Preaching Through A Vision Series, A Faithful & Fruitful Podcast

Written by Dave Shrein

Preaching Through A Vision Sermon Series

When you’re preaching through a vision sermon series how do you know if the people are ‘getting it’? Whether you’re preaching for two weeks, four weeks, or more on the mission, vision, and values of your church, how do you know if what you’re sharing from the pulpit is going to make a difference in how your church functions as a community and in the lives of the people listening?

As nice as it is to hear people say, “What a great sermon, pastor,” what you’re really interested in is life change. What you really want is numerical growth in your programs, spiritual growth in your people, and capacity growth in your key leaders. 

One of the best ways to see the change you want is to speak to the change you want to see. In other words, if you want to see more people serving, paint a vision of what serving looks like and what it produces. If you want to see people praying more, paint a vision of what a life of prayer looks like. If you want to see people reading the Bible more regularly, provide a vision of how many people experience the Bible day in and day out.

Think about it this way: a financial company could market their services using charts, graphs, and numbers. But instead of relying on dry analytics, what if they cast a vision of how well-managed accounts can lead to incredible experiences with your family? You could build a pool for your kids or take them on a trip to Europe during Spring Break.

Your challenge is not just how do we communicate what’s true, but also how do we cast a vision for something that’s compelling.

While there isn’t a single “right” way to preach a vision sermon series, there are insights and best practices that can help you effectively communicate your message. In this article, derived from the Preaching Through Podcast: Preaching Through A Vision Series, we aim to provide you with valuable tips and strategies to consider before stepping into the pulpit.

Types of Vision Sermons and Vision Series

“Vision” is a bit of a buzzword in ministry. Its something that gets talked about quite a bit but what does it actually mean?
For the purpose of this article we’re going to borrow the definition proposed by ChurchTrac:

A church vision statement is an articulation of a church’s ambition. It is a clear and concise declaration of the desired change resulting from the work they do.

The first layer of the vision is the mission that Jesus gave to his church:

16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

Matthew 28:16-20

This is a non-negotiable mission given directly by Jesus to his followers and it is not up for debate or alteration.

The second layer of the vision is a unique calling by which the Great Commission will be fulfilled through your church and your people. Author Will Mancini dedicated an entire book, Church Unique: How Missional Leaders Cast Vision, Capture Culture, and Create Movement to exploring and explaining this second layer of vision.

This second layer is where you get to decide the means your church will adopt, based upon the uniqueness of your context, to fulfill the Great Commission. There isn’t a hard and fast rule for how often this vision should change, but we’ll say here, not often. It is at this level your vision guides hiring, programming, assimilation, spiritual formation, and philosophy of worship. All of these things are performed in alignment with the unique vision you’ve adopted. 

The third layer of vision doesn’t involve changing the church’s overall vision or ministry strategy. Instead, it focuses on defining how the church intends to live out its vision in the context of current circumstances, resources, opportunities, and challenges.

This third layer is the primary focus of our article.

You may be preaching a vision series to drive an initiative forward, seize a unique opportunity, or address specific challenges facing your church. A vision series can also be used to introduce changes to your church structure or staffing. If you’re embarking on a new building or land campaign, a vision series is undoubtedly appropriate to articulate how the realization of that vision will propel the church closer to living out its unique calling and fulfilling the Great Commission.

Certainly, churches may adopt other structures or strategies for the concept of vision. However, we hope this approach provides a clear framework for making the content in this article both relevant and beneficial to your ministry.

The Audience for Your Vision Sermon Series

Every sermon you preach is another opportunity for God to use your words to facilitate a ‘lightbulb’ moment in someone else’s life. You get to see them experience something about God’s Word in a new and fresh way and it’s incredibly exciting.

But there is a bigger opportunity that exists in every single message you preach… not just church vision sermons.

Preachers have the unique opportunity to lead the people through the preaching moment. And while this opportunity exists every week, the heart of a vision sermon series is actually to provide leadership to the people through the individual sermons. It’s not about “how do I communicate something” one time in a message, but rather, “How do I move someone to somewhere?”

