VISION & How to improve clarity and impact: a video introduction #LEAD600

In my courses, my students evaluate existing vision and mission statements with a goal of improving clarity and impact. To assist them in the evaluation, I’ve recorded a video introduction to their homework on evaluating vision and mission statements (LEAD 600: Strategic Leadership and Management).

©️Bob Whitesel 2017, used by permission only.


VISION & What Makes a Visionary Leader #Video @BobWhitesel #ChurchCentral

What makes a visionary leader?

May 4, 2017 | by Bob Whitesel


Watch the video at

Bob Whitesel gives historical background to the term strategic leader.Explore the characteristics of this leadership and think about who models these attributes on your church’s team. (Excerpted from the Society For Church Consulting’s Church Staffing Summit 2015.)

#STO STO leadership


VISION & Video Introduction to Praxis Assignments of Week 4 of LEAD 600

I record video introductions to weekly assignments for my students.  Here is an introduction to the topic “Evaluating Mission & Vision” from LEAD 600: Missional Leadership (typically week 4, but may vary due to student needs).

©️Bob Whitesel 2017, used by permission only.

MISSION vs VISION & In One Short Sentence, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Explained the Flaw w/ Bill Gates’ Original Mission

by Bob Whitesel D.Min. Ph.D, 2/27/17.

Why are Apple fans more passionate than PC followers? Why are artists, who think abstractly, drawn to Apple more than Microsoft?

It has to do with one of their founder’s mixup of vision with mission.

Bill Gates equated mission with vision. As I teach my students, the two are distinctly different: mission never changes, but vision is temporal and may change, albeit carefully, over time and with strategic analysis.

Gates equated mission with vision as the current Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, “It always bothered me that we confused an enduring mission with a temporal goal.”

Nadelle explained, “When I joined the company in 1992, we used to talk about our mission as putting a PC in every home, and by the end of the decade we have done that, at least in the developed world,” said Nadella.

Nadella is right, “putting a PC in every home” is not a mission – because it is a vision. It is something that can be reached, can be pictured in your mind and is temporally bound. You can see a vision in your mind. You can envision every house having a PC computer. That is why every house today doesn’t, many have Macs.

A mission drives the company and its values, therefore shaping it’s decisions. It is much bigger and grander than a vision.

When Steve Jobs was luring Bill Scully from PepsiCo to become CEO of Apple, Jobs shared a mission, not a vision, saying: “Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water or do you want a chance to change the world?” (Odyssey: Pepsi to Apple: A Journey of Adventure, Ideas, and the Future [1987] by John Sculley and John A. Byrne)

A mission is just like that. It is exciting, world-changing … but somewhat imprecise so it could be manifest in many different outcomes. It is also not temporally bound, like “putting a PC in every home.” A mission drives your values and decisions through many different projects.

But, people like visions because they can envision what the future looks like. For instance, they can picture every home having a PC.

In contrast, look at the loyal following and passionate followers of Apple. Steve Jobs had a mission to “change the world” by reinventing the way the world interacts. This change mission includes, but is not limited to, putting an Apple Computer in every home. But it also includes visions such as putting an Apple iPhone in every hand, perfecting the computer notepad, reinventing how we obtain/listen to music, etc.

A person who knows the difference between vision and mission understands why it was much more fun and exciting to work for Jobs than for Gates. And a person who knows the difference between vision and mission understands why people are more passionate about companies like Apple.

If you are trying to get people excited about the mission of the church and your vision, then you must begin by understanding the difference between vision and mission. Even mega-wealthy entrepreneurs like Gates didn’t get it and their legacy reminds us of this.

Read this article to discover why Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said, “It always bothered me that we confused an enduring mission with a temporal goal.”

In One Short Sentence, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Explained the Flaw w/ Bill Gates’ Original Mission

by Justin Bariso, Inc. Magazine, 2/27/17.

I’ve been a fan of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella for some time. From encouraging employees after an epic fail to the amazing autonomy he’s granted LinkedIn (after that company’s recent acquisition), Nadella has proven he’s the right leader to guide Microsoft into the future.

Of course, Nadella took over a position that was once held by the company’s founder and world’s wealthiest man Bill Gates. But in a recent interview with USA Today, Nadella showed that he’s not afraid to forge his own path–by sharing what he saw as a flaw in Gates’s original mission statement.

“When I joined the company in 1992, we used to talk about our mission as putting a PC in every home, and by the end of the decade we have done that, at least in the developed world,” said Nadella.

He continues: “It always bothered me that we confused an enduring mission with a temporal goal.”

Moving Forward

For his part, Nadella has tried to embrace a more forward-thinking philosophy.  Just a few examples:

  • Microsoft Azure (the company’s cloud computing service) is growing rapidly, and second in market share only to Amazon’s AWS…

Read more at …

#LEAD600 #LEAD545


VISION & Good/Bad Vision Statements Compared

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 3/15/16.

Clients, students and seminar attendees often ask about what a good vision statement looks like. First let’s define what a vision statement is and then look at good (and bad) examples.

Here is a concise comparison between mission and vision statements.

