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In three decades of ministry, I have met many pastors who have great ideas and big plans and wonderful dreams, but they never see any results because no one else ever catches the vision.

You will never see your vision become a reality unless you can communicate it to others, and in order to do that you must answer seven key questions:
  1. You have to answer the most basic of all questions: Who are we? Whatever your field of ministry, the question is the same: Why do we exist? What is our identity?

    That's the first question to answer, and your answer needs to revolve around the five purposes God has for your ministry's existence (worship, fellowship, discipleship, ministry, missions).
  2. You have to let people know where you're going. Leadership is influence, and the quickest way to tell if you're a leader or not is to look over your shoulder. If somebody's following you, you're a leader. If nobody's following you, you're not the leader. It's that simple.

    Leadership is knowing where you're going and being able to persuade people to come along with you. That's influence. If you don't know where you're going, nobody's going to follow you.
  3. You have to let people know why where you are going matters. You have to answer the question, "Why are we going there?" In other words, you need to let people know why you do what you do. That's very important. They won't follow unless they believe the destination is worth reaching.
  4. The fourth question you have to answer is, "What does it feel like to be going there?" People want to be in on fun; they don't want to be left out. So you need to communicate the great feeling of being involved in a significant ministry.

    People are looking for significance. When you can communicate to them that what they're doing is part of the kingdom of God, then you'll have people coming to you asking to get involved. You need to tell them, "It's a great way to invest your life, and it's fun and fulfilling."
  5. The fifth question becomes more personal for your congregation: What can they do? In other words, you need to show every individual how he or she can own a part of your particular ministry.

    It's like a symphony where everybody plays his or her part. They each may play different notes, but when it all blends together, it creates beautiful music.

    A great leader has the knack of helping people see how the part they play fits into the whole, and how their contribution helps the overall vision. You must affirm people, believe in them, and put faith and trust in them.
  6. You need to tell people how you're going to do your vision. How are you going to get this done? People want to know. What's the specific strategy? One of the most important things here is to communicate cooperation. "We all have to do this thing together. We can't be heading off into different directions."
  7. Finally, you must answer the unstated question everyone asks: What are the rewards? Whenever you're trying to recruit somebody for some kind of ministry, it's always important to explain the benefits to them personally. In ministry, the emotional benefit is paramount. How will they feel by getting involved? What is the reward for achieving the goal?

    As Christians we've got the ultimate reward. Someday I just want to stand before the Lord and hear Him say, "Well done, good and faithful servant." That will make up for everything that I've done and given. When people understand that, they get an eternal vision, and it's much easier to stay motivated.
These are some things you should try in communicating your vision, but now let me give you some ideas on how to do it:

Personal Example
In the late seventies and early eighties, Lee Iacocca personified the vision of Chrysler. Chrysler was dying until Lee Iacocca took the helm and started putting himself in the ads.

Suddenly, people were saying, "Lee Iacocca is a man of commitment, integrity, and vision. I think I'll go buy a Chrysler." He personified the turn-around of the Chrysler Corporation.

It's like the guy who said about a razor, "I liked it so much, I bought the company." He personified the company. People thought, "If that guy believed in it that much, it must be a pretty good razor."

You have to set the same example. Jesus did, and we must as well.

Simplify The Message
People do not remember speeches, and they do not remember sermons. But they DO remember phrases. You need to have phrases that sum up succinctly what you're trying to do so people can grab hold of the vision.

Franklin D. Roosevelt turned the U.S. from a Depression-mentality to a growth-mentality when he said, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself."

John Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

Those phrases will live on. Think about it: few people remember the speeches that introduced those "slogans," yet they remember the phrases.

At Saddleback, we have dozens of these slogans. For instance, "Every member is a minister." That little five-word statement summarizes what we believe about lay ministry. It's short and sweet and simple and memorable.

Analogy Or Metaphor
If you want to communicate the vision for your ministry, you need to compare it to something that everybody already relates to. How many times did Jesus say in the New Testament, "The kingdom of heaven is like...?" And then He'd give an analogy, a parable, or a metaphor.

Ronald Reagan was called "The Great Communicator." There was nothing fancy about the way he communicated; he was simply a master at illustration. He had the ability to take big complex things and make them come alive.

In his first budget address, he talked about the budget deficit by piling dollar bills on his desk. Then he said, "One trillion dollars is a pile as tall as the Empire State building." People could relate to that because it was tangible and they were able to visualize it.

Personal Contact
Get one-on-one with key people—those legitimizers—the people who give legitimacy to your ministry. Get alone with them and share your vision. Let them catch it from you at a breakfast, or a lunch, or a dinner, or just over coffee.

Then they'll become your key supporters. People are usually down on what they're not up on.

May God give you a vision that far surpasses anything you could do without Him:
But these things [God planned] won't happen right away. Slowly, steadily, surely, the time approaches when the vision will be fulfilled. If it seems slow, wait patiently, for it will surely take place. It will not be delayed.
(Hab. 2:3 NLT)
This article is used by permission from
Rick Warren's Ministry ToolBox by Rick Warren.
More information available at

Author Biography

Rick Warren
Web site:
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California. Beginning with just his wife, Kay, in 1980, the congregation now averages 22,000 attendees at its 5 weekend services.

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