When you think about your vision sermons through that lens, there are a few different people you need to be cognizant of.

The Preacher

Are you bought into this vision? If someone were to “cut you,” would you bleed this vision out? If you were jolted awake at 3am and pressed to share the vision, would it be readily accessible to your memory or would you have to think about it for a few moments?

People can tell whether the person communicating the vision actually believes in the vision. In fact, they may actually think, “You know, I don’t know that I am all in on that, but I can tell that he is.”

The preacher… the pastor… the leader needs to be all in on the vision in order for the sermon series to be effective.

The Stakeholders

Maybe you call these people your core, maybe you call them your high-capacity volunteers, maybe its staff, elders, deacons, or the board. Whoever it is, these are the people who, without them on board and their buy-in, the vision will not move.

As much as the stakeholders are the people who are going to help you mobilize the vision, they’re also the ones who are often contributing to the culture of the church, influencing the direction of ministry, and they’re bought-in to the point that their individual voices have influence in many areas of ministry, even if it’s unofficial or informal.

You want to bring these core people into the loop, reveal some of the vision you’re working through and discover what resonates with them. Ask them “what connects with you?” and then give them time to process and even an invitation to pray through what you’ve shared. 

These are the people who will ultimately carry out the vision and they will also need the ability to explain the vision as they invite other people to be a part of the vision, too. There will be plenty of people in the church who won’t necessarily be bought in and they’re not going to take their skepticism to the pastor — but they will take it to their small group leader or the person they serve with or connect with as a volunteer.

If these stakeholders can understand it, articulate it, and advocate for it, that will go a long way in mobilizing more people behind the mission. 

The Average Attendee

A third group to consider is the average attendee. Maybe they’re on the periphery and not quite moved into the core, but they’re regular attenders. They don’t necessarily own any part of the ministry or discipleship strategy of the church. Perhaps they give and they are faithful attendees, but they’re not quite bought into the church vision beyond Sundays.

Many of the people at your church were once in this average attender group and then something changed. There was something that compelled them to take a next step and begin serving or learning or leading a small group. 

Every sermon offers an opportunity to bring God’s Word to life through illustrations, scripture, argumentation, and whatever work the Holy Spirit chooses to do. When you’re preaching vision, there is an elevated sense of importance and therefore, elevated opportunity to move people. Your series may be the moment in someone’s church experience where they finally make that move from attendee to core member.


Anytime we’re preaching we always want to have guests in mind. In fact, there will almost certainly be guests who visit for the first time on a Sunday when you’re rolling out a new vision or the latest iteration of your church’s growing vision. 

Guests know very little about the church (typically), but what they experience in the preaching moment will hopefully tell them something about the church that might intrigue them, interest them, and encourage them to come back for another visit.

Dave Shrein & Luke Simmons (co-hosts of Preaching Through Podcast) are a part of Ironwood Church in Mesa, Arizona. Ironwood recently changed it’s name, organizational structure, and Luke preached the first message in a two-part vision sermon series. This is a video of that first message and Luke’s approach to casting vision in the circumstances. 

Preaching A Vision That Is Authentic to You

There are a lot of really cool visions, different approaches, and dreams for ministry and you can think to yourself, “Wow, that is really great… but that ain’t me.” 

One of the temptations that exists today because of how readily information is accessible — and not just accessible, but marketed — is for a pastor to echo back something that they have heard from somewhere else.

“We want to create a church where unchurched people love to attend.”

“We want to help people know, grow, and go.”

“A safe place to visit. A dangerous place to stay.”

But is that really you? Is that really core to who you are?

It’s very easy to recognize visions / missions that sound good and have a strong appeal, and it’s easy to be drawn into something that is compelling on one hand while not being personal on the other. 

We get a picture in scripture of what it looks like to put on something that belongs to someone else. Consider David when he puts on all of Saul’s armor. Instead of providing protection, it proves to be clunky and awkward to wear. In the end David would forgo wearing someone else’s armor in favor of a sling and stones, something that was more natural to him.

