GUEST POST by Gregg Farah serves as a teaching pastor and the student ministry pastor at Shelter Rock Church on Long Island. He and his wife, Janine have been married for 20+ years and are the parents of three amazing daughters. Besides laughing with his family, he enjoys writing, pursuring the perfect pizza slice, cheering for the Mets, and playing sports. Gregg & Doug served on the same youth ministry team a few years back and he’ll occasionally share a story of Doug eating his food and making his children cry on his blog
For years I thought vision casting and strategic planning were for the professionals. Either elite ministry leaders who heard directly from God or gifted business leaders of Fortune 500 companies. I was intimidated by big dreamers w/ strong personalities and thought “I could never do that.”
Not only did I think I didn’t have the ability to cast vision, but I feared it would be wrong to try…as if I were messing up the sacred ground in which only the select could tread. Maybe that’s a bit dramatic…but I was certain vision casting and strategic planning were not for me.
I could not have been more wrong. God has given each of us the ability to see beyond ourselves––to both cast vision and plan strategically.
Every youth worker is a visionary. Vision casting is not limited to the elite.
The moment you invite a student to follow Jesus, challenge a student to make good choices or explain why they will benefit from offering forgiveness, you are casting vision. You are helping them to see what they can’t see or haven’t yet experienced. Or you’re giving them a renewed vision to hope or to believe.
Vision casting requires two vital actions: prayer and courage
Whether you’re talking to a parent who just found out her son was arrested, a student who is afraid to try out for a team, a student who is devastated from a break-up, or another leader who doesn’t think he’s effective in ministry, you need to beg God (in prayer) for wisdom: “God, what do I say? Is there a Bible verse I could share?” These are important questions and need to be handled with prayer.
But once you know what you’re supposed to say, you need courage to follow through. Some ministry comes to us: a phone call, a text, and question a students asks while hanging out. But more often than not, we GO to minister. We sense a student needs encouragement, or we know a student has been making some bad choices and we go to lovingly confront. Most of us don’t like confrontation. In fact, our homes and churches are filled with bumpy carpets because we sweep things under the rug. But youth workers are vision casters. God has called us to work in the lives of students and families, and so we boldly yet humbly take courageous steps to care.
Strategic planning is linked to vision in this way: whether you’re casting vision for an event or a next step of faith, you’re more likely to have success if you formulate a plan. Well guess what? Strategic planning takes prayer and courage too…plus a lot of time. In fact the words strategic planning are Greek for “I need coffee.”
Some points about planning:
1. start w/ the end in mind (paint a picture for what it will look like and then…)
2. work backwards; identifying goals/benchmarks along the way so you know you’re making progress
3. work as a team (don’t do ministry alone)
4. don’t give up (warning: ministry is hard..that’s one reason it’s good to develop a team)
5. celebrate (the process and the results…even if they don’t match your expectations)
Leadership is not for the faint-hearted. But all leaders have the ability and responsibility to both cast vision and plan strategically. Help a student know where to go, and then help him/her get there.
Question: What else is required to effectively cast vision? Share your thoughts here.