vision

Posted: January 4, 2016 in Uncategorized

Yesterday was “vision Sunday” at our church.  This is a thing that happens twice a year since, as my pastors point out, “vision leaks.”  I take this as meaning we don’t default to honing in on vision – left to our own devices, we come up with great ideas and then we don’t do the things we need to do in order to make those ideas come to pass – we just keep doing things in a way that “makes sense to us” or because “we’ve always done it this way.”

It has also been my own observation out there in life in general that people tend to think “vision” is one of those things for only a few people to think about – people with jobs at desks, people who don’t do the “getting your hands dirty” work of life, people whose jobs might even seem superfluous as compared to the jobs of those who “work for a living.”  Still, there is scripture that says God’s people perish for lack of vision, so it’s not just an unimportant theoretical thing.  We are supposed to do this vision thing.  We are supposed to make our daily choices based on a bigger vision.

I’m taking a few moments to note the vision here, partly to share with you  (it’s so good that it’s worth sharing and worth borrowing) and partly to save this important information in a place where I can easily find it, as I work to check in throughout the year on how I’m doing on it.  The main points of the vision for our church are as follows.

Spiritually engaged – there is the realm of everyday life and circumstances, but beyond that, there is a spiritual realm, and that is where important stuff is happening that is guiding and directing all else.  The spiritual realm is true reality, whereas the physical realm is the veil pulled over that reality.  Much of the time when we are struggling, it has to do with what’s happening in the spiritual realm – we have an enemy who works always to kill, steal, and destroy.  When we are spiritually engaged, we are aware of this and doing the important work of battling it.  This is a point I make so often to so many people that I begin to feel like folks are probably tired of hearing it, as they struggle with circumstances and fail to account for the fact that they are being tempted to give up or give in.  The spiritual battle isn’t the only thing, but it’s bigger than most would guess.

Refreshingly authentic – the desire to be real and not show up with fake church faces pasted on is one of my favorite things about my church.  Our pastors are pretty relentless in pushing us toward authenticity.  Authentic people say what they mean and mean what they say.  They create safe space for others by just being who they are rather than pretending to be what they believe someone thinks they should be.  They share the struggle aloud, rather than pretending to have it all down.  They are not the “hypocrites in church” that are one of the favored tropes of those who don’t do organized religion.

Intentionally relevant – our pastor warned us not to hide out in our “Christian ghetto,” speaking Christianese, huddled in and only about ourselves, stoking up the “us vs. them” conversation that can be so prevalent out there among evangelicals in the USA. To me, this point boils down to that business in 1 Corinthians 9:22 about becoming all things to all people, that some might be saved.

Generously loving – in the first four years of our church, this has looked like building a water well in a third-world country, like buying a herd of goats for an orphanage in a third-world country, like putting on a free camp where foster kids get treated like royalty (this summer will be our third time of that), like shoveling driveways in the neighborhood, like putting on a free “bake sale,” like handing out hats, gloves, socks and hand-warmers at a local homeless shelter, like passing out cookies on Christmas Eve to those who have to work, like holding cookouts and inviting in all the neighbors, like a giant Halloween blowout that the neighborhood kids have come to look forward to, like groups traveling to serve in conjunction with a pastor located in Haiti, and more.  Our pastors never stop encouraging us to love the world around us in action and not only words.

Ruthlessly trusting – I have to say, this is my favorite new phrase.  Trusting God when it seems like all is lost.  Following Him when it makes no sense.  Believing Him when discouragement seems the only realistic reaction to circumstances.

That’s the vision for our church.  It’s why I know I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be.  I’m excited to see what God is going to do in the coming year, and how this vision is going to help us see the path as He illuminates it.

 

 

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