It is tempting when you go to a conference or read a book or go through a training program and witness someone who is smart, experienced, and passionate share their vision and adopt that vision as your own.

In the end, without a vision that is authentic to the leader, vision becomes a yearly activity and the people in your church will subconsciously (or consciously) begin to think, “Okay, I can tell pastor went to a conference because here is the new thing.”

If the mission isn’t really in the leader, it’s going to be really hard to lead people with authenticity. 

Preaching A Vision That Is Simple

One of the reasons it is so tempting to adopt someone else’s mission and vision is because crafting and expressing a compelling yet simple vision is taxing work.

It’s really difficult.

It is arduous and strenuous.

It requires high levels of focus and often extended periods of discussion with many disagreements and can even become somewhat discouraging when it doesn’t seem like the vision is becoming any clearer.

But identifying and putting definition to a compelling vision is possible, and words play a huge role in the process.

When you step into the pulpit to preach a vision message, you want that message to be as simple and understandable as possible and the only way to get there is to sort through, suggest, veto, arrange, and critique as many words as possible.

The goal isn’t to add more and more words to the vision, but rather, to take each word under the microscope and evaluate, “what does this really mean” and “does this really belong here” and “does this communicate what we’re trying to say?”

When you can begin to speak the language in such a way that it rolls off your tongue and it feels like you’re giving words to something that could previously only be articulated through experience, you’re starting to land on language that will be simple enough to understand, yet compelling enough to get behind. 

Eliminating words is not our natural behavior. In fact, our instinct is often to add more to accommodate rather than remove to articulate. We want to add more words and then comma, comma, comma, and before you know it your vision is 400 characters long and no one remembers it.

The vision starts in the heart of the leader and then you take it to other trusted people in the church to begin the process of wrapping language around it and then stripping that language down to the most articulate version of itself.

In the end you want a vision that is simple to understand, easy to remember, and compelling enough to move.

Not only will it be easier to preach, but it will have more teeth in life beyond the sermon.

It’s hard work, but it’s worth it.

Who Do I Bring Into the Loop Before I Preach the Vision Series?

Unlike many sermon series, a vision series is really more about the vision leadership process than it is a series of messages. If you’re rolling out the vision series and your stakeholders are hearing the vision for the first time, you missed some steps.

There needs to be a process for developing, critiquing, and affirming your vision before it’s taught on a Sunday morning. 

How much buy-in do you need from your stakeholders? The answer is, “It depends.”

It depends on whether you’re preaching a completely new vision; altering the mission strategy of the church.

It depends on whether you’re preaching through a new ‘rally cry’ language to an already existing vision and it’s simply the same message communicated using a different word picture.

According to Patrick Lencioni, the “Rally Cry” is a strategic concept that helps organizations focus their efforts and maintain clarity on their overarching goals. 

It depends on whether you’re preaching through a new initiative consistent with your current mission or if it’s an initiative that changes ministry structure from this point on.

Who you bring into the loop will depend on what you’re ultimately trying to accomplish and if you are unclear whether the vision you’re about to preach requires ‘buy-in’ from your key stakeholders, err on the side of wisdom and bring those people in to hear what you’re thinking.

How Frequently Should You Preach A Vision Series?

“We’re taking the next two weeks to talk about our vision as City Church.”

If you had to make the choice between preaching a vision sermon series once a year to bring everyone together on mission or drip the church’s vision out through every message over the course of the year, choose the latter. 

You don’t want to say, “here are the four weeks we taught vision” but rather “here is how we taught the vision over the last 52 weeks.”

The vision needs to be connected to everything you do and find it’s way into the sermons you preach, regardless of the sermon series title at the time.

But, if you’re talking about an initiative, that’s a little different.

Maybe you’re preaching through a new ministry initiative or a building initiative or a new training initiative opportunity.

In that case, preach a vision series as often as necessary. Of course, the more initiatives you lead, the less effective the vision series becomes, just by the fact they are more regular.

But you probably aren’t running a new building initiative every year. You’re probably not launching a new model of ministry every 24 months. In fact, next year’s ministry is going to resemble much of what this year’s ministry looked like. A vision series may not really be necessary, but rather, leaning on a rally cry that speaks to the urgency of the moment without altering or changing the greater mission.

