“Where there is no vision, the people perish.” –Every Preacher who’s ever talked about vision. (also a Proverb)
This Month, I’d like to dedicate Thursdays to talk about the importance of vision in churches, and how to go about discerning what your church vision could be. Over the next couple of weeks, look forward to Steve Cloer and Josh Ross talking about practical ways of doing this.
I know that vision and leadership are a bit of buzzwords these days, but don’t immediately write this off, because I think that vision is the only way churches can lead without over-emphasizing and abusing power. Let me explain:
The work in a church is one of the best and most frustrating jobs there is. It’s incredibly rewarding getting to speak and minister to people that you love and mobilize a group of people toward a common objective. It can also be very frustrating, because this group of people who you are ministering to might not think of church the same way you do.
If you have a church of a hundred different people, chances are you have at least 100 different expectations about what church should be about, what your services should look like, what kind of sermon you should preach..etc.
And there are two ways to going about how to minister through these differences. 1) is to turn internally, and help them see that they are a part of a community, and each time they gather they must submit their individual needs and preferences to the community. That’s a good response. But alone, I think it fails. 2) Cast a vision larger than your organization.
Externally Focused Churches
In his book A Righteous Mind, Jonathan Haidt, refers to the research done a few years ago. A group had surveyed 19th century communes, and they discovered that the ones that lasted had two common themes.
1) They were religious.
2) They asked for great sacrifice. More specifically, they didn’t ask people to sacrifice for the sake of the group, but for the sake of something larger than the group.
Martin Luther describes sin, as curving in on oneself. And if that’s the case then churches have a tendency to be extremely sinful. Over time, every institution has this slow bend to focus on itself, to focus internally and make sure that , but that’s not their fault. It would be extremely hard for them to change this.
One of the things about being the preacher at a church is that, chances are, you are in more meetings with more people than anyone else. You are visiting with people in the city, and people hurting in your church. You know some civic leaders and have shepherds who are in every part of your community.
Any authority that you have, has to start here: Leadership comes from people who see the big picture.
You see what the community needs, and what the church needs. You see the potential of what could happen if the people of the congregation could point all of their resources in the same direction.
You see it. But they don’t.
They’re not in the meetings, they don’t know the mayor, they’re not thinking about the girl who was sexually abused in their congregation, because they don’t know her story. They don’t know that the recent change about nursery workers has to do with that, because they don’t see everything.
So don’t get frustrated, work on vision.