall vision or values. Sometimes in that process of stating the why, you might even find out your doing the wrong things!
For a long time, casting vision seemed elusive to me. At every conference, I would hear about the importance of vision and could define it, but actually knowing the process of casting vision was more guesswork than anything. Over the years, I've stumbled on a few things by watching others and through trial and error that have helped me to clarify what it takes to cast vision effectively.
When it comes to expressing the importance of personal passion in communicating vision, John Wesley said it best when he described his approach to the pulpit, "I set myself on fire, they come to watch me burn." If you are not burning with something, you will not be convincing or attract followers. So let's explore that for a second. What are you passionate about? Is being a pastor for you about a job or a calling? How do you view the people in your church and in your community? Do you see them as hurting and helpless? Is there compassion? Does the glory of the Lord consume you? What is it?
Bill Hybels calls finding your passion your "Popeye moment." In other words, what is it in the world that you see and say, "I can't stands it and I can't stands it no more?" What can't you stand? Is it the poor not begin fed? Is it a lost soul damned for all eternity? Is it a broken marriage? For King David it was an uncircumcised Philistine giant that defied the armies of the Living God (1 Samuel 17:26). For Nehemiah, it was the broken down walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 1:2-3). Hybels calls this having a "Holy Discontent" that compels you to action. The leader will draw others into what he is truly passionate about.
Paul tells Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:15 to operate in such a way that people see progress. I think whatever you say your vision is, you have to relentlessly pursue to achieve success or die trying. People need to see that you're committed and are not just doing a sales job. I believe if the cause is noble and you're committed, you will be effective in casting vision.
Ed Stetzer joined us at the Newfrontiers USA Leaders conference, Equipped for Mission, this past October. At the conference, he spoke at three main sessions, sharing some observations and encouragements for us as a movement and for the Church in America as a whole. Bryan Mowrey got a few minutes to sit down with Ed and hear a little bit more.
In this video, Ed speaks encourages the pastors of average sized churches. He challenges us to love, lead and pastor the people God has given us well. This is the final of four interviews. View the first video here.
(If you cannot view the video, click here to view the post in your browser.)
Ed Stetzer joined us at the Newfrontiers USA Leaders conference, Equipped for Mission, this past October. At the conference, he spoke at three main sessions, sharing some observations and encouragements for us as a movement and for the Church in America as a whole. Bryan Mowrey got a few minutes to sit down with Ed and hear a little bit more. In this video, Ed dismisses poor statisticians and comments on the actual state of the church. It is the third of four interviews so check back later for more! (View the first video here.)
Ed Stetzer joined us at the Newfrontiers USA Leaders conference, Equipped for Mission, this past October. At the conference, he spoke at three main sessions, sharing some observations and encouragements for us as a movement and for the Church in America as a whole. Bryan Mowrey got a few minutes to sit down with Ed and hear a little bit more. In this video, Ed comments on Andrew Wilson's blog and also about pastors that seem to be more concerned with methods and tools than vision and values. This is the second of four interviews so check back later for more! (View the first video here.)
Ed Stetzer joined us at the Newfrontiers USA Leaders conference, Equipped for Mission, this past October. At the conference, he spoke at three main sessions, sharing some observations and encouragements for us as a movement and for the Church in America as a whole. Bryan Mowrey got a few minutes to sit down with Ed and hear a little bit more. In this video, Ed uses one word to describe the state of the Church in America today. This is the first of four interviews so check back later for more!
A shepherd once described sheep as "dumb, obstinate, directionless and unable to survive on their own." In the Bible, sheep are referred to more than 400 times and are a common metaphor used to describe Christians. What could be God trying to communicate to us? Are we dumb? Are we obstinate? Directionless? Unable to survive on our own? The answer is a resounding yes. We are all of the above and then some and we have lots of history to back that up. In His love for us, God wants the word to know that we have a profound need for shepherding by Him and by one another. As you read through Scripture, God's heart for sheep and His desire that they be shepherded and shepherded well is clear.
In Ezekiel 34, God is very upset with the shepherds in Israel for their lack of shepherding. In Matthew 9:36, after delivering great teaching and healing every disease and affliction, Jesus doesn't call them blessed as you might imagine, but He had compassion on them. Why would Jesus have compassion on a group of people who just heard Jesus teach and have all their diseases healed? The Bible tells us He had compassion because they were sheep without a shepherd. His solution? Pray for more laborers (more shepherds).
There's been a lot of talk in recent years about the importance of being missional and there's no doubt that's true. Tragically, the church in recent years has become inward and self-serving. Our desire to reach the world must be done with a shepherds heart and not just the ambition to grow churches. Jesus described His mission as one who was sent to go after lost sheep. Jesus described Himself not as the good evangelist, the good prophet, the good teacher or the good missiologists, but the Good Shepherd.
After His resurrection, He asked Peter three times if Peter loved Him. Each time after Peter affirmed that he did, Jesus said, "Then feed my sheep." I often hear pastors say, "It's not my job to feed the sheep. They need to feed themselves." That's not what Jesus said. It's true our job as pastors is to see our sheep mature and even shepherd themselves. The great commission is to make disciples who make disciples, who make disciples. In other words, shepherds find lost sheep, bring them into the fold and teach them to be shepherds who also go out and find lost sheep. But if sheep are dumb, obstinate, directionless and can't survive on their own, how can they feed themselves until we show them how?
Our world is full of lost sheep and it breaks God's heart they don't have a shepherd. God is looking for more shepherds to love and care for His sheep.
Confluence is a place where the reformed, the charismatic, and the mission-minded converge to equip and serve the church to transform communities. Our authors are mostly leaders in the Newfrontiers family of churches. Read more.
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