How well do leaders embrace their church’s vision?

Nearly nine in 10 leaders are confident that their church can achieve its vision.

It’s one thing to consider how church attenders—the people in the pews each week—understand and commit to the vision of their local churches, but what about the leaders? Do church leaders and those in leadership teams understand and embrace their church’s vision? 

The 2021 National Church Life Survey (2021 NCLS) Leader Survey, invited ordained and lay leaders, full-time, part-time and volunteer leaders, to respond to questions about their levels of awareness, commitment and confidence in the church’s vision for its ministry and mission.   

We unearthed some fascinating trends. While four in 10 leaders are strongly committed to their church’s vision and another three in 10  are partly committed, one in 10 leaders are not aware of their church’s vision. A small group (8%) know about the vision but are not committed to it.

There is certainly room for growth here. Given leadership often involves motivating and guiding a group of people toward a shared goal, it seems counterintuitive that a person in leadership might not be aware of the vision of their church. It is possible that for a small group of leaders other factors might impact their lack of commitment to their church’s vision. 

Perhaps if leaders can find ways to share and discuss the church’s vision with their attenders and their leadership teams, or to envision together in a collaborative process, it could help the whole faith community own that vision. The community could then gain focus and move towards their goals together. We know that a clear and owned vision is a key to strengthening church vitality.



We also asked leaders if they had confidence in their church’s ability to achieve its vision. The survey showed that the vast majority, nearly nine in 10  leaders, are confident that their church can meet its goals (of these, 46% are partly confident and 39% are fully confident).

This rate of confidence amongst leaders (85%) is greater than the confidence found amongst church attenders (79%), however higher percentages of church attenders are fully confident (43%) than leaders (39%).



If leaders of faith communities want to build capacity and commitment within their congregations to meet the vision of the community, then leaders as well as church attenders need to be encouraged, equipped and inspired to have a vision that is both clear and owned.

Leaders who understand where they are going and how to get there, may in turn inspire and encourage collective confidence in a vision or mission. If a congregation wants to thrive, it can be an important step to build knowledge of, confidence in, and ownership of their vision amongst their leadership as well as their attenders.

Data Sources:

2021 National Church Life Survey, Leader Survey (n=5,906)

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