A Look into Vision, Design and Change

Introduction: It takes a team to build a skyscraper. There are those who can envision the building while others see the plans. Ultimately, it takes a team to envision, design, build and implement. There are many members, but only one body. Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained (Proverbs 29:18). Vision, as it pertains to leadership, is the ability to see what others do not.

EDITOR’S NOTE: On Sunday, Aug. 15, Matt Chandler addressed staff organizational changes in his teaching to the church and the reasons for those changes. In this accompanying blog entry, Josh Patterson provides background and takes a look at further reasoning. Members were provided a hand-out with campus ministry leaders on Sunday.


It takes a team to build a skyscraper. There are those who can envision the building while others see the plans. Ultimately, it takes a team to envision, design, build and implement. There are many members, but only one body.

Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained” (Proverbs 29:18). Vision, as it pertains to leadership, is the ability to see what others do not. A leader gifted in vision can navigate through thick darkness and find his way in a dense fog. Vision answers the question, “What?”

Vision engenders hope and sparks passion. It defines the contours of new possibilities and creates appropriate boundaries. It fuels freedom and is the catalyst for ingenuity. It is a fundamental element of leadership. But vision without design is mindless chatter or vain intentions; “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23).

The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways, but the folly of fools is deception” (Proverbs 14:8). Design, as it pertains to leadership, is the ability to formulate a plan, process and strategy to realize the vision. One definition states that design is, “adaptation of means to a preconceived end.” Design answers the question, “How?”

For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4). This is our confession and our charge. We are charged to dream and design, while we confess that God is our deepest desire and the Chief Architect. As we labor to build a spiritual house, we know that vision is the end and design is the means all to the glory of God. Vision is our product, but design is our process. Our vision is a disciple steeped in maturity and design is the process of movement. Here is our call:

“to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are togrow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love ” (Ephesians 4:12-16).

Our Mission and Vision

The Village Church exists to bring glory to God through lives changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The mission of the Church of Jesus Christ has been the same since her inception. The message is the same, but the methods are new. The call is consistent, but the context is ever-changing.

Our mission statement succinctly describes our heart. We are God-centered; we exist to bring glory to God. This is the chief aim and purpose of humanity and of all creation. The glory of God is ultimate. The Scriptures share the wonderful news that God is glorified through changed lives. Life change is both an event (salvation) and a process (sanctification). Life change is conditioned by a qualifying statement in our mission statement: the gospel of Jesus Christ.

People’s lives can be changed by a dramatic event, traumatic news or an enticing culture. But, the only kind of life change that allows a person to have a right relationship with God the Father is through the gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ died for our sins and was raised to life three days later. That’s the gospel.

The vision for The Village is to have our five Core Values — Truth, Christian Spirituality, Community, Foot Washing and Missional Living — expressed through our members and extended to our community.

Where the mission of the Church is solid, static and not open for change, the vision is a growing and flexible understanding of God’s specific purpose for our local body. Our vision is dynamic and unique. We believe our five Core Values accurately reflect God’s thematic purposes for His people. Our desire is to see these values expressed by our members in their daily lives.

Borrowed Buildings and Old Blueprints

Pride tells us we are different rather than a piece of the puzzle in God’s unfolding mission. Our story is woven into the various movements that have shaped the church for hundreds of years.

Interestingly enough in the mid-70s Grace Temple Baptist Church of Denton funded a mission church in Highland Village (the irony of sovereignty). Through times of hardship and struggle, the mission failed and the church disbanded. Shortly after this, Lakeland Baptist Church funded another mission that eventually became Highland Village First Baptist Church. HVFBC changed over time and eventually morphed into a seeker-driven church in the late 1990s. Struggle is no respecter of philosophy and this proved to be true in Highland Village. The church lost its pastor and searched for a hopeful solution to reach the next generation.

On Dec. 8, 2002, HVFBC called a new lead pastor, Matt Chandler. This young pastor had the experience of travel, the courage of youth, an unprecedented gift to communicate, and the vision to promulgate a new theological and philosophical climate. It was also his first pastorate.

Change followed in rapid succession. Theology, philosophy and numbers were all tilting the ship in a new direction and the spiritual building of HVFBC would continue to morph:

  • 2003: began calling ourselves “The Village”
  • 2004: rapid numeric growth and expansion of services; new constitution and bylaws leading to new structure of church governance through a body of elders
  • 2005: staffing restructure in response to growth
  • 2006: the HV expansion to 725 seats which enabled us to grow numerically by 50 percent
  • 2007: “Venture,” Denton campus, staff size increased and purchase of the Albertsons building
  • 2008: elder candidacy, slow down on hiring, introduction of department heads, staffing restructure with “centralized” and “model-ministries,” rewrite of membership covenant
  • 2009: Dallas Northway campus, Flower Mound campus, multi-site reality grows in earnest, continued growth and complexity
  • 2010: continued growth and complexity, staffing needs

This timeline only captures snapshots of the change we’ve experienced. The church’s leadership has been both reactive and proactive. The ever-changing environment oftentimes forced the issue, while prayerful forecasting produced proactive change. Change always brings an element of discomfort and unknown, but the alternative is often complacency, irrelevancy or stagnation.

We do not change for changes sake; rather, we believe that the Lord is leading our church in a direction, and we want to follow. We have continually prayed for wisdom and have sensed His leading by observing the environment of The Village Church, engaging in conversations with those who have gone before us, and honest dialogue among the elders.

The impetus for the staff organizational change was recognition that our current staff model is not structured to lead us moving forward. We believe the future holds great opportunity for The Village to see our members grow in gospel-centered living, express and extend Christ to their communities, steward future growth and complexity, while continuing to wade into the waters of being a resourcing church. For these hopes to be realized, we need to make several key directional and structural shifts:

  1. Vocational elder leadership—We desire to have staff elders represent church-wide staff leadership as an extension of the elders as a whole. The Scriptures are clear that the elders are charged with overall church teaching, governance, direction, care and leadership.
  2. Expanded executive staff—We desire to have the executive staff increase in size and have more elder representation; therefore, campus pastors will also be on the executive team along with finance/administration, communications and operations. This allows for ministry leadership to model collaboration with ministry services.
  3. Campus empowerment through decentralized ministries—We desire to have the ground-level direction of ministry be at the discretion of the campuses. Decentralized ministry enables the campuses to contextualize with more fluidity, leverage specific strengths, shore-up specific weaknesses, empower campus-specific staff to innovate leadership, and clarifies authority and expectations.
  4. Simplified, flexible structure—We desire to have a staff structure that is simpler and more nimble for future change. Each year the Lord has brought new challenges and changes, so we want to be poised to receive what He has for us next. We believe this structure enables us flexibility and simplicity.
  5. One Church, multiple campuses—We desire to be one church in multiple locations. Our “oneness” is demonstrated through:
    1. One name
    2. One eldership
    3. One staff
    4. One mission, vision and philosophy
    5. One teaching and membership
    6. One budget