Vision and Vision Casting/Projection are two words that have been disputed by many secular as well as religious writers. Generally, vision has been tied to good leadership both in the secular and religious institutions. A quick search in Christian bookstores yields more books on leadership and vision than one can possibly read in one year, hence signifying the importance of the term “vision” to modern church. That is why even George Barna, engulfed in the deep sense of the term, opts to write as many editions about it as possible so as to sensitize the church about their vision for God.
The Power of Vision by George Barna is not only essential, but also crucial to the world, whose sense of vision is dying away. In this book particularly, Barna is concerned about the leadership of the church, whom he cordially welcomes to experience the truth and discover the reality of biblical vision. To the general reader, the book is phenomenal in revealing explicitly the God’s vision through ages, the difference that exists between vision and mission, hindrances to God’s true vision on man, the practical steps human beings could follow in the walk of vision, and enhancing the communal ownership of the church’s vision. Barna actually saw vision as the only means to spiritual end, and he says that there was no option whatsoever to vision. That is, vision is second to none.
What makes the book The Power of Vision really amazing is how Barna has been able to tackle some of the fundamental ingredients of vision. One thing that is critical, for instance, is that the book resonates well with some of the visionary figures in the Bible. This is a big step, which cements the fact that the true and lasting vision is only found in the Bible.
Some of the great servants of God who had the vision Barna talked about include Isaiah with his vision right inside the temple of God; Samuel’s vision which is perfectly outlined in 1 Samuel 3, though auditory. Much more, in New Testament, we see one of the resounding servants of God, Paul, experiencing God’s vision both in word and in sight on his way to Damascus to persecute Christians. One important thing that I would add to Barna’s work is that one who has experienced God’s vision in truth and in spirit like Paul never looks behind to the past, but focuses on achieving that vision. In fact, Paul cements his journey of vision by saying that he has kept the faith and finished the race.
Another element of the book that stands out is how it clarifies the myths that dent people’s perception of vision. Actually, many churches have faltered and gone back to their knees because of their inability to create viable vision for the church. Barna gave an example of a church that was once bubbling with congregants, but then ended up in demise because it was unable to come up with a viable vision that would stimulate the members. One of those confusions or myths that even to me, stand out, is the line between vision and mission. Many people, more so church leaders, have used these terms interchangeably, implying that they mean the same thing, while in critical analysis they do not. One myth that has confused many people is consensus building. Many church leaders, for instance, have taken vision to be the product of consensus between leaders; this should not be the case, as Barna clarifies. It should be the reverse, that is, vision should create consensus among the leaders.
The focal point of the book is found in the third chapter, which talks about capturing God’s vision. In many occasions, out of human nature, people are torn between doing what others expect them to do or doing what God in heaven has called them to do. Pastors are much more affected, with continuous pressure coming from various quarters to do what is right in the sight of congregation. One thing the book brings out clearly about this issue is that pastors have to be more careful and invest more in their vision for the ministry, as commanded by God. That investment must always be accompanied by continuous prayers, scripture reading, and soul-searching efforts to stop the devil from stealing that vision away.