Vision casting for multiplication paints a picture of possibilities that can occur, by God’s grace. Vision casting for multiplication allows each member of the church, with their diversity of gifts, personalities, interests, and talents to “see” where they can fit in and be a part of carrying out the vision. Effective vision casting causes people to say, “Yes, by the power of the Holy Spirit, I can see our church, in general, being involved in church multiplication, and I can see myself, in particular, being involved in that process.”
Steps Involved in the Process
The following are some of the important steps to work through in the process of casting a vision for church multiplication.
Assuming that the vision from the Lord has been received, the vision must now be cast before the people. The first step in the vision casting process is to pray. Pray that as the vision is cast before the people they will be receptive to that vision. Pray that God would be glorified in the vision casting process. Pray that ungodly conflict related to the vision will never exist. Pray for spiritual protection for both you and the hearers. Pray that God will give you the necessary wisdom along the way to draw out that vision within your heart.
Pray for patience as you cast the vision before the people. Just as the Lord was gracious to allow you to have the time to mull over the vision for multiplication, likewise you need to extend the grace to the people and allow them the time to reflect, discuss, and pray over the vision that you set before them. It is unfair and selfish to have grasped the vision over a period of weeks, months, or even years, and then expect others to grasp the vision within minutes or hours.
Understand what “Communicates” with Your People
Understand the people to whom the vision is being cast. Who are these people? What do they like and dislike? What are their educational levels? What are their backgrounds? An intimate knowledge of the people provides the vision caster with a better foundation on which to contextualize the vision for the people. For example, knowing that a group of individuals grasp ideas better through interpersonal communication rather than through a lecture, will affect the way one casts a vision to the people.
Know the Possibilities
Part of the vision casting process includes educating oneself and the church to what the Spirit has shown both historically and in contemporary societies, to be a multiplicative-growth possibility. People need to know and to see what the Spirit has done and continues to do through His churches. Begin this step with a study of the Scriptures. As you study, constantly ask the following questions: What was the role of the Spirit in the Apostolic Church? What did the Spirit enable the believers to accomplish in regard to a disciple-making movement? What was required of the believers to be used by the Spirit in such a movement of churches that planted churches that planted churches across the known world?
Take some time to examine what the Spirit has done throughout Church history during the times in which rapid disciple-making occurred resulting in the planting of numerous churches. A brief study of the Moravians, early Methodists and Baptists, and Pentecostals would be very helpful, even if one does not agree entirely with their theologies.
Examine what the Spirit is currently doing among churches throughout the world in what is commonly referred to as church planting movements. In many countries, the Church is witnessing an extremely rapid rate of reproduction in which churches are planting churches through evangelism that is primarily carried out by non-professional clergy. We are hearing of a handful churches multiplying into scores of churches with hundreds of new believers, all within a few years.
Compare your biblical study with the church planting movements that have occurred since the days of the Apostles. What characteristics of the rapid growth of the Apostolic Church can be found in the times of rapid growth of the Church throughout history? What were the understandings of the nature of the Church and the nature of church leadership among the believers in the Scriptures and among the believers who have participated in church planting movements throughout history?
Recognize the Barriers
Recognition of the barriers to church multiplication must be taken into consideration both before the vision is cast and during the vision casting process. The Lord may provide the vision, but we may hinder the fulfillment of that vision by allowing our cultural expectations to overrule the vision. When God speaks, we must always allow our traditions to bow to His Lordship.
Since church multiplication is such a foreign concept to some, cultural barriers must be understood and overcome before an effective vision can be cast and appropriated by the people. In all likelihood, most established churches that have been in existence for years will not be able to overcome the cultural barriers hindering church multiplication movements; however, those churches can understand the barriers are present and do all they can to work to plant churches that are not encased in the cultural barriers from the very beginning.
One common barrier is that of accommodation. For example, many North American churches are built upon foundations that are a blend of biblical principles and Western ideologies such as, individualism, institutionalism, pragmatism, professionalism, a bigger-is-better mentality, and a “no money, no movement” perspective. This accommodation to Western culture is unhealthy for our churches in general, and for church multiplication in particular. If we have been involved in a church that has accommodated itself to the culture to an unhealthy degree, then it will be difficult for us to grasp a vision of planting churches different from our past and present experiences.
