has struggled to remain relevant in changing times. George Barna presents his book in an attempt to refocus the church on the power and need for vision today and for the future. It is in his book that Barna lays out detailed information of how to put a vision together for a local church and the steps and issues that will present themselves as the vision is put in place in the local church. Barna suggests in his opening words that this book flowed out of him as if coming straight from the Lord and as such he was proud of it. Having read the book, I would tend to agree as Barna dissects vision and then piece by piece puts it back together by the end of the book.
In preparing a vision, Barna takes times to point out the differences in a vision statement and a mission statement. In short, a mission statement is the heart of the church. It defines what the church is about. It states what the church wants to be known for and what it desires to accomplish.The vision statement however builds on the mission statement. Barna states that
the vision statement is the legs of the mission statement. Therefore, vision statements allow
those who know the mission of a church to then understand how the mission will be
accomplished. A mission statement is certainly not generic, but is definitely more concise and
collective when compared to a vision statement. A vision statement targets an audience and
paints a clear direction for future progress. Vision statements allow churches to establish filters
by which they can determine what possibilities in ministry are suitable for their efforts and
energy. Mission statements may have elements synonymous with vision statements, but vision
statements provide specific plans and objectives which formed together can help a church
becomes excited and unified to accomplish ministry.
individuals have developed visions only to watch them die or be suffocated by intense fighting
and stress. Barna shines a light on these and names them. He identifies these killers as tradition,
fear, stereotypes, complacency, and fatigue. Many churches find themselves doing the same
things due to a desire to maintain a tradition that was started years earlier. Barna suggests that
tradition in itself is not bad. It becomes bad however when it prevents God’s vision for the
church and people to go forth. Fear of course has a way of paralyzing vision as some will insist
that the expectations of the vision are too risky or have never been done before. Here it is made
clear that change of any kind can certainly produce a heightened level of fear in a congregation.
Stereotypes may also hinder a vision as a church or pastor decides without proper research or
data what is probably desires or expected based on age or social norms. Complacency and
fatigue are major contributors to the death of vision as well. Complacent churches will not
accept a vision for they do not see the need in it. Until something happens to unseat their
comfort, a complacent church will brisk at the notion of change or progress. Sometimes
complacency sets in due to fatigue. When fatigue sets in, vision can be stopped in its tracks. Burn out is a very real experience for many pastors and laypeople and needs to be protected against. Barna does a tremendous job at offering a discourse on the need for rest and the ultimate design for rest by God for His people.