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I've enjoyed a few interactions with Jon Tyson over the years, who I met for the first time at Discovery Church in Orlando. Ten years ago he planted Trinity Grace Church in New York City. He tweeted a quote from Church Unique today which led to an audio I discovered of his recent vision Sunday message. If you want to improve your vision casting or plan your own vision Sunday this year, it's worth the time to listen.
Vision Sunday is not Jon's term, but it is the most common way church leaders talk about a special preaching weekend dedicated to addressing the identity and direction of the church. It always signals a pivotal moment: the turning page in the church's history, the re-invogorating of a core ideal or value, an assessment of recent ministry efforts or the dramatic unveiling of a new initiative or dream. For Jon and the people of Trinity Grace, this vision Sunday was a gathering of several multisites or missional community "parishes" to celebrate and recalibrate at the 10-year mark.
Why is it a masterful model of preaching vision on a vision Sunday?
In Church Unique, published in 2008, I teach the six elements of a compelling vision casting moment with a tool called the Vision Casting Spider Diagram. Two of the six the elements are consistently missing when church leaders cast vision: the "burning platform" and the "mind stretch." And, it just so happens, that these two elements are the most critical to achieving the powerful influence of the vision itself.
It's worth listing to the message, to see how Jon injects burning platform content and mind stretching perspective for his congregation at the 10-year mark. Below, you will find a few nuggets. For a full training experience, I suggest that you download the Vision Casting Spider Diagram and listen to Jon's message with your team.
Element #1: Burning Platform - Do I frame the larger need and speak to the fear of loss?
My favorite part of the message is when Jon shares that they have uncovered 49 true conversion stories in a church of 2400 attenders. He boldly declares that a 2% conversion does not reveal the full measure of what the Holy Spirit can do. He says that he is "amazed but not satisfied." Here are some phrases that help paint a picture of need. He could have easily celebrated their success only, but uses the the strong results of a 10-year run to set up the need for revival.
"It's too hard and too much work to do programs for more Christians."
"We have dribs, drabs and a slow grind. We need more of the Spirit not less."
"Our dreams can’t be determined by the plausibility structures of our culture but by the purposes of God in our time."
"What is our response at 10 years in? Repentance. We spend our lives in busy activism, we need to repent of this, we need to repent of the typical New York Christian life."
"We are not satisfied with success in evangelical Christianity."
Element #2: Mind Stretch - Do I enlarge faith and challenge the imagination with audacious God-size goals?
As Jon looks into the future he uses the primary template of what I call "Presence Manifestation" in God Dreams, my most recent book on visionary planning. This is a classic reformed vision of renewal and revival. Jon expresses this beautifully, with power and impact for his time and place. He uses Scripture to paint a picture of the Spirit's role in unifying the body to give us a shared heartbeat (aligning our desires) and a shared mindset (aligning our vision). He uses history to help our minds stretch to see the possible impossibility of "the acceleration of the Spirit's natural work." Specifically, he recounts the Moravian stories as "historical mentors of the church." Listen to some of his mind-stretching ideas (quotes are not exact):
"The motivation for our founding was a longing to see the fame and deeds of God renewed and known in our time."
"When I read my Bible, I realized that this is not the Lord of the Rings, this is TRUE."
"It’s the Spirit’s role to keep us together, to unify us. The Spirit melts us together. It’s the Spirit’s role to convict the world. The Spirit has a capacity to internally convince us."
"The Spirit glorifies Jesus who shows us an alternative way and alternative world. He confounds our understanding of who God is and what he wants to do."
"God wants to do something so spiritually provocative in our time that others will grab the hem of our garments in order to be a part."
I hope you take the time to listen to the message. Remember: most pastors spend more time on preaching in one month than they do on visionary planning in 5 years. Your calling and your people, deserve more.
>> Download the Vision Casting Spider Diagram >>>
>>> Listen to Jon's message with your team >>>