Vision statements and mission statements have been standard for churches for many years now. When I was a seminary student in the nineties, the church growth movement was hitting full stride. An emphasis in the church growth movement was that a church needed to be focused. It needed to know who its target audience was and how it was going to reach them. Vision statements and mission statements were a standard tool for keeping the focus in the right place.
Interestingly, the primary target of many churches that followed church growth methodology became young urban professionals who were also economically upwardly mobile. There may have been a few exceptions of people of going to the economically down and out, but for the most part, these churches were planted and grew in the suburbs and in metropolitan areas.
During the years that I have been out of country, many people have become disenchanted by the church growth model. They began to discuss the need to be missional. They decided to start new kinds of churches with a different focus. However, I find it interesting that many, if not most, of these churches seem to be in areas and doing ministries in such a way that they reach young urban professionals who happen to be economically, upwardly mobile. There are more exceptions to that trend than there were with the church growth movement, and I don’t think it is intentional as it was in the nineties. Still, it is interesting.
Vision statements can help. They can keep us from flying off in different directions, but they can also be limiting. I wonder if our vision statements sometimes make us blind to the opportunities that God places in our path. Is there a danger that we assume that God’s direction is one way when really He wants to stretch us in a different direction? If an opportunity for ministry outside our vision statement arises, how can we know that God does not want to change our direction? I don’t believe that we should be so slavishly attached to our vision statements that we would miss that God desires to broaden or to change the vision.