In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, we find the reason for the existence of the church: to reconcile the world to God. Our task, then, is to help people learn how to draw closer to God.
How do we do that? A lot of folks will tell us, “Your church needs a vision.” We might adopt a mission statement. But many churches that have broken out of stagnation and decline have found the opposite: don’t seek to discover a vision; let the vision discover you.
Churches that have broken out into new ground and faith have found that the intersection of the following factors will help a vision discover a church:
1. Passion of the church’s leadership. If a pastor and church leaders disciple their flock, evangelism and spiritual growth will become a regular part of their lives and witness.
2. Congregational Gifts and Passions. Ministry is pursued according to the gifts and passions God gives to church members, and the church’s atmosphere encourages and nurtures such to happen.
3. Needs of the Community. John Wesley made it clear: the world is our parish. The book of Acts reminds us that we are to be Christ’s witnesses in the world. Whatever we do in Christ’s name must include the world, and seeks to provide for the community without expecting anything in return. We have to be passionate about our community!
The implications are many: We can only choose a few areas where we excel; if we try to do everything, we will do little of it well. It also means that since none of the three above factors are consistently constant, our vision will never be constant; leadership changes, membership changes, and communities change. Rather than be static, our vision will be dynamic. God is always leading us down new paths.
“I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is to try to please everyone.” – Bill Cosby
God – and his children - are the ones we ultimately serve. God’s vision for us will find us if we are willing to be found!
Most of these ideas came from Breakout Churches: Discover How to Make the Leap, by Thom S. Rainer.