By John Hebert, Louisiana Baptists Missions & Ministry Team Leader
ALEXANDRIA (LBM) – If you have ever searched Google for “things to do in Turkey,” the first result that typically pops up is the Hagia Sophia Museum. Once a Christian cathedral, the Church of the Holy Wisdom, which is now the museum, was built in A.D. 537 and was the center of Christianity in that region for 1,000 years.
Its existence is a testimony to the success of the Christian faith in Asia Minor – which is most of modern-day Turkey – and directly related to the ministry of the Apostle Paul, although he did not visualize such a physical structure.
But he did believe in the power of the Gospel and he foresaw the tremendous potential for the Gospel to grow in Asia Minor, which is why he invested so much of his personal ministry there.
Indeed, conversations about church planting should begin with the Apostle Paul, not because of his special calling, but because of his exceptional skills – especially his remarkable ability to visualize the success of a ministry in a particular place and his exceptional talent in communicating this vision to others in context of the roles they could undertake.
We call this skill, vision capacity. Paul could see hundreds, even thousands, of fellowships scattered across Asia Minor filled with thousands and even tens of thousands of believers, committed to the Lord.
We know that, because that is exactly what resulted from his efforts.
But vision capacity is more complicated than just having a dream, it also includes dream building which is a function of creating.
To create, one must know where to start; and, starting is about initiative. Those who possess this skill may be known because they began a successful business, or a school club, or a new Sunday school class, or, perhaps a church ministry.
Importantly, vision capacity also means that someone understands the vision so completely – the biblical term is “with such authority” – that they are able to communicate that vision to others. They are able to explain the future in context of the vision and so are able to mobilize others to be fellow laborers.
Paul also possessed this element of vision capacity.
He was able to engage the efforts of others, like John Mark, Timothy, and Luke the physician, because of it. Indeed, they were just a few of the numbers of leaders Paul pulled into service with his vision – at the end of each of his epistles he even gives a glimpse of the ever-growing entourage of co-laborers who had joined him.
To some, vision capacity is something of a natural ability – in other words, they were successfully shaped by the circumstances of life to develop these highly valued skills.
To others it’s more of a learned skill, in that they did not have the advantage of situational opportunities to grow these capacities. But, they recognize the need to possess them, and so seek the knowledge and experience to fill the skill gaps.
My best advice to anyone who wants to learn vision capacity is: Experience is the best teacher, so start something!
But, others can help you learn where to begin.
Indeed, it has been my experience that walking through the process of starting something new with an experienced builder/starter is worth its weight in gold.
On that note, this summer the Church Planting team of our Convention began holding conferences around the state called “Start Something Roundtables,” where ideas and techniques are shared by those who have successfully started ministries, bible studies and even churches. So, plan to join us at one of the roundtables from now through February 2020 (visit www.LouisianaBaptist.org/compassion for the schedule). You will learn that you don’t start out attempting to build the Hagia Sofia. Instead, you should start with something simple, and make it successful. Then the next steps for growth will fall into place.
After you master your vision, you will be able to speak about it with authority to others, helping them to see the same vision that captured you. This enables you and your team to deal with obstacles and successfully confront any negatives that must be overcome. You will see that mobilizing financial resources and coping with vision busters (sometimes people) is as easy as staying focused on the vision and clearly communicating it to others. It’s the small parts that make up the whole.
Those who start something successful are not just lucky, they have vision capacity; and, they are diligent to see their vision become a reality by bringing others along in pursuit of that vision.