The Negotiables and Non-negotiables of Vision

LeadershipThe process of unpacking vision into a plan is a tricky business.

I love listening to someone passionately expressing a vision, and that’s exactly how vision should be presented. I need to know this idea is from God and someone touched by God is a changed person and that should express itself passionately!

It’s got to be big too. Scary big. A God shaped vision should leave you asking: how in Dickens are we going to do that?!


Unfortunately, this is where the wheels tend to come off. No one seems to know the plan.


In church life, indeed in organisations, I find people come up with incredible ideas and amazing projects that are motivated by a particular need or express a felt desire. Again, this causes much excitement and enthusiasm. If these plans don’t match up to a corporate vision, however, then they will scatter by the wayside and leave another soul confused. And also lacking the confidence to try again.


Here’s my confession. Over the years, I’ve screwed up in both departments. That’s why I get help. Here’s a lesson I learned from my mentor.


The secret lies in figuring out what is negotiable and what must remain unchanged.




Purpose or mission.

Why does the community or organisation exist?

The why question is the clue. Keep asking why until you get to the root.

I want to train some leaders.

That’s a great idea, but why?

Because we are weak in this area.

Why do you need leaders?

Because I want to plant some churches.

Why do you want to plant churches?

And so on…


Slowly we dig down to your mission. Once there, we fix it in stone. For us at One Church, we express it this way: “We are a Christian community that serves.”


Core values.

These are the guiding principles that determine how you do what you do, which are the foundation of our integrity.

This is what makes us distinct. They need to be broad but foundational. They must reflect in every activity of your organisation. Be careful not to swamp yourself with too many to remember. We opted for five…





Connection to the Holy Spirit

Relevance to culture


For further explanation, check out


Now for those things that are allowed to shift. The negotiables.



Pictures of the future that you aspire to.



Needed to achieve or reach this future state.



The routes that you take to achieve the goals and vision.



The things that you will do to travel this route.



How you will organise the people and your resources.



How you will measure your progress.


I encourage you to journey this with your team. It’s tricky and once you start, you’ll understand why most give up! But persevere. The detail guys will want to drag you into the weeds and the visionaries will want to push it into the clouds (which is my problem; I’m renowned for my fluffiness! But hey, one man’s fluff is another man’s future!) but stay on track. It’s worth it.


Lastly, give yourselves permission to get it wrong. Learn from your mistakes and press forwards. Eventually, you will learn a language that will pull your team tighter and with greater purpose. And we now have a plan! That has got to be good, right?


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