“Envisioning begins by asking ourselves ‘what do we do?’ (our mission statement) and continues by uncovering, ‘where to we believe God is calling our church to go in the future’ (our vision statement).” 1

Here is a fuller explanation. 2

FIGURE ©Whitesel HOUSE DIVIDED 5.1 Mission & Vision Statement Compared p 107 copy

FIGURE ©Whitesel HOUSE DIVIDED 5.1 Mission & Vision Statement Compared p 107.b

Here are some good and some better examples: 3

The following are sample vision statements that have been generationally shaped to promote a Tri-Gen. format (italics are added here for emphasis):

  • “We want to turn pre-Christian people of all generations into fully devoted followers of Christ, through relevant teaching and up-to-date worship.
  • “To build a caring and compassionate congregation that loves people of all ages into a relationship with Jesus Christ through acts of kindness.”
  • Our vision is to reach all generations within the tri-state area with the Good News through culture-current forms of evangelism, worship, teaching and nurture, and to work with other congregations to accomplish these goals.
  • To provide for (city) a Christian fellowship offering teaching and worship opportunities geared to each generation, while respecting our differences and exalting our Lord.
  • The vision of (church name) is to present Christ to the people of (city) in a caring and creative way, that will make disciples of all ages; while offering them a forgiving and open-hearted environment.
  • To simultaneously meet the needs of all generations of people in our community, through biblical teachings and personal lifestyle that will create social action, conscience and responsibility.
  • Our ministry goal is to build relationships to all generations through Christ-centered teaching, quality worship, heartfelt care, personal discipleship and credible leadership.
  • Our church vision is to become a lighthouse to the greater metropolitan area, by addressing the needs of all generations though parallel worship, teaching, and care ministries; which will exalt and honor our Lord Jesus Christ.

And here is a (humorous) example of a bad vision statement:

“First Covenant Church exists for the passion and purpose of inspiring, discipling, equipping and sending out Christ followers with the destiny of transforming the world to the glory of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and fostering a graceful yet convicting church environment in which people of all faith experiences and backgrounds are molded into the image and reflection of Christ, together creating a God-honoring community of authentic worshipers deliberately focused on reaching their community, the nation, the next generation of believers and the world through missions works, innovative programs and prayer.”  And that’s just the first sentence… Read More

You can download below a chapter on the difference between mission, vision and value statements from my book A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church.  If this helps you consider supporting the publisher and the author by purchasing the book: House_Divided_Chpt5_Vision©BobWhitesel


  1. Bob Whitesel, A House Divided: Bridging the Generation Gaps in Your Church (Abingdon Press, 2000), p. 240.
  2. ibid., p. 107.
  3. ibid., p. 108.

OPERATIONAL LEADERSHIP & A Quiz to Help Discover if You Are a Shepherd (a leadership exercise)

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 12/15/15.

Are you a shepherd or a visionary (or a little of both)? 

Here is a posting explaining the difference: STO LEADERSHIP & An Overview: Are you a shepherd or a visionary (or a little of both)?

But what if you are primarily an operational-style of leader, the type we classify as “shepherd?”  Will you ever lead a large, growing ministry?

Yes you may, for I have seen many “shepherd leaders” who build leadership teams that lead large flocks. Read the excerpt from my book here to find out the difference (not for public distribution, so if you enjoy the chapter please support the publisher and author by purchasing a copy): BOOK ©Whitesel EXCERPT – CHANGE REACTION Chpt. 2 STO Leaders.

A Questionnaire to Discover If You are Primarily a Shepherd Leader

If you feel you are an “operational leader” more than a “strategic leader,” that is fine.

As I said above, I’ve seen many leaders of large ministries that are primarily operational leaders. This is because they build together a great team to lead the organization.

So how do you know if you are an operational (shepherd) leader?  How do you tell?

A good place to start is Randall Neighbour’s self-exam called the “Pastor’s Relational Survey.”  It came from the Appendix of his book, The Naked Truth About Small Group Ministry.

You can complete Neighbour’s the “Pastor’s Relational Survey” self-exam in about 10 minutes here: “Pastor’s Relational Survey.”Take this short questionnaire and it may help you focus on your unique leadership gifts.

VISION & Should Out-group Members Help Shape Vision?

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 11/5/15.

A pastor of a mid-sized church (300-450 attendance) wondered to what degree the vision should be generated by the pastor and staff (the in-group) and to what degree should the vision be co-generated with laity who may include out-groups. This is what he said:

“What do you think about the viewpoints that ‘it is not the Elders’ role to come up with the vision,’ but (their) work is to follow the lead pastor’s vision and ensure that he/she has time, resources, and tools to cultivate a clear vision of the body.” The student went on to emphasize that in many large churches it is the pastor and staff who are an in-group that drives the vision. And the laypersons and out-groups are those who bring it about. Thus vision should be in-group created but out-group undertaken.

But, I wonder with such a scenario about two things. First, perhaps God has sent those out-group members to your church and He wants you to reach out to them and build a shared vision.

Secondly, the in-group/out-group division could have been caused by cultural differences (see my posting on “Does Race Matter When It Comes to Out-group Members?”) Therefore, should we break down the organizational silos and unite a congregation by creating a shared vision, rather than a vision created by the dominant culture in the church.

And finally, what will happen when a new leader (e.g. pastor) comes into such a situation?  Does each new pastor bring their own new vision to the church?  Regrettably, I have observed that this is often the case. The end result it that with each successive pastor the church often gets a new vision and then goes in a new direction, thwarting long term strength and health.

In fact, in the business word the new leader rarely comes up with a brand new vision, but instead allows input from the in-groups and out-groups to set a shared vision.  But there is a caveat. And that is that some churches may have a wrong vision (and/or mission) and therefore they must be gently but tenaciously drawn back to the missio Dei.  However, I’m not talking about these churches.

Rather, I sense that if most churches foster a vision that is cultivated in community that vision will be is more balanced, broad, shared and long-term.