It’s time to dream about a better tomorrow. Stop imagining what could be and step into what is by conducting a vision planning retreat.
By Bryan Rose
Imagine a day when every staff member and key lay leader wakes up with a clear and shared understanding of God’s better future for your church.
Imagine a day when the question “What’s your vision, pastor?” brings you energy and excitement, not dread or suspicion.
Now imagine a day when every ministry understands its role in fulfilling the entire church’s disciple-making call, not just its role in filling a church calendar slot.
How can this exercise in imagination become a reality? Could time away together as a staff and leadership team lead to these God-sized dreams? Only if you stop putting off scheduling a meaningful leadership retreat.
Barriers to vision planning
Auxano’s team of vision strategists have observed nine reasons leadership teams often neglect taking time away to pray and plan together:
1. Leaders cannot guarantee a return on the investment of time and money a planning retreat will take.
2. The staff lives from Sunday to Sunday, putting out fires, and cannot focus together for long.
3. Everyone typically makes great relational strides on retreats but achieves little tactical progress.
4. No financial resources have been budgeted for getting the team away to pray and plan.
5. The pastor’s credibility is at stake if another plan is created but not executed.
6. Finding and installing yet another “silver bullet” program is far easier than conceiving and implementing a lasting process.
7. Anyone on staff could lead a good enough retreat, but nobody has the time to plan and facilitate an excellent one.
8. It has always been easier to rely on the senior pastor for all the answers and easier for the senior pastor to supply them.
9. There are so many problems that need to be solved and so much that needs to be evaluated that most teams do not know where to start.
If you’ve been putting off a vision planning retreat, one or more of the above reasons likely resonate with you. Waiting until you have enough time or money to get the team away masks the reality that you won’t ever get around to it until a significant enough event arrives and forces your hand.
Crisis forces clarity, but it’s not always the clarity we need for long-term impact.“Crisis forces clarity, but it’s not always the clarity we need for long-term impact.” — @thebryanrose Click To Tweet
Reasons for a planning retreat
That said, here are 10 reasons to schedule a vision planning retreat with your staff and leadership team before a crisis requires it:
1. Being made in the image of God, we are created with the imagination and endowed with the responsibility to envision His better future for our church.
2. Without a shared visionary plan for the church, leaders will create their own plan for their ministry based on their personal priorities.
3. Of the many ministry activities without a clear return on investment of time and money, getting away to plan and pray is the least risky.
4. An engaging, vibrant vision should always exceed on-hand resources, and the process of crafting a visionary plan shouldn’t be any different.
5. If you wait until you have enough time, money, and people to envision your future, it will probably be because those resources have shrunk to meet your past.
6. Crisis-driven planning yields necessary short-term solutions, but growing healthy teams necessitates long-term strategies.
7. Unscheduled relational moments on the retreat strengthen collaboration and commitment around scheduled meetings on the agenda.
8. Pre-packaged and microwaved vision solutions (found in books, conferences, and other churches) are about as healthy for your church as pre-packaged and microwaved meals (found in freezer aisles and drive-throughs) are for your body.
9. Thirty years ago, every leader was expected to come alongside the senior pastor’s vision. Three generations later, every leader expects to envision alongside the senior pastor.
10. Stepping away from what is apparently urgent allows your team to step into what is actually important.“Stepping away from what is apparently urgent allows your team to step into what is actually important.” — @thebryanrose Click To Tweet
Invest in tomorrow, today
There’s no better time than today to set aside space to dream about a better tomorrow. Getting away will require resources and action, but the effort will be worth every penny and second. Stop imagining what could be and step into what is by conducting a vision planning retreat.
The Auxano team is ready to help you plan for and execute a successful vision planning retreat. This proprietary two-day process delivers proven results, evidenced by almost 20 years of walking alongside church leaders.
Now imagine the feeling of walking into your office after a strategic planning season and leading with the vision clarity that changes everything.
For permission to republish this article, contact Marissa Postell Sullivan.
Bryan is director of communication/marketing and senior lead navigator for Auxano.