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Vision to Reality

Written by Greg Perkins, Director of Church Development

It was the Fall of 1979. I was a high school freshman, and our church youth group was attending a youth rally in Madison, Wisconsin, where Sam Farina was the speaker.  I cannot say that I remember much of the service or even the message (Sorry Sam), but I do remember what happened during the altar call like it was yesterday.


I remember the tear drops on the altar beneath my head.  I remember hearing “I Surrender All” being sung.  And I remember saying “yes” to God’s call to ministry.  I also remember what God showed me that night.  This might sound weird, but I distinctly remember God handing me a photo album that contained images of what ministry would look like in the years ahead.  It was a VISION of what God was calling me to pursue.  I didn’t think about that photo album much in the years that followed, but would occasionally have an experience that seemed familiar to me—like I had seen that place or been there before.

Pursue the Vision

I attended Bible college, met and married my wife (Di Ann), and actively pursued ministry.  In January of 1992, my wife and I were elected to pastor our first church in Marshfield, Missouri at 26 years of age.  First Assembly, as it was known then, was not only on the opposite side of the tracks, it was literally located beside the railroad tracks in a building that was over 70 years old.  They desperately needed to relocate.  The church had already purchased land in a growing area of town, but we had only a little money and a small congregation.  Looking back on it now, all we really had was a VISION for what COULD BE, if we worked together.

We assembled a building committee, established our plans, and set goals for the things we needed to achieve along the way, and God was truly faithful.  He blessed our church with new people and increased finances nearly every month for two years until we were able to break ground on a new facility in the Spring of 1994.  As the last few goals were achieved and construction began, I remember visiting the construction site frequently and feeling excited…but also feeling there was something strangely familiar about it all.

Achieve Reality

In November of 1994, the construction of the new facility was complete.  I vividly recall walking into the sanctuary for the first time with the pulpit and new seating in place.  I took a long, deep breath as I looked around our new place of worship and I immediately began to weep.  While it was my first time to see it physically complete, I had been there before.  In that moment, the VISION had become REALITY.  The sights, the smells, and the feel of this new space was something God had shown me fifteen years before…at an altar…in Madison, Wisconsin.

What’s the point of my story?  Simply put, VISION does not automatically become REALITY unless you actively, consistently, and methodically pursue it.  The VISION of what “could be” will never become something you can see, smell, or feel unless you take the necessary steps to achieve it.

If this is something you and your church struggle with, maybe we can help. Our district’s 5-Step development process is designed to help churches that are in a state of plateau or decline to actively, consistently, and methodically pursue a fresh vision and make it a reality.   Contact the SMD Church Development office to see what resources are available to help your church.  Let’s work together to see VISION become REALITY…in YOUR church…and in OUR District!

 This article originally appeared in the Southern Missouri District Messenger and is used with permission. 

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