• Again, “leaders in every generation have been distinguished as those with ability to see in the mind’s eye what others cannot yet imagine.” The question, then, is how is their imagination quickened? It all starts with spending quality time with Jesus. To do this one must develop eyes to see what Jesus is already doing in the midst of a congregation. Give prayerful thought to the following questions:
o Who has he assembled in this place and what gifts are predominate?
o How are these gifts currently being expressed?
o Who is already being blessed?
o What is Jesus doing in the lives of those in the (surrounding geographical) community that he is preparing to be part of this congregation?
o What changes in the surrounding community past, present, or future impacts the opportunities for ministry?
o In other words, what is the Lord of the Church already doing to extend his reign over the lives of persons in this congregation and in the community?
o Then the question is, how do we join Him?
• As leaders develop the eyes to see Jesus in the “fields white for harvest,” and mobilize people and resources to reap the harvest he has prepared, the vision for ministry will be clearly visible and the congregation will be contagious with it.
• Methods, strategies, and ministries follow vision. Innovative ways of doing ministry are needed to realize Christ’s vision for a particular congregation. Each congregation has a unique opportunity to contribute to the completion of the making of disciples of panta ta ethne. This is because the opportunities before each congregation are unique to where God has positioned them, at a particular time, with the resources to bear fruit for the Kingdom.
• “Can vision be induced?” “Are there tools, concepts, and practices that can be trusted to help leaders weave the threads of their dreams into the tapestry of tomorrow’s reality? Are there rational tools, with a logic that can be followed?”
• Vision can, indeed, be induced. The Apostle Paul spent a great deal of his time persuading (inducing) a vision for the completion of the Great Commission. His vision was simply Jesus – to know him and the power of his resurrection realized on earth. Paul’s primary strategy was to incarnate himself and those who followed Jesus within every culture, society, and network of persons through which the gospel could be communicated most effectively. Becoming all things to all people that by all means he might win some.
• Vision for the ministry of any particular congregation is seeing how their ministry can most effectively be incarnated. Leaders contend for this and persuade others to pay the price.
• However, there can be a pattern of insidious trends that capture a congregation over time that need to be identified and repented of. Until this ground is covered, few will pay the price of change necessary to incarnate their ministry. These trends hold the congregation captive to the old paradigm. New forms, tools, concepts and practices are not usually accepted by a rational process or persuaded by logic. The emotional attachment to the old and fear of loss overrides the rational process. The old paradigm for ministry must be revealed as inadequate to exploit the new opportunities to expand the Kingdom. Israel had to give up the paradigm of a “temple cult” captured by legalism and the traditions men. Jesus fulfilled all that was good in the old paradigm and replaced it with a new paradigm of bring the Kingdom to earth, which included persons from all peoples. Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount gave the new forms, tools, concepts and practices of the Kingdom. He contrasted the old paradigm with the new.
• The old forms, tools, concepts and practices of westernized Christendom are woven into a tapestry of yesterday’s reality. This tends to blind church leaders to the present reality. This is why a Kingdom intervention is often necessary. Tomorrow’s reality will be woven from what the church sees Jesus doing in the present reality and from what it learns from joining with him as he is incarnated in the new opportunities for making disciples of all peoples. Just as Peter saw God do a new thing with Cornelius and his household, and through the Apostle Paul’s ministry among the Gentiles, the church must see new forms, tools, concepts and practices that allow the incarnation of its ministry within those “fields white for harvest” where Jesus stands and calls us to join Him.