One of the false concepts that many Christians have accepted without question is that they must commit themselves to “the pastor’s vision.”
This concept basically teaches that God has revealed a special vision to the pastor for the local church, and congregants must unite and devote themselves to serving this vision.
Emotional pleas to serve the pastor’s vision are sometimes accompanied by persuasive statements such as “You won’t reach your full potential until you learn to serve someone else’s vision.” “Serving the pastor’s vision will teach you humility, loyalty, submission, and maturity.” “God will promote you and fulfill your dreams as you serve the pastor’s vision.” “The church will not grow unless we unite under the pastor’s vision.”
Scriptures are also quoted such as “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18), and “Write the vision, and make it plain” (Habakkuk 2:2).Neither one of these Scriptures (when kept it context) remotely imply that we must devote ourselves to a pastor’s vision.
For example in Proverbs 29:18, the Hebrew word translated as “vision” is referring to Divine instruction and revelation. And the Hebrew word translated as “perish” means to cast off restraint and run wild. If you were to read this passage in the New King James Version, it says “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law.” Did you catch that? This verse is not saying that without a pastor’s vision, a local assembly will perish. It is saying that where there is no Divine instruction or revelation from God (being properly taught, proclaimed, and obeyed), the people will cast off restraint and live however they please. But those who keep the word of God, blessed/happy are they.
Habakkuk 2:2 has nothing to do with supporting a pastor’s vision either. If you begin in chapter 1, you will see that the context of Habakkuk 2:2 is a prophecy against Israel. The Lord told Habakkuk to write down a vision that He was sending the Babylonians to invade Israel and take them captive for rebelling against Him. But this is not what pastor’s are referring to when they say to “Write the vision and make it plain.” They are quoting Scripture out of context to solicit the support of congregants.
Must we rely on religious leaders to find out what God’s vision is? No. We are not under the Old Covenant anymore.
During the Old Covenant, the children of Israel relied on prophets for a vision or word from God (Hebrews 1:1), because at Mount Sinai they forfeited the privilege of hearing from God personally (Exodus 20:18-19). They preferred being led by men than being led by God (1 Samuel 8). They also relied on prophets for a vision or word from God, because most of them did not personally walk with God God and have the indwelling Holy Spirit as we do today. They relied on priests and prophets to stand between them and God and tell them what God said.
In the New Covenant, we do not need to rely on religious leaders for a vision or word from God – because today, God has spoken to us through His Son (Hebrews 1:2). The Holy Spirit has been poured out upon all Believers to lead and guide us into all truth. As Jesus said “My sheep hear my voice” and “they shall all be taught by God.”
God most definitely has a vision for us, but it is not some esoteric mystical ‘special revelation’ that He only reveals to pastors. It has already been revealed in the Holy Scriptures. There is no need to waste time, energy and resources on books and conferences about “vision-casting” or “how to cast a vision for your church.” All we have to do is ask God for wisdom and study His word.
Be careful of leaders who claim that God gave them a vision for the church, especially IF they claim that they received this vision in a supernatural manner AND they are asking you to ‘partner’ with them (i.e., give them money). Don’t be so quick to jump on their bandwagon. The Scriptures speak of false prophets who seduce God’s people with false visions. “These prophets are telling lies in my name. I did not send them or tell them to speak. I did not give them any messages. They prophesy of visions and revelations they have never seen or heard. They speak foolishness made up in their own lying hearts.” (Jeremiah 14:14; Ezekiel 13).
Many wolves have crept into the sheepfold with an agenda to make their own name great and fatten their pockets at the expense of unsuspecting souls. Their plan is to globalize their religious corporations, not edify the saints and reach the lost. They know that people want to be a part of something greater than themselves, so they play on that by using buzz words about “God giving them a vision” to gain financial support for their religious pyramid schemes.
The only vision that we’re called to be a part of is the vision of Jesus Christ laid out for us in Scripture. Yet many Christians have been lured away from Jesus Christ and captivated by the vain imaginations of men.
This is not to say that elders cannot speak a prophetic word for a local assembly, or that God would never give an elder a dream, a vision, or a specific directive for a local assembly. We are cautioned not to quench the Spirit by despising prophecy. But at the same time, we are also cautioned to “test all things” by examining any alleged prophetic word, dream, vision, or specific directive under the light of God’s word to verify its authenticity.
Without discernment, the pastor’s “vision” can become a blinder which renders us visionless and places us in subservience to man-made agendas.