Of course, this is one way of approaching your sermon calendar when it comes to scheduling a vision series, and hopefully it gives you enough to consider as you make the decision on how your church will approach preaching through a vision sermon series.

Signs The People Are Catching the Vision

Much of preaching feels like there is a raging forest fire of cultural idolatry and you get a little squirt gun, and it’s not even a super-soaker… It’s a single shot pistol. As you fire it, most of the water evaporates from the heat of the fire before it even hits the flames.

Here we are casting this vision with our little squirt gun, preaching four weeks of vision, or even dripping it throughout the entire year and it can still feel like it’s not making a difference. 

Until the Lord returns, the vision He is calling your church to won’t be a reality across the board. But what you want to ask is how do we measure if it’s taking root?

Considering the vision, specifically, there are a few highly tangible ways you can gauge just how deeply rooted the vision is taking hold in people’s lives.

Testimonies for the Vision

When you begin hearing testimonies and accounts come from specific people within your church, that’s a great sign the vision is taking hold. 

And these testimonies can be a strong key element to leverage when preaching vision, especially when you’re doing initiatives. As part of your preaching and communication, giving the microphone to someone else to share, “here is why I believe in this vision.”

Stories of the Vision

The most compelling vision statements are those which capture the things that are already being seen inside of the church. You can then preach, “Here is what we have already tasted a little bit and now I want to talk with you about ‘what if we tasted this a lot more’!”

You want to take what has started to bloom in so many ways and encourage it to blossom into its full potential. 

When you’re trying to motivate someone to take action, an effective way of getting them to move is to show them a visual picture or example of what their life will look like after they take the desired action.

Ask yourself, “Can I see the end result of what I’m calling people to?”

Highlighting the stories of people already living out the vision is a great way to give people something to aspire to or to know what to expect when they get on board.

People Pray the Vision

One of the best ways to find out if your core people have bought into the vision is to hear them pray. It’s such a sweet experience to share time in prayer with men and women in your church and hear them call out to God using language that your leaders have thoughtfully crafted. 

If you can hear them pray the vision you’ll hear them articulate, in their own words, what it means for them to live out the vision of the church.

People Make Fun of the Vision

When people make fun of the vision back to you, mocking it with sarcasm. They repeat it back to you, word for word. Rather than getting upset, that’s a sign that they’re getting it. They remember it. 

If someone knows your vision well enough to mock it, the vision is actually gaining traction.

People Manifest Expressions of the Vision

Are you prepared to get a tattoo of your church vision? You may not be, but there will be people in your congregation who will be. You work hard to put together a vision that is compelling with transformative implications and even though you may expect it to mobilize people, you may not expect some of the ways people will show they are on board.

One of the rally cries in years past at Ironwood Church was a call to become “Pink Spoon People”. 

Being followers of Jesus, part of our role as the church is to give people a preview of the coming Kingdom of God. We’re always praying, “God let your Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” At some point we are going to get the full taste of God’s Kingdom. He will make all things new and wipe away every tear. Until then, we get to be a preview of it.

You can describe that reality by saying, “We need to be a sign of the agent of the Kingdom,” but that’s not really compelling. 

Instead, Ironwood landed on the language adopted from Amy Sherman of the “Pink Spoon People”. When you go to Baskin Robbins and you sample the ice cream you get a little pink spoon. They give you a real taste of the real thing. If you get a full cone it comes out of the same container but here is a little taste of it.

Ironwood is saying, “We are a pink spoon people, drawing on the reality of Heaven and life with Christ and here is a little taste of what you could have if you came into this Kingdom and trusted the Lord.”

No one is going to tattoo “Sign of the agent of the Kingdom” on their forearm. But they did tattoo a pink spoon.

And while some may not be as eager or willing to get a tattoo, they will be eager and willing to maybe wear a “Pink Spoon People” shirt. 

When you see people beginning to manifest different expressions of the vision, you know it’s catching.

