About a year ago, a good friend of mine and I were talking about visions that God has given us throughout the years. Both of us are strong visionaries and we were encouraged to discuss what God had given us individually and how that all worked together in the bigger picture of God’s will. At the end of the discussion, my friend recommended that I read Vissioneering by Andy Stanley. It has been a while since that conversation, but I finally had the opportunity recently to sit down and digest that book.
In Vissioneering, Andy Stanley discusses a unique spirit that many people have in recognizing where things aren’t right and the passion they have to make it better. The book is a sort of self-help book to those who have visions and it offers strategies on how to maintain a vision, accomplish the tasks, and sustain positive results.
Andy Stanley is the founding pastor of North Point Community Church and North Point Ministries in Georgia. The son of Mega-Church pastor Charles Stanley, Andy has followed in his father’s footsteps by establishing his own Mege-Church ministry, with unique characteristics that are all his own. With a collective Church size of over 15,000 people, Andy Stanley has established himself as a voice to be heard and a clear visionary to be acknowledged.
Vision is a rather ambiguous term which Stanley doesn’t spend a great deal of time defining. Stanley’s definition seems to lump all great ideas into the same pot without making much distinction between business and ministry. In either case, the points Stanley makes could be applied to both worlds. Stanley’s introductory point is that everyone ends up somewhere in life, and vision plays a large part in getting there. While it is implied that visions from God are designed to further God’s kingdom, it is not explicitly stated. Therefore, anyone with a vision of any kind could learn from this book.
The highlights of the book are chapters five, six, and eleven where Stanley explains that visions need to be founded, guarded, and evaluated in light of criticism. In Chapter five, Stanley explains the essential ingredient to vision: faith. “Faith is confidence that God is who He says He is and that He will do what He has promised to do.” This is a critical point to understand before proceeding in any pursuit.
Chapter six talks about the importance of doing the necessary research to determine how the vision will be accomplished. Stanley notes that many people will not be on board with your initial vision until they see it working. Too often, visionaries are discouraged because the vision they were attempting to accomplish didn’t work out. This is usually because they were using the wrong means. Instead of giving up on the vision, Stanley suggest one should reevaluate the process of accomplishing it.
In Chapter eleven Stanley gives extensive warning about the nay-sayers that are out there, “Visions are easy to criticize… Vision attract criticism… Visions are difficult to defend against criticism… and Visions often die at the hands of critics.” For anyone who has ever had a vision and had their wind knocked out of them, this chapter will be encouraging and motivating.
Stanley makes several other key points that are important to note: Visions are never exclusive to one person, Vision takes sacrifice, and Vision requires leadership. Visioneering is a thorough book which will encourage anyone who ever had vision to keep pressing on and better refine their objectives, but it is not without its areas of concern.
The biggest concern I had with the book was that there was not a good deal of Scriptural support. This is not to suggest that the book was wrong in any way, or erroneous in its premise, but it does question the definitiveness of the argument. The point here is that people with vision and no idea where to begin look up to those who have accomplished much in their lifetime. It is clearly evident that Andy Stanley has accomplished a great deal of things. This is his sole source of credibility.
In order to understand why I bring this up, we must first note that all truth is God’s truth, but not all truth is recorded in the Bible. Speaking outside of the framework of the Bible is not wrong, I do it quite often as does everyone else. But it is important to be aware that just because this is a Christian book, it is not above criticism. Those Christians reading this book need to exercise discernment and understand that what Andy Stanley is saying is outside of the realm of definitive truth. He is purely speaking from experience, which is not all wrong.
Furthermore, I did feel that there were a great deal of points to be made that would shed light on the Biblical principles for visioneering: multitude of counselors, iron sharpening iron, etc. Yet Stanley seemed to be speaking solely outside of any Biblical argument. Surely there are several models in Scripture which Stanley could have noted as examples in the book, but he didn’t. This is not to say that it is all wrong, but to point out the limitations that the book has.
There are a lot of great men who have accomplished great things. Ironically, they will not all agree on what it took to get them there. If anyone desires to learn, they need simply to place themselves under the feet of those who have gone before them. There is so much to learn from those who have accomplished much. Those of us who are rising into the ranks of leadership should consider greatly the path of those who have influenced us and take great care to provide a clear example to those who are following us. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning how to steer their vision, but I would offer some caution that what is read will be accepted as general wisdom.