Whether you lead a small group of 5 people, a ministry of 500 you need a vision – a sense of where God is leading the group.
According to the Bible, this is a pretty important part of leadership: Proverbs 29:18 teaches that where there is no prophetic revelation of God (vision) His people fall into disarray. So what is vision? In this episode, Rich Wilson (team leader at Fusion) defines vision a glimpse of the big picture of what God is bringing to pass in the word. You can listen to the full interview here on iTunes, Stichter, or wherever you get your podcasts.
One question I ask Rich is what to do when you can’t see this little bit of the big picture? Rich’s suggestion: to get around others who can. Here are 4 ways to do that (and +1 suggestion to the contrary).
5 ways to see the bigger picture
1) Worship and pray with those you’re leading
It’s easy to feel like you, as the leader, have to have the answers. And to some extent this is true – it’s ultimately up to you to take the first step in the direction that you set. But in many other ways, it’s completely false. By worshipping and praying with your small group or key leaders in your student ministry, and then listening to the common themes that come out, you have the opportunity to get the prophetic wisdom of the room.
Do you (as a student movement) find yourselves praying for/about recurring topics when you meet to pray together? Perhaps that is the direction that God is leading the wider ministry or small group.
2) Pray into with the wider church vision
Chances are your church has a vision or a mission statement. At The Belfrey our’s is ‘Serving God’s transformation of the North’. So when I was first trying to work out what God was saying about our student ministry that statement was the starting point: ‘Father, how can Belfrey Students play our part in serving God’s transformation of the North?’.
You don’t always need to re-invent the wheel. Get in line with your church vision statement, and ask God for the prophetic revelation of how you can play your part as you serve someone else’s vision.
3) Get some external input
Sometimes it’s pretty hard to see the big picture when you’re around the same group of people week in, week out. Fusion have relaunched their Student Ministry Training Days, and (if the Firebrands conference is anything to go on) they will be excellent. You can get more information here.
Not only does this help to get input on best practice, but it’s also great to hear what is going on nationally with students – which Fusion are really good at communicating.
4) Road trip to another church
I often hang out with other great student workers – preferably at their church. This is great for nicking their best ideas (which are, frankly, fair game as far as I’m concerned) but more importantly, it opens your eyes up to what God might be doing with your students that is only in its rudimentary stages but more developed elsewhere.
Let me give you an example: when I visited Kings Church Durham and chatted with Chris Morgan, I saw that they have an amazing mission week at the end of the year. Stealing this ideal would have been great, but better was hearing the story behind how their mission week started (with a desire in the student ministry to bless the city) that was something I can see in a couple our students.
Sure, our students only seem to be at the very early stages of discerning this call, but seeing it lived out more fully in Durham helped give me a sense of where it might be going.
Why not hang out with other great student workers, either in your city or elsewhere?
5) Get away from people
So this is the absolute opposite from the other four suggestions, but sometimes what is needed in actually to get away from people – to retreat. We see Jesus doing this (Mark 6: 45-47) mainly to spend time with His Father (i.e, separate from His ministry) but we can also apply this vision.
Getting out of the normal leadership and work environment is essential for any leader. Whether that is out of the office and into a coffee shop, out of the city and into the countryside, or out of the country altogether (as Rich Wilson did – check out the interview), it’s good to get away. By so doing we turn and focus our attention solely on God, and look across to the ministry or small group we lead with an external, heavenly perspective.
To hear Rich’s story about this, listen to the full interview:
Resources from this Episode
GradDip in Kingdom Theology and Student Ministry (scroll half way down to order a prospectus)
For more great resources check out our latest blog post on the best blogs & books from September ’18.