How to Effectively Communicate Your Children's Ministry Vision

Walt's vision for creating Disneyland was at a crossroads.  To move forward, it had to be approved by the board of directors.  Several of the board members were complaining that Disney shouldn’t even enter the amusement park business.  Walt had to convince them that his vision was viable.

"As he stood before the board, he admitted that it was hard for them to envision Disneyland the way he could, but he assured them, ‘there’s nothing like it in the world.  I know because I’ve looked.  That’s why it can be great: because it will be unique.  A new concept in entertainment, and I think...I can be a success.’  When he finished there were tears in his eyes. The members of the board were persuaded.”

Walt knew how to effectively communicate his vision.  Here’s another great example as told by Ken Anderson, one of the animators who worked on the original film Snow White.  He shares how Walt communicated the vision with the animators.

“Walt gave us fifty cents each in the afternoon and he said, ‘Why don’t you go get yourself a dinner and be back here at eight o’clock.  Be back on the soundstage.’  So we went and had this wonderful dinner - you could have a wonderful dinner for thirty-five cents.  And came back to the confines of the studio and he walked in, still not knowing what it was all about, walked into this sound stage that was all dark so we could save money.  So we, about forty of us sat there, and we got all settled and Walt was talking to the guys in the front.  And he came down the front of the thing and said, ‘I’m gonna’ tell you a story.’  He says, ‘Been with me all my life.’  He said, ‘I’ve lived it.’  He started in and told the story of Snow White better than we put it on the screen. 

He spent from 8:00 to 11:30, and he portrayed all the parts.  He had to go forward and back and forward and back and the cutting didn’t matter, in order to tell it all and get it all in.  But he became even the Queen, he became the Huntsman, he became the dwarves, he became Snow White.  And the guy changed.  He sat right in front of our eyes and here comes Walt Disney changing.  Now there’s an enormous talent as an actor; he could really sell things.  And he sold the story to us in such a way that we couldn’t believe our ears."

From this inside look at Walt’s leadership, we learn that when a vision is effectively shared, people will be motivated to help make the vision become a reality.  Communicating your vision is a crucial part of seeing it become a reality.  Without Walt casting the vision, there would have been no Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  You see, a vision that is not communicated properly will fall.

Let's look at some key elements of effectively communicating a vision.

Communicate the vision with passion.  Great leaders believe in their vision in the depths of their soul and it is obvious when they talk about it.  Did you notice that Walt had tears in his eyes as he shared his vision to build Disneyland?  Have you ever watched the video of Dr. King sharing his vision at the Washington Monument?  The passion for his vision echoed throughout his speech that day.  When president John F. Kennedy stood and uttered the words "so my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you ask what you can do for your country," his passion for the vision was evident.

A new logo Several times when we needed a fresh vision for a children’s ministry I had been called to lead, I would create a new logo.  A new logo can be a symbol of a new and exciting vision.  Make sure you have someone professionally create your logo.  A shabby or “I-did-it-myself ” logo will communicate that the vision is shabby.

Make sure new volunteers understand the vision.  This helps them see the “why” of their role and not just the “how” of their role.  A great place to do this is in a new volunteer orientation.

Communicate the vision at the beginning of a new year.  Each January, I take our staff team on a one-day retreat.  During this retreat, I share the vision for the upcoming year.

Keep your vision statement as short as possible.  I sigh when I see a church’s vision statement that is a paragraph or longer.  There is no way people are going to remember something that long.  Our brains are wired to remember about 7 words or less.  That’s why our phone numbers are 7 digits long.  Use this not only to communicate upcoming events or programs, but your vision as well. 

This is an excerpt from the book If Disney Ran Your Children's Ministry.  You can get the book in eBook and hard copy formats at this link.