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By JR Horn, Church Coach at Team Expansion

One of the questions we hear frequently here at Team Expansion from church leaders looking for coaching goes something like, “Hey, umm, I’m looking for a bit of advice.  I’m trying to get my church family to serve in our local community and I don’t think anyone is listening to me.  I just finished preaching my guts out in a three-week sermon series and I ended it with focusing on James 1:27, but I’m not seeing any action.  Can you help me move my people to serve?”

Absolutely! Team Expansion would LOVE to help move your people from Sunday morning seats to local and global streets.  In my time working with churches, I’ve noticed several things that are key to seeing your people stand up, leave the church building, and physically be the hands and feet of Jesus. In this article, we’re covering step one: Vision. You might think you have this covered, but take a look at the four points below and make sure you’ve done it RIGHT because your church’s vision is foundational and nothing else is going to work if we get this step wrong.


When vision is not present, change does not happen, only confusion comes as a result.  There is a strong chance your people really do want to serve but the lack of a fully articulated vision is keeping them in their seats.  To fix that, we need to not only set that vision in front of them but show them where they fit into that vision.  They have to be able to see how they can be a part of the solution.  Communicating your vision is good, but in order to get to great, we must paint our vision on a metaphorical canvas where our people see themselves as part of the artwork.


On most church websites, I find a mission statement and sometimes a vision statement. The vast majority of churches have a quality mission statement that says who they are, but most seem to be a bit confused about what a Vision statement is.  I’m right there with you. It took me a long time to wrap my brain around the difference until I came across Michael Hyatt’s book, The Vision Driven Leader.  In the book, Michael simply states:

  • Mission is: What, Here, Now, and Brief
  • Vision is: Where, Out There, Next, and Robust.

Our Mission is who we are now, and our Vision says where we are going as a family of believers.  When you find yourself frustrated that your people aren’t listening to you, take a step back and evaluate. Have you extensively laid out where you’re going as a church – the next big step? Have you invited your people into that vision?  If not, you may have found your problem.


This is a point of frustration for many church leaders. As a church coach, I hear it all the time, “Everyone has an excuse for not serving!”  Yes, yes, I hear you and have said those exact same words myself at times. It is absolutely frustrating when you are passionate about a cause, make personal sacrifices to serve that cause yourself, but when you invite others to join you, it’s one excuse after another. It’s frustrating, but let me challenge you with this statement, every excuse you receive paints the bullseye as to where you can help that person progress on their faith journey.

At Team Expansion, we hear many excuses or statements as to why someone doesn’t want to move forward in their training for cross-cultural ministry.  We have heard, “I’m not sure I can raise that much money.” Or, “I’m not ready to leave yet.”  These are not unfounded or wrong statements; those things are hard. That’s why we’ve used these common roadblocks (and many others) to shape our onboarding, so we can address these problems and equip recruits from the very beginning.

Use each excuse as a discipleship opportunity. Overcoming these barriers should be a part of your vision. Fight hard to not be internally affected (don’t succumb to negativity), but instead, leverage each excuse to help your people grow.


Many church leaders excel at big thinking, but unfortunately, that’s often coupled with a weakness for details and planning. But here’s a secret, if we cast a big vision without putting any details in place, it’s just going to be a big dud.

My ministry career began as a Student Minister at First Christian Church in Kenosha, WI.  I was newly married, relatively green, and I had no kids.  So here I am, not a parent, and I’m supposed to partner with parents to aid them in parenting their kids (talk about a wake-up call)!  Being kid-less, I had plenty of time to be spontaneous with my teens – going to see a movie, out to eat, etc.  It wasn’t until my wife and I had our first son that I learned what forward planning was all about.  In order for me to best partner with the parents in my ministry, I needed to think and plan toward the future.  All events, Bible studies, service opportunities needed to be scheduled and then promoted to our families.  I needed to ensure that families could have adequate time to plan their family calendars around the church calendar of events if they wanted.  Once I began doing this, attendance at service events skyrocketed!

When you communicate your vision, don’t only communicate the what, communicate the how. What specific plans do you have for the future? How can you begin to think toward the future and get the service events you want your people to attend on their calendar so they can plan on being there?


Does your church have a vision? How have you communicated your vision to your people? What was the result? Share your experience in the comments below. Next time, I’ll talk about creating a “Serving Pipeline” where you can begin to practically move your people from Sunday morning seats to local and global streets! Till then, if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact me, I’d love to connect with you.


JR served in pastoral ministry for 15+ years in Kentucky and Wisconsin, but his desire to see churches become active participants in fulfilling the Great Commission led him into full-time service with Team Expansion. Today, JR helps churches become strategic and intentional with local and global missions. JR and his wife, Heather, are active foster and adoptive parents and have three kids. In their free time, you’ll find them riding their motorcycles together any chance they can get.

Learn More about JR and Church Coaching >>

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