"If you want to build a ship, don't herd people together to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The thrill of sailing the open sea is the vision that drives building the ship. Casting a vision of the preferred future, the new reality, is immensely motivating. The picture of the preferred future becomes tangible and real—as palpable as the spray of sea water on your face as the ship heaves up and down with each wave. Even though the ship hasn’t yet been built, the vision drives the ship builder forward.
What preferred future are you painting? When your vision is achieved, what will the new reality look and feel like?
Vision-casting does not mean crafting a clever phrase to describe an ideal. It’s not the function of wordsmithing. Visioning is visualizing and articulating the new reality that will exist as a result of your efforts, by God’s grace. If you climb into a time capsule and arrive in 2025, you will be able to videotape the reality of your vision as you witness it all around you. It’s a real circumstance happening in time and space.
So what role does vision serve for a Christian ministry? Vision mobilizes people toward the preferred future. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, but happy is he who keeps the law.” (NASB). Vision provides focus as it inspires people to action.
Let’s take an example. There are young women being rescued from trafficking in Asia; women who frequently do not have the life skills or education to become self-supporting once rescued from their oppressors. Many are addicted to drugs fed to them while under someone else’s control. They are often separated from their families and far from home.
Workers for a Christian ministry assist these young women, providing physical, spiritual, emotional and practical support to help them break free and find hope. But, no surprise, the immensity of the need outpaces the capacity of the workers and resources to keep up.
So how would articulating a compelling vision make a difference?
“People give to people with a vision.”
Let’s say this ministry painted the scene of their future reality like this: Nine women and five men are being commissioned by members of five churches gathered at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in east Asia. The scene takes place in a stained-glass manufacturing plant. This plant is the hub for glass recycling, an artist’s studio, in-plant soldering training and certification program, product assembly, packaging and shipment. It is also configured with a large community room for Bible classes, life skills training and technology training to support the supply chain and inventory management. Together, Asians and expatriates from seven countries engage in life-on-life experiences here.
Today’s 17-year old victim is one of the women being commissioned at the service in 2025. I attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony and photograph the event so that now, in 2018, I can enlarge the snapshot, frame it, hang it on the wall, and explain it to everyone I see.
Working back from 2025, what steps are necessary to get there? What bridge do I have to build to make the vision come to life? The pilons of the bridge are the strategy components that will create the path from here to there as I identify what needs to happen, who’s going to do it, and who’s going to pay for it.
In my experience, visioning the provision of the resources is as much a part of the outcome as visioning the program elements and staffing requirements. Exploring traditional and innovative sources of funding and the people connected to them requires the same eyes to see the future as exploring the program elements and who will deliver those.
Monetizing vision is part of the vision. Discovering the resources is part of the outcome. People give to people with a vision.
“When your vision is achieved, what will the new reality look and feel like?”
In this example we see a ministry delivering God’s life-changing transformation to vulnerable victims. The funders who make it happen experience God’s transforming touch in their own lives as they participate in helping victims’ lives be transformed.
The goal of resourcing vision is not to procure enough money to pay for everything. The goal is to engage God’s servants in reciprocal benefit as they give of themselves and receive in return. Shared vision, shared investment, shared life change, and shared celebration, for God’s glory.
As you consider options to monetize your vision, look for networks of people who will personally benefit from engaging with you, not just people who have resources you need. And in thinking more broadly, remember that resources take many forms – liquid assets, investment capital, a revolving fund, new goods, repurposed goods, shared space, shared transportation, shared technology, shared back office services and much more.
Likewise, human resources may take on traditional or innovative forms such as self-funded retirees, individuals on sabbatical, someone sponsored by a corporation, or an employee on their company’s payroll who serves “on loan.” These human resources can include individuals who contribute expertise, training, credentialing, operational management, worker supervision, referral services, third party endorsement, public relations, advertising, recruitment, access to networks, positioning with experts, specialized services and much more. Monetizing vision goes beyond receiving cash donations to allow hired employees to provide services to people in need.
A word of caution: Everyone would like a money tree—a worry-free revenue stream that supplies funds without requiring much effort. Ministries sometimes add a line of business purely for revenues purposes, not one intended to build relationships with funders or connect the funders to the beneficiaries. It’s done only to add income to supplement or supplant fundraising.
The problem with this is that no revenue stream is without headaches. Just ask the ministry functioning as a landlord. But more importantly, money tree revenue removes the co-transformation of the funder alongside the beneficiary. A great deal of spiritual impact would be completely lost if every ministry had unlimited funds to draw down at will. It would be easy, but it would not be best.
The reason God designed for us to financially support his work is because of the work he does in the heart of the giver. God’s funding model invites people to give generously to him and his kingdom work. We do it not because we don’t have money, but because God ordained it so that the Body of Christ resources the Body of Christ.
I do encourage complementary revenue streams but the goal is to monetize the vision through people who are connected to the end result for maximum mutual benefit.
Consider these steps in monetizing your vision of the future:
- See the vision
- Paint the picture, frame it, hang it in plain view, and explain it to everyone
- Create a strategic plan for unified resource and program development
- Build the bridge by implementing the strategies and tactics of the plan
- Refresh the vision constantly to provide focus and inspire action
I hope these steps are helpful as you seek to resource a vision of a preferred future. In my work at Douglas Shaw & Associates, I witness on a daily basis the power an integrated direct response strategy offers for mobilizing and motivating people to give generously. The strategic use of print, online, social media, and broadcast channels to inspire people to action is a strong asset for the kingdom. The more innovative and diverse your funding streams become, the better you will be able to effectively monetize your vision.
Since 1998 Shelley Cochrane has served in executive roles that implemented strategies that have mobilized millions of givers to fund life-changing work all around the world. Shelley’s heartbeat fits Douglas Shaw’s commitment to work every day to “be part of what’s right with the world.” Learn more at www.douglasshaw.com.