One way to work with your people in overcoming an unhealthy understanding of the church is to conduct a study of what the Bible says is the church. In examining passages throughout the New Testament, ask the following questions: In what ways were the early believers required to be different from their cultures to be followers of Jesus and thus a part of the Church? How much of our current understanding and practices of the church are solely our culture, and how much of our current understanding and practices of the church are biblical? Are there any elements in our cultural understanding of the church that hinder the natural expansion of our church through church planting? What are the most basic requirements for the church to exist in any culture and in any time throughout the world; do we desire to plant this understanding of the church, or are we trying to clone our cultural understanding of church among the people we desire to reach with the gospel? Are we trying to plant churches that accommodate to the unbelievers’ culture at the sacrifice of the biblical elements necessary for a reproducing congregation?
Another common barrier is maintaining a poor definition of leadership. For example, many North American churches have a very unhealthy understanding of church leadership. In most cases, we define leadership in terms of academic achievements and popularity, instead of defining leadership according to the biblical guidelines; we tend to define leadership in a very narrow and exclusive sense. Ask yourself, how many of the biblical guidelines for overseers are related to academic achievement, including the ability to teach and exhort from the Scriptures? How many of the qualifications for leadership are related to character, moral, ethical, and familial areas that can only be known by the congregation as they have spent time with the potential leaders? An unhealthy understanding of leadership hinders the possibility of church multiplication.
A third barrier to overcome is holding to a shallow understanding of the power of the Holy Spirit to seal, sanctify, and empower new churches. Many missionaries have a tendency to keep a heavy hand on new believers, as if they cannot be the church from the very moment when they come together as a baptized body of regenerate individuals. The Apostle had such a missionary faith in the power of the Holy Spirit at work in the lives of the new believers that he could spend a short time with the people, and travel on to preach the gospel and plant other churches.
A fourth barrier to overcome to be effective in casting a vision for multiplication, is to understand that in most cases whenever church planting methods and new churches are dependent upon large amounts of finances and a great deal of resources from outside sources, multiplication is hindered. Whenever new believers in new churches are taught to depend upon a source necessary for their existence as a church, outside of the Holy Spirit working through them, they develop a mentality that hinders rapid multiplication.
A fifth barrier that must be overcome is the belief that churches should not and cannot send out missionary teams that follow after the practice of the Apostle Paul. It has been said that we fail in missionary work in exactly the areas in which the Apostle Paul succeeded. There should be an expectation for church planting teams that will evangelize unbelievers, congregationalize the new believers, raise up leaders from the new church, and then repeat the process.
The sixth barrier to overcome is that of cultural blindness. Even if the lost population to which I feel called to plant a church speaks the same language, is of the same ethnicity, wears similar clothing, lives in the same community, and is in the same socio-economic bracket as myself, I should not assume that we have similar worldviews. I should not assume that the methodologies used to reach me with the gospel, and the culture of church to which I am the most comfortable will be the necessary methodologies and culture of church that will connect with those unbelievers.
Communicate the Vision Redundantly
Rick Warren recommends restating the vision every twenty-six days. Begin with the church’s leadership. If the leaders of the church are not behind the vision and willing to work to fulfill the vision, then it is highly unlikely that the rest of the church will be supportive of the vision. As much as possible, keep the vision before the leaders and equip them to keep the vision before the rest of the church. Develop creative ways to communicate the vision to the leadership and the entire church. Take your leaders on a weekend retreat to spend time in prayer, bible study, and discussion concerning the vision. Make the vision a part of your sermons, classes, bulletins, home gatherings, newsletters, and casual conversations with the church.
This post first appeared as a portion of a larger article in the Journal of The American Society for Church Growth, Volume 16, Fall 2005, pgs. 35-42.
(Image Credit: Fotolia, Microsoft Office)
 Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church: Growth Without Compromising Your Mission (Grand Rapids,
MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995), 111.