How Mile-Markers Add Traction to Vision

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Originally posted March 1, 2011

A recent post by Seth Godin contains a nugget that could add rocket-fuel to church leaders across Canada casting vision to those they lead.

In his brief, but insightful post, Godin wrote:

A powerful marketing tactic: tell me exactly when I’m going to get it.

“This project will be done noon on Tuesday.”

“You’ll get the shipment at 4 pm.”

Fedex has made billions shipping packages that didn’t even have to be there fast, they merely needed to arrive at a time that we knew about in advance.


What Godin has hit upon is that people respond best when given more than a statement about good intentions; they respond best when those intentions are undergirded by firm mile-markers.

This is what impacted so many of us in doing the research for our 2010 book, Going Missional; Conversations with 13 Canadian Churches Who Have Embraced Missional Life. This book, co-produced by The Leadership Centre Willow Creek Canada and World Vision Canada, tells story after story of Canadian church leaders who moved their congregations in bold new directions by casting visions supported by meaningful benchmarks.

For example, at New Life Church in Duncan, B.C., God was stirring something in the heart of lead pastor Mark Buchanan. He wanted to see their church build a relational bridge into the region’s Cowichan First Nation band. But what moved the congregation to action was not simply a passionate vision; it was a plan supported by mile-markers.

When casting vision Mark added, “Our first step will be to help churches in our region better understand the Cowichan community. We’ll do this by hosting a series of ‘Understanding the Nations’ workshops.”

With that kind measurable clarity, more than 1000 people responded. The vision gained traction, and the first step in a long journey was celebrated.

I’ve learned from effective leaders that when you’re casting vision for your congregation, your people need to know not only what hill you’re going to take, but also what the early mile-markers of progress will be.

It’s worked for FedEx; and effective church leaders have seen it translate into huge Kingdom wins.

How have you incorporated mile-markers into your vision casting?

the author

Scott Cochrane


  1. We’ve incorporated a mile-marker strategy by using simple, workable timelines with clear goals. A big highlight for us is making to sure to celebrate and party when the mile-markers are met. We use the SMART acronym to help our goal setting.

  2. “Celebration” is a key piece Jeremy. It’s one thing to achieve a mile-marker, but momentum is gained when we stop to acknowledge the achievement. Maybe it’s because we don’t want to appear as ‘prideful’, but I think as church leaders (especially in Canada) we need to learn how to throw a good party more often.

  3. Scott,

    This reminds me of Bill Hybels keynote at the leadership summit last year–getting from here to there. That was a fabulous session and I review the notes often.

  4. Heather; Hybels really hammered that point, didn’t he? I too remember it well (as well as remembering bumping into you in the lobby at Portico!)

  5. Scott,
    Why is it hard for Canadians especially to celebrate victories? I don’t have much context outside of Canada so I’m a little surprised that you mention it.

  6. Jeremy, Canadians tend to be a bit more reserved in some respects. There are many positives with this, but it can make us a bit less inclined to ‘party’.

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