Habakkuk 2:2-3

Dear Matriarchs,

We have just “finished” a visioning process, culminating in a new statement of the church’s identity and purpose. We are using the statement in worship each week for the next few weeks, but then what? How do I lead into this next phase, as we try to live into this new chapter? Working through the visioning process was one thing–there are so many resources with steps and ideas and outlines. Living into the result seems much more nebulous, but I know that this is the time for leadership, not for relaxing because we’re “done”…

Now What?

Dear NW,

First of all, kudos and a big High Five for your desire to do something more with this good work beyond relegating it to a wall plaque or a filing cabinet. Some ideas:

  • Publish it in every newsletter and email update and church directory, etc.
  • Highlight your new statement in church meetings (boards, committees, mission teams, groups). Each time, get everyone read it in unison, and then do an opening game or activity with it that leads that group to interact with it and own it, like:
  • What word or phrase is your favorite?
    What part of this calls this particular group to reflection &/or action?
    After awhile, put each sentence on a card, give one to each person, and have them put them in order. Ask, does the order of the statement matter?
  • Another way to use the statement is to gently keep meetings and plans focused. “How does this express our stated purpose to . . .?” Also, be ready to affirm decisions and ways of being that do authentically express the congregation’s identity.
  • Use these statements to create worship liturgy and responses, especially on days of congregational meetings.
  • Could someone write an original hymn based on your statement? Or, could a person or group use these to create new words to a familiar hymn tune?

Don’t forget to ask your governing board if they have ideas about how to use it. Ask them to come up with 10 ideas, and then get them to decide on one or two that they can do or lead.

Sharon at Tidings of Comfort and Joy 

Dear Now What,
I’d suggest planning with your congregational leaders. Do you have a committee structure? Consider sharing the identity/purpose statement with each committee as a point of reflection and planning at each meeting for the next few months…or more. How do the plans and dreams of committees and groups in the life of the congregation reflect the statement? Use it as a touchstone everywhere you can. Print it in your church newsletter. Preach about it. Invite others to dream with you about what this statement means to them.
Best to you as you help live out some dreams!
Jennifer at An Orientation of Heart

Dear Now What?,

First off, if the new vision for the church isn’t implemented in decent time, no one will work on one again for years. It’s too distressing to be asked to discern identity and purpose if nothing comes of it. Second, is there a portion of the new statement that excites you? Makes you glad to be in leadership? If so, begin with this. If you feel there is too much “stuff” to do before you get to your exciting work, stop and look at the to-do list again and organize it into what can be done now and what can be done later. This will become clear to you as you draw up lists and more lists. Finally, consider a calendar of what will begin when. Then publicize every portion you implement through newsletter, bulletin or minute for mission (whatever you use to tell the congregation the same message at least 5 times.) P.S. I do better bounding into the future after a nap and a chat with a best friend.

Sally-Lodge Teel at St.Casserole

Dear Now What,
Congratulations on getting through the visioning process. That’s an important accomplishment. But that’s the easy part and, as you said,
now the fun begins!

I suggest that the statement become part of the daily liturgy of the church: spoken at the beginning of every worship as in: Good morning! We are ____ and our vision is to ___________! Welcome!

It would be good to start every meeting with this statement as well. Also, as leaders meet, they can stop after every Big Issue (e.g. the decision on the Vacation Bible School curriculum, the decision to hold a chili dinner, the evaluation after the youth retreat) and have a brief conversation about how that decision/program/event supported the vision (or didn’t.)

This is the only way that things will shift and the new vision becomes part of your congregation’s DNA. I hope you will avoid the temptation of putting it on a shelf after a couple weeks and then forgetting about it. Good luck!

Jan Edmiston at A Church for Starving Artists 

Dear “Now What”,

We just finished our Vision/Mission statement also. I love your idea of using it in worship!
Some of my thoughts on incorporating the vision statement in the life of your congregation:

-a Christian Education class centered on the vision statement
-have each committee/ministry Team talk about ways their ministry focus can support the vision statement
-use the vision statement as a devotional focus for the staff meetings

Blessings on your ministry!
Rev. Kelley 


Readers, what is your experience? Please share your thoughts in the comments. And if you have a question for our panel of experienced clergywomen, please send it to askthematriarch at gmail dot com.

4 thoughts on “Ask the Matriarch: Vision Process, check! Now what?

  1. The Matriarchs have wise advice here! The only thing I can add, from my secular leadership experience, is that it also helps to have the vision printed at the top of meeting agendas and posted in meeting spaces, for easy reference. When I was a not-for-profit exec, I challenged the management team to learn our new vision by heart and gave prizes to those who could recite it. Silly, perhaps, but 10 years later people *still* remember it, and it was the scaffold for the most productive strategic work we ever did together.


  2. I took images from a power point presentation that highlighted the three areas we were going to focus on and had them plaque mounted; they hang in two place: in the entry way and in our meeting room. There are four strips of four slides each. They serve as a reminder to us.


  3. This is when you really have to claim your authority as the leader of your church. Every Sunday morning is an opportunity to talk about how your church can live out the vision. I’m not suggesting a “bully pulpit”, but you, more than anyone else, have the power to persuade your congregation to fulfill the vision that they have for their church. And you have the authority to ensure that every decision is made with the intention of fulfilling the vision. You will be amazed by how quickly the leadership takes the lead and starts repeating what you have said and owns the vision. But, like it or not, whether the church lives out the vision is, at least at first, on your capable shoulders.


  4. From the replies above I’m not sure I’ve understood the question, but just in case… (UK CofE perspective here)
    I agree that the vision needs to be everywhere, and in everyone’s mind. But at some point it has to translate into action. So, from the vision we then decide the goals that flow from that, and then what that looks like in practical terms, and break it down into the activites that are needed, and allocate training, people and tasks.
    So for instance, if we want more young families to be involved then we need to look at why they might want to join us, why some stay away right now, and how *we* need to change to make change happen. So we look at our existing contacts and how we build those relationships outside church; are our service times at family-friendly times, are our services conducted in a way that makes families feel welcome, or are noisy children a source of tutting etc.


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