God does not necessarily want your congregation to be successful, to grow big, to compete with others churches, to be the church with the best reputation, to have the most beautiful buildings, to have the friendliest people, to have the most outstanding preacher, to have significant missional engagement, or to be the best at reaching young adult families.
That is, unless it is God’s vision for your congregation. God much prefers for you to be a congregation which lives into its God-given vision rather than a congregation which sets its goals and then asks God to bless them.
For congregations who are captivated by God’s vision it is all about God rather than about the congregation. It is not about “me” where “me” is the congregation. It is not about having the same vision as the congregation down the street. It not about unanimous congregational support for God’s vision. It is not about a journey with an end point where congregations can declare they are finished.
Here are some insights that speak to my perspective on congregations, God’s role in vision, and the “me” factor. They are a continuation of insights on various themes that were contained in previous posts. To see the prior insights go here.
Vision Insight 012: The word vision contains neither the letter “m” nor the letter “e.” Vision is not about “me.” It is about God.
We should never boast that we have a vision, or that we are successfully fulfilling that vision. We should always boast in the Lord, and thank God for all that is happening within and around us as we work to fulfill God’s vision for our congregation.
Vision is never about “me.” It is always about what God desires to do in and through “me.” It is about what God desires to do in and through our congregation.
“Look at me and what I have done,” is always an indicator leaders have not truly been captivated by God’s vision, but desire people to agree with their vision.
Vision Insight 013: Do not confuse our eternal mission, your everlasting purpose and your enduring core values with God’s empowering vision.
These four are distinctive aspects of the spiritual and strategy journey of a congregation. Our eternal mission is God’s mission that we most commonly know through the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. Mark 16:15 and Mark 12:22, coupled with Luke 4:18-19, are for many people the best biblical representations the Commission and the Commandment.
Purpose speaks to the historic reason why a given congregation was launched in a particular location among a particular group of people. Enduring core values speak into key theological, ethical and cultural values that are closely held by a congregation.
Vision Insight 014: Vision is specific to your congregation. Mission is transferable to many congregations in your denominational family.
A key difference between mission and vision is that God’s mission, although powerful and sure, is general in the sense that it is applicable to every congregation. All Christianity seeks to faithfully fulfill the mission of God.
Vision, however, must be specifically stated or clearly implied in terms that are unique to each congregation. What is it that God is calling your congregation to be and do over the next seven to nine years? How would you state vision keeping in mind the context where God has placed you?
Vision Insight 015: Even if only a small percentage of leaders in your congregation are visionaries, God still has a perfect vision for you.
The ability to have vision does not depend on a large number of visionaries being present in your congregation. Of course, the more visionaries you have the more likely you are to be captivated by and living into vision within your congregation.
We know that if at least 7 percent of the active, attending congregation is captivated by God’s vision for the congregation there is a greater chance vision will be embraced by the congregation.
Vision Insight 016: Vision is about pressing on towards the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. (See Philippians 3:14.)
A spiritual and strategic journey is like a race we are running at the speed of God’s leadership and our discernment of God’s leadership. Often vision does not come all at once. It is likely felt and experienced over a certain period of time. It sharpens, and even partially changes its focus from time-to-time.
Therefore, congregations cannot say they have arrived, completed or fulfilled their vision. It is a spiritual and strategic journey. It does not have a finite distance. It can have an infinite impact.
This is the seventh in a series of posts on congregational vision. To see all the posts go here. Look for the next post entitled “With God as our source congregational vision is more than numbers.”