“Where there is no vision, the people perish; but happy is he who keeps the teaching.”
Proverbs 29:18 MEV
These are strong words! Vision is vitally important in our lives and our churches. Without a strong vision, we tend to flounder, lose purpose, and ultimately be led astray.
What exactly is a vision?
I like the way Andy Stanley defines vision. He says, “Vision is a mental picture of what could be, fueled by a passion that it should be.”
Vision is all about seeing the “preferred future.” It helps us to be able to set a course for all of our future actions.
Where do we find vision?
Ultimately, it is God-given. People find it in different ways. People either find vision through seeking something better, from a growing discontentment with the current state of things, as a solution to a problem or injustice or through a miraculous revelation from God.
How is mission different than vision?
Vision is all about where we are going. It is the north star that sets our course. It is the future preferred reality. It tends to be BIG and Inspirational in nature.
The mission is all about how we are getting there. It takes our heads out of the clouds and puts our feet back on the ground and gets us moving in the right direction. Its focus is on the present. It is the smaller practical steps that get us to the BIG future goal.
Vision and mission statements can be seen in every sector of life. Below are a few different examples.
Vision: To provide access to the world’s information in one click
Mission: To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful
Vision: To glorify God by being a faithful steward of all that is entrusted to us. To have a positive influence on all who come in contact with Chick-fil-A.
Mission: To be America’s best quick-service restaurant at winning and keeping customers
First Christian Church, Canton, Ohio
Vision: Jesus for ALL people
Mission: Reach out in unconditional love to all people and grow followers of Jesus
Successful individuals, companies, and churches not only rely on their vision and mission but they fight for it! Why? Because without it people get off course. Decision-making becomes difficult. Employees become divided and territorial. With it, everyone is pulling in the same direction. Everyone clear in decision-making. Everyone stays united centered on achieving a shared goal.
Do vision and mission apply to Disability Ministry too?
If what drives you to start a disability ministry sounds like any of the following reasons I’d argue that your efforts will be short-lived.
- Because it seems like the right thing to do
- Because the big church in our community is doing it
- Because a family threatened to leave if we didn’t start one
Now consider if your disability ministry was birthed from a strong God-given vision. What would that look like? Here are a few examples.
- The disability ministry of ___________ will eliminate the epidemic of isolation in our community.
- The disability ministry of ___________ exists to facilitate full inclusion in the life of our church for the individual affected by disability and their family.
- The disability ministry of ___________ exists to connect individuals affected by disability and their families to Jesus.
- The disability ministry of ____________ seeks to inspire, train, and mobilize those affected by disability to serve God and their community.
Disability Ministry birthed from a clear vision and driven by the mission will always be more effective and have more staying power.
So what should the vision of a Disability Ministry be?
Let me answer that question with a question.
What is the purpose that God has for the Church?
God doesn’t see people that are affected by disability in a different light than others. He doesn’t pity them He doesn’t see them as lesser. He doesn’t see them as people who should be only the recipients of ministry efforts.
God sees people affected by disability as people who have a divine purpose. He sees them as people who are indispensable to the church. He sees them as the Church.
So with that frame of reference what is a good vision for the Disability Ministry of a church?
I say we start with what God’s purpose for the Church is.
Ephesians 4:12 makes this clear. “Their responsibility is to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ.”
There is no asterisk or exception for people with IQ scores under 70 or with any other disability. God’s purpose for all is the same. Knowing that I would propose this for the vision of any healthy and growing disability ministry.
Vision: Equipping people of all abilities to know, grow, and show God’s love.
So the preferred future reality is one where ALL people would grow in their knowledge of how much God loves them. They would be growing in their relationships with others. They would be empowered to make a difference by sharing God’s love with the world.
Now to the mission. The vision is the future. The mission is how we get there.
Mission: Connecting people of all abilities to Christ, to each other, and their communities.
Let me break that out for you and connect it back to the vision statement.
- Connected to Christ (Know)
- Connected to each other (Grow)
- Connected in community (Show)
Ultimately you will need to seek out guidance from the Holy Spirit on the vision and mission for your disability ministry. It is my hope, however, that this can be a good foundation to build off of. It may be that God is speaking to you through one of the examples from above. You could run with that! Or you could be challenged to craft your own using some of the guiding principles from above. Whatever direction God leads you to allow that to be your north star, your guiding light that drives all your decision-making.