How Vision is Achieved – Pt 3 of 3

• In light of the above, perhaps a rational process for inducing a new vision would involve:
o A Kingdom intervention (objective picture of the present reality and opportunities together with recommendations for change from a Kingdom perspective).
o Clarification of core values and mission and linking these with the new paradigm.
o Recognize Jesus in new forms, tools, concepts, and practices that allow incarnation in the present opportunity.
o A clear statement of the new vision and paradigm for doing ministry (functional equivalent of the Apostle Paul’s presentation to the Jerusalem Council and epistle to the Romans).
o Securing permission from the church to begin working from the new paradigm while leaving the old in place for those who cannot change at this time (as Paul gained permission to work among the Gentiles without Jewish forms)
o Reporting back the things God is doing in fulfilling the vision thus legitimizing the new paradigm for ministry.

How Vision is Achieved – Pt 2 of 3 (or 4)

• 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.

How Vision is Achieved – Pt 1 of 3 (or 4)

A couple of things…I stopped blogging a while back and I’ve started back up again. I didn’t have the foresight to save my earlier posts, so I’m really starting over.

I’ve recently done some fresh thinking on the issue of attaining vision. This will be a 3-4 part post. I should mention that I am grateful for the thinking, writing, and friendship of Dr. Bob Brady – a long-time mentor of mine.

Here’s my equation for the work that needs to be done: Values + Mission = Vision

Values = Abstract qualities that we prize.

Mission
= What we are here to do and our unique approach to the enterprise we are in.

A mission statement is text that states the chief activity that the organization wishes to engage in and gives specific guidance on the direction the organization should take in regard to programs, services, and activities. Additionally, the law obligates the trustees/board of the organization to limit their activities to those covered by the mission statement.

Vision = A description of the reality you expect to create; it is the discovery of God’s will for a congregation.

We don’t DECIDE on a vision, we DISCOVER vision through commingling core explicit values with the organizational mission.

Preliminary Thoughts How Vision is Achieved:

• From more sophisticated uses of the imaginative capabilities of our minds to our inner ears seeking to be more attuned to the voice of the Holy Spirit — the path to vision will be discovered. How we have learned to think about ministry in times past will require, of some, extensive relearning in order to cope with the kinds of discontinuity forecast for the future.

• Leaders in every generation have been distinguished as those with ability to see in the mind’s eye what others cannot yet imagine. 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 these rational tools, with a logic that can be followed? Or, must we wait in a desert without foresight until a burning bush signals a new order? “The future ain’t what it used to be,” and that’s the good news. Much of tomorrow is waiting for someone to invent it.

Some Noteworthy Quotes:
• “Every institution is perfectly positioned to obtain the results it is currently achieving.”

• Leadership: the process of aligning a church to God’s mission and vision.

• The gospel is primarily something to be embodied and proclaimed, rather than a set of beliefs that people assent to intellectually.

Further Thoughts
• The underlying presupposition is that Jesus Christ is the chief shepherd and vision caster, and that he has a definitive future for every congregation that he is working out. The task of church leaders is to join with him as co-laborers in the realization of his kingdom at a particular place and time with the resources and opportunities he provides.

• If this is true, then it follows that one of the main hindrances to the realization of Christ’s kingdom through a particular congregation is failure to let Christ be the head of his body in that place. This can take several forms:

o Unqualified leaders who are incapable of providing examples of Christlikeness and authentic discipleship.

o Structure/Systems that work against community building and one-another relationships.

o Misuse of resources both financial and the spiritual gifts of the Body.

o Protection of the vested interests of members overshadows the needs of the lost.
o Unresolved conflict that poisons the fellowship.

o Failure to mobilize the power of prayer in seeking God’s will.

• Now, assuming all the above are addressed and corrected as needed, how is a vision discovered by biblical leaders who are following Jesus Christ and desire as first priority the realization of His kingdom through their congregation?