In this episode of The Church Planting Podcast, church planter Brandon Grant talks with Greg about casting a vision that keeps your church aligned with God’s call.

Brandon Grant

Brandon Grant is the lead pastor of Rise City Church in Lakeside, CA (east county San Diego). He and his wife, Jamie, moved out west from IL to plant the church through Stadia in 2013. Since it’slaunch, Rise City has been used by God to see over 300 people baptized, the planting of 6 new churches (4 in SD, 1 in Bolivia, 1 in Peru), an average weekly attendance of just under 1,000, and they’ve been able to give away over $1 million to local and global initiatives. Brandon and Jamie have four children -Elyse (9), Shepherd (6), Hope (4) and Connor (2).

Casting Compelling Vision as a Success Factor

  • Casting compelling vision is the ability to convince others that what isn’t yet will be, and to inspire them to give their best toward realizing big, yet clear, goals. 
  • An effective church planter sees the reality before others do, and convinces them of the need and the opportunity for anew church focused on making disciples in this place and among these people.
  • An effective church planter can communicate what matters most through all the noise, and can inspire people to go beyond watching and actually become part of God’s mission as partners who give generously of their resources and sacrificially of their time.
  • An effective church planter understands the connection between impact they can make and clarity of expressing their vision.

Your Personal Vision

We saw the beauty and the brokenness in this area. We were overwhelmed by how few churches there were in the San Diego area, and so the vision started by recognizing the need. 

 What Do You Do to Fulfill the Vision?

Get Your Feet on the Ground. Meet people, learn the culture, find out what was going on in the area we were going to plant. Go to coffee shops, chat with neighbors – and ask questions. As we listened, we were able to figure out how the Gospel could address those needs – and that understanding helped form the language for our church! Our four language anchors came from asking, “How does the Gospel address the felt needs of the area where we live?”

 How Did You Choose Your Name?

We were going to be Auxono – to grow, increase, and spread. But a few comments changed our minds — like,

  • “What the heck does that mean?” 
  • “Do you think you’re smarter than us?” 
  • “How will I spell that to Google it?”

There is a reputation that this area of San Diego is kind of the “armpit” of the area. People have a complex about their reputation, and it put us in mind of “How can any good come out of Nazareth?” So we thought, “This city is going to rise and make a difference when people least expect it.”  Hence, Rise City!

How Often Do You Talk About Vision?

All the time! A loving, life-giving church that brings hope and healing in Jesus’ name. Is what we’re doing loving? Life-giving? Are we showing Jesus’ hope and healing?
We also use this benediction each week: May we wake up to Jesus, rise to life, and shine to others. Then everything we speak from stage applies to a part of that message. We want people to grab onto it so it becomes really practical. 

The Process of Finding the Right Name

Float the names to people in the community who you hope will be a part of your church! If they don’t resonate, it’s not gonna work. I asked my neighbor who has never had anything to do with church except attending ours on launch Sunday – he picked Rise City from the list I presented, and we think God used that selection. You need to listen to the people you’re trying to reach and let them help you pick the name.

 Does the Vision Change?

The vision itself has not changed, but how it plays out has begun to change. As we grow and are more known and have more influence in the community, our vision is bigger. How can we infiltrate the surrounding areas? How can we live out our vision on a larger scale? This is what brought us to start the San Diego Church Planting Movement! ( So we use the same language, because we can always do those things – it’s open-ended. But the manifestation of that continues to grow. If it didn’t, we would stop growing. 
(GN) Vision doesn’t change, but it expands!

 How Important Was Your Wife in Developing the Vision?

God called BOTH of us to plant, even though we aren’t both pastors. Jamie helps me not just create the vision, but stay in pace with the vision. We constantly talk about if our events and activities adhered to our vision. I don’t know where we would be without her.

 Your Gifted Building!

Humility was the anchor, for us and for the pastors who gifted the space to us. Mixing the older generation with our then-current membership made our congregation more robust. It’s amazing to see when people put their egos and pride aside fo the sake of the kingdom, what God can do through that, but also, the story it tells to the community. 
(GN) If we have a vision FROM GOD, God is going to help. He is working behind the scenes on our behalf to make that vision happen.

 Casting Vision While Merging Congregations

I shared our mission & vision with the other staff, and we were very strong on staying true to Rise’s vision. But we had to listen to Harvest’s staff, too- to hear their heart, what they valued, and how that could fit into our existing vision. Our men’s and women’s ministry was brought in from Harvest – but some of their ministries did not transfer into Rise City’s culture. 
I also wrote a prospectus to give clarity. It helped move people forward and bring people in. 
Part of vision is listening, feeling, praying, and then communicating clearly and moving forward.

 Your Vision For Your Family

I think my vision casting is better in organizational formats than in my family. Our family is more values driven than vision based. Honor, humility, honesty – those are our big values.
Our vision is to have all my kids come to Jesus, to love being around each other when we’re older – but we tell our kids that our relationships have to be intact or restored. It exists, but isn’t crafted officially!

 Casting Vision & Raising Resources

Having a clearly laid out vision in different formats helped our potential investors know that we were thinking forward and prepared to use their money in appropriate ways. This isn’t just a whim. Planning and preparation is part of being Spirit-led.
 A lot of planters don’t do the hard work of wrestling with their own vision statements instead of just borrowing something else. Potential investors resonate more when they see something fresh and unique (and not just a copy of Stanley’s or Furtick’s).
(GN) When people see a genuine vision that comes from God through your heart, they’re compelled to partner. And when people say no, it helps us to release it, because we KNOW what God has called us to!

 What Do You Wish You’d Known About Vision?

Believing that relationships are from God and that marriage is to be honored and sacred above all else. The vision God gives you for your church needs to honor your family. I needed to do a better job of creating margin and boundaries earlier and set different precedents on to be able to move further with our vision. It gets more taxing as you go, so if you’ve not done the hard work of aligning your family to carry out the vision with you, you might find yourself alone in that weight. You should be practicing boundaries as you’re writing your vision so the vision is fulfilled with your family still intact.

Additional Resources