People Are Capable of Explaining the Vision

There are few indicators your vision is taking root as strong as the people in your church clearly explaining the vision to other people. When people in your church take it upon themselves to express the vision, there are multiple things happening. 

The first dynamic is comprehension. Teenagers are often eager to explain a topic in detail, even if they don’t fully understand it. In contrast, adults are usually hesitant to explain something unless they have a good grasp of the subject. When people in your church are willing to explain the vision, it shows that they understand it.

The second dynamic is confidence. Comprehending a topic is one thing, but having the confidence to share that knowledge with others is something else. When people in your church explain the vision to other adults, it demonstrates that they not only understand the concept but also feel confident enough in their knowledge to help others understand it as well.

The third dynamic is compulsion. When someone has a positive experience with a home handyman, they are often eager to recommend their “go-to” person to others, hoping to compel them to hire the same professional. Similarly, when someone takes the initiative to share the church’s vision, they often do so as an advocate, not only explaining the vision but also making a case for why it is worthwhile. Their ultimate goal is to persuade others to embrace the church’s vision just as they have.

When church members willingly explain the vision to others, it’s a strong sign that the vision has taken hold. It shows they understand, feel confident in, and are compelled to promote the vision. As leaders, creating an environment where members feel empowered to share the vision is essential. It spreads the message, unites the congregation, and proves the vision’s clarity, relevance, and inspirational power.

How Do People “Get In” On the Vision

Let’s look into the future. You’ve preached a great series. You’re receiving emails from people in the church telling you how the message resonated with them. People are repeating the vision back to you and to your key leaders. 

These are all great, but how do you want people to respond? What do you want them to do?

If you’re going to preach through the vision of the church you need to have a plan for follow-up. You’re going to work hard to make a compelling case for the future and as people resonate with the message and begin to buy-in they are going to want to take action.

Having your follow-up action ready will 1) help you capitalize on the momentum you’ve created and 2) give people an outlet for the excitement that has been building up inside of them.

Connect cards. Follow-up meetings. Invitations to serve. 

It doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, it shouldn’t be. Your call-to-action should be simple and clear. There should be no mistaking what the ‘next step’ is and how to get-in on the vision.

Provide Tools Beyond Sunday

Your vision series will most likely include some sort of call to action. However, there may be some people who want to learn more. They want to dive deeper into what you’ve taught over two or three weeks. They want to know more fully what it means to ‘be all in’. 

Take time to prepare tools to help people take action. These could be articles written to address concerns or objections. This could be an audio recording (think podcast) with yourself and one or two other key leaders in the church talking through the concepts in a more informal, off-the-cuff manner. This could be a class or series of classes people can attend to receive more education or instruction in a specific area of the vision.

What these tools should look like will vary from church to church. The bottom line is the more prepared you are to help people take their next step, the more likely they will take that step and that will result in the vision being brought to life in all sorts of glorious ways!

If the Vision Doesn’t Need Explanation, It’s Too Bland

A good vision should require some explanation. It should cause someone hearing it for the first time to think, “Hmmm, I don’t know what I think about that.”

Think about the dog, tilting his head. “Wait, what did you say?”

A simple, clear vision should not be confused for an intriguing and poignant vision. There should be a need to have a sermon series to communicate the implications of the vision. Consider this vision:

“We are a safe place to visit but a dangerous place to stay.”

That statement requires a little unpacking. We largely think about churches as safe places, fairly benign, and while there are some people on the news who are offensive, your local neighborhood church isn’t threatening.

But then you say that a church is dangerous?

What does that mean? Why would you want to be dangerous? What does danger mean? Is following Jesus dangerous? Is it worth the risks?

A vision of being “A safe place” isn’t really compelling and, chances are, it’s not really capturing your heart and won’t be capturing the minds of your people — much less their hearts. 

But a safe place where everyone is welcome, loved, and free to come as they are — yet, if you stay you’ll be challenged, convicted, and your life as you know it will never be the same — perhaps even turned on its head… that’s something that people can get behind.

Word pictures, analogies, stories, and other visual aids will help you bring your vision sermon to life. After all, vision is “Visual.”

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