Dream Again – Testing the Vision

A vision should be tested, evaluated, shared with people who will be honest with you regarding their thoughts. If you are not willing to share your vision for evaluation and counsel, you have probably not heard from God.

After three years of thinking and praying, I shared with Becky one morning what was on my mind. Now to fully appreciate this, I share with her my thoughts, quickly and easily. For two reasons she is smart, savvy and will always be honest with me about her opinions. By 2009 Detroit was in a full blown recession. Industry was leaving the state, jobs were gone that would not be coming back, and the housing market had collapsed. Our community was hit hard. Frankly, I had been fielding a lot of calls from frightened business people, retirees, investors and people who had lost their jobs. A couple of our bankers had called asking for prayer. One of them told me how important she felt like our work in the community was. Becky knew all of this and she had helped me pray and talk with some of these couples. She knew that their was a palatable sense of fear in our community.

She candidly said, “If God hasn’t spoken to you this is foolish, but if He has you really don’t have a choice.” Oh, and then she gave me a big kiss. I told you I like to share my thoughts with her quickly! 🙂

Faith isn’t ignoring the challenges, obstacles or even being numb to the feelings of fear. Faith overcomes the fear, the obstacle and trusts in the unseen hand of God and His power working in us and through us to achieve His will. Of course the question was would our board and congregation have buy in. This is a necessary step in testing a vision.

Our board entertained the idea and gave me good counsel and then encouraged me to continue to follow through on the idea by talking with people who could help us. Their input was positive but their questions were thoughtful and direct. My staff surprised me with their enthusiasm. Of course to be frank everyone on our board and staff have a heart for ministry or they wouldn’t be there.

After seeking counsel from others who had experienced stewardship development and interviewing some organizations that I felt like could help us, my faith really began to increase. I knew then that it had to shared with our congregation.

Every tough question we were asked, we were able to answer or find an answer to. Three years is a long time to pray, think, keep quiet and journal your thoughts. The timing might appear to be wrong in normal situations but for us this was the right time.

There were lots of questions. Good questions like why do you think we should do this? Why is this the right time? What is the time frame? How will the money be used? How many volunteers will be required? How do you see it working? What is going to be necessary? Do you have the time and energy to see this through? How will we measure success? Will this impact our operating budget? Our current ministries? How will you cast the vision? How long will it take? What is your staff’s involvement? The board’s involvement? The congregation’s involvement? If it fails, will it make you want to resign? The questions were good and they just kept coming in meetings, in an email, during a phone conversation, over lunch at many more at our local Starbucks.

Two conversations are particularly memorable to me. One was from a man that I had led to Christ, who told me he thought the timing was awful. Further he thought that it would be asking to much of people during this recession. He has grown up here and knows how cyclical the area’s economy can be. And we’ve never had a recession like this one. A few weeks later he would come back to tell me, that he prayed about it and thought about it and believed I was doing the right thing and I could count on him. I was so proud of him and he was a huge help and donor.

The other conversation was from a man with a heart for missions but he told me, he didn’t feel like he could help with this project. He wanted to know if I would be angry at him if he didn’t participate. Of course not I assured him. I hoped that he would change his mind, but if he didn’t, that was okay to. I loved him and believed him. His decision was between him and God.

No one was going to be manipulated or guilted into this. Since God loves a cheerful giver, we wanted people to give cheerfully without givers remorse. That led to a huge decision on how I would cast this vision. That decision and those two conversations would prove to be providential all along the way especially in the waning months of Dream Again!

But at the moment, there was huge momentum and excitement among our leadership team.

Tomorrow – Casting the Vision!

Peace and Joy!

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