How to communicate your vision

by Rick Warren
Many pastors and ministry leaders have exciting, God-honoring visions for what God wants to do through their organizations. But for some reason, their ministry vision is stuck. They've never learned to communicate it to their congregation. Communicating your vision is critical to the success of your ministry. Here are five suggestions for spreading your vision:
1. By personal example. Jesus was the supreme example of that. You must be vulnerable. You've got to let people see you. People need to be able to see your own commitment and see you as a role model. In many ways, you must personify your ministry. The values you're trying to say through the ministry ought to be seen in your life.
Lee Iacocca is also an example of this. He personified the vision of Chrysler. Chrysler was dying until Lee Iacocca took the helm and started putting himself in the ads. All of a sudden you say, "Lee Iacocca is a man of commitment, integrity, vision. I think I'll go buy a Chrysler." He'd basically personified the turn-around. It's like the guy who said about the razor, "I liked it so much, I bought the company." You think, "If that guy believed in it that much, it must be a pretty good razor."
2. By verbal slogans. Let me suggest that you develop particular slogans that apply to your ministry. Every great leader knows the power of a slogan. If you ever heard it, you won't forget Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I have a dream" speech. He talks about little children, black and white, playing together in a world where character is more important than color. "I have a dream" is repeated over and over, and it hits home.
The power of a slogan is very important. People do not remember speeches, and they do not remember sermons. They remember phrases. You need to have phrases that sum up succinctly in a few words what you're trying to do so people can grab onto it.
Franklin D. Roosevelt basically turned the country around from Depression mentality to growth mentality when he said, "There's nothing to fear but fear itself." Kennedy said, "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country."
Those things will live on. Nobody will remember their speeches but they'll remember those phrases. They're short, sweet, and simple. The biggest mistake that people make in ministry is over-verbalizing and telling people too much. Over-verbalizing the purpose of what you want to accomplish.
Here at Saddleback we have dozens of these slogans: "Every member's a minister." That's a little four-word statement that summarizes what we believe about lay ministry. "Pastors are the administers, the people are the ministers." "You can't outgive God." Those are effective slogans. So is the Saddleback mission statement: "A great commitment to the Great Commandment and the Great Commission will produce a great church."
At Saddleback, we talk about our five purposes being to communicate God's message, fellowship with other believers, demonstrate God's love, educate God's people, and celebrate God's presence. Five sentences share what Saddleback is all about. When somebody comes and asks, "Why does your church exist?" I can say it in little sentences.
3. Analogy or metaphor. If you want to communicate the vision for your ministry or the vision of your church, you need to compare it to something that everybody already relates to. How many times did Jesus say in the New Testament, "The kingdom of heaven is like..."? And then he'd give an analogy, a parable or a metaphor. Ronald Reagan was called "The Great Communicator." There's really nothing fancy about the way he communicated. He was simply a master at illustration. He has the ability to take big complex things – talking about the budget deficit so he has a pile of bills on his desk – and he says, "One trillion dollars is a pile as tall as the Empire State building." He used that illustration in his very first budget address. People could relate to that. It was a tangible thing you could tie into.
The Saddleback strategy is based on the baseball diamond, which we teach in C.L.A.S.S. 101. It's something people can grasp onto.
4. Symbolism. Symbolism reaches people on an emotional level rather than on an intellectual level. Phrases and logos and things like that are very important. We used a lot of symbolism in the "Time to Build" campaign.
5. Personal contact. Get one-on-one with key people, the people who give legitimacy to your ministry. Get alone with them. Share the vision with them. Let them catch it from you at a breakfast or a lunch or a dinner or something like that. Then they'll be your key supporters. People are usually down on what they're not up on.