The Vision thing

Vision is something you hear a lot of nowdays in Pentecostal circles.  Apparently you are supposed to have it, or at least follow someone else’s.  Phil Pringle blogs about the importance of getting a vision.  Someone mentioned “vision-casting” and I noticed that Rick Warren describes his own leadership in that way:

“I know my leadership style. I am a big-picture, vision-casting leader. Details don’t hold much appeal for me.

…. There is nothing inherently right or wrong about being a vision-casting leader. It is simply the way God wired me. He may have wired you differently.” Pastors who lead the way

In that article Warren quotes Management gurus as much as he quotes the Bible, and its clear that Warren’s methodologies owe a debt to Peter Drucker and other organisational  theorists.  He claims the vision-casting title for himself but then says that you may be wired differently.

The problem with the vision theory is that it relies on one person.  You can’t have a hundred different visions in your church so you end up following the one vision of one leader.  Is this what the five-fold leadership was supposed to be?    Were there supposed to be five-different types of ministries distributed throughout the church or was there supposed to be one visionary operating in the five-fold ministry?


71 thoughts on “The Vision thing

  1. The just live by faith. Faith is the substance of things hoped for. Hope is our vision of the future, the roadmap to eternal life, the blueprint for the New Creation, the anchor of our soul. Without hope, what do we have to live for? Without a vision people perish.

    Prophecy is vision casting, and is evident throughout scripture. God does nothing unless he first reveals it through his sons the prophets. Under the New Testament the Spirit is poured out upon all flesh, and all prophesy. This is who we are in who He is.

    ‘We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.’

    “Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

    You cannot proceed or continue on a journey of faith without a vision.

  2. “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained, But happy is he who keeps the law.” (Proverbs 29:18)

    “Biblical Vision. The process of redefining the church includes redefining terms that are found in the Bible. A key term that Rick Warren and his followers redefine is “vision.” The passage cited above is often misunderstood because of this phrase in the KJV, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18a). This is taken to mean, “a corporate idea of an optimal future for the church.” But as the full citation from the NASB shows, we have an example of Hebrew parallelism. The Psalms and Proverbs are full of synonymous and antithetical parallelisms. This simply means stating an idea, then restating it in synonymous terms, or stating an idea and then stating the opposite. Proverbs 29:18 is an antithetical parallelism. The contrast is between different outcomes when there is or is not “vision.” In making the contrast, the terms “vision” and “law” are used synonymously. So the “vision” was God’s vision which is His revealed law.

    Many years ago a preacher came to our church and preached on “vision,” citing this passage. His point was that our congregation needed to know what our vision was for our corporate future—how we were going to have an impact on those around us and what we would look like when that happens. His claim was that if we did not have a focused vision for our local church, we would perish. At the time, I did not understand Hebrew parallelism like I do now so I could not see the error of his Biblical interpretation. However, I felt that the teaching was somehow off base, thinking that all churches had the same vision because it had been given once for all by Christ. When I heard that message I lacked a mental image of an optimal future for this organization. All I had was the gospel to preach and the Bible to teach. Now I realize that gospel preaching and Bible teaching ARE the vision for the church, just like the law was God’s vision for Old Covenant Israel.”

    Complete article here……..

    http://home.comcast.net/~jfl734/Volume_17_Number_3.mht

  3. Faithlift – prophecy is vision casting? Since when exactly?

    You then totally contradict that statement with a scripture that actually tells us what prophecy is: “…For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy…”
    Paul explains what prophecy is – “…But he that prophesies speaks unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort…”

    Much of the so-called vision casting going on in corporate churchianity amounts to anything but “comfort” and “edification” for the congregants and is more akin to the “binding heavy burdens” Christ warned of Matthew 23:4

  4. That’s interesting Teddy. I think God has prepared good works for us to walk in and the church is there to encourage us in that. So the church can reveal His Law or reveal Christ to us in order to equip us for our personal ministries.

    A lot of the tension felt in large churches is a result of the feeling of having to serve someone else’s vision. Corporate visions would therefore seem to hinder not enhance the walk and ministry of the individual believer.

  5. Interesting to read how a particular bible translation impacts on “Vision”

    “Where There Is No Vision… “(Proverbs 29:18)
    Tim Challies

    “One of my greatest passions in life is for history. When I was young I was more likely to be seen reading non-fiction than fiction, and it was natural that when it came time for post-secondary education, I elected to take history as my major. One aspect of history I particularly enjoyed was examining historical figures whom we tend to vilify to see if the reality matches our perception. Often I would find myself attempting to vindicate a particular historical figure who has been given unfair treatment in history. These days I find myself doing the same with Bible passages. There are multitudes of passages in Scripture that we use in a sense that, when given proper examination, is completely foreign to the true meaning of the passage. Today I will turn to one of these.

    Proverbs 29:18 is a verse that many Christians have latched onto, claiming that it provides biblical basis for the importance of vision in leadership. This passage is used, most notably, by leaders within the church growth movement. Consider this brief sampling of the usage of this verse:

    MY IMAGINATION INFLUENCES MY ASPIRATION. In other words, your dreams determine your destiny. To accomplish anything you must first have a mission, a goal, a hope, a vision. “Without a vision the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18.
    -Rick Warren (link).

    All memorable achievements were brought about by leaders who had vision. God uses visions to excite leaders because excited leaders get the most out of followers. Active followers accomplish much, and Christ’s Body keeps getting bigger thanks to prevailing local churches. That is why Proverbs 29:18 clearly states, “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Let a leader grasp a godly vision, and then watch God work.
    -Ken Godevenos (link)

    Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people are unrestrained.” They can’t focus, can’t reach their goal, can’t follow their dream. An older translation says, “Without vision, the people perish.” I’ve seen it with my own eyes – without vision, people lose the vitality that makes them feel alive.
    -Bill Hybels, Courageous Leadership, page 31

    In the workbook section of Transitioning, a text book for leading a church from a “program-driven” to purpose-driven model, Dan Southerland examines vision in the light of Proverbs 29:18, suggesting that we should interpret this verse in the present tense to read “Where there is no visioning…(page 177)” the people perish.

    Tony Morgan, pastor of Granger Community Church in South Bend, Indiana, quoting this passage, writes, “Without a planned destination, no one knows where to go. In churches, that leads to people doing ministry without a purpose. Programs drive these churches because no one has determined where the church is going. A vision statement paints a picture of the ideal future of your ministry and focuses prayer, energy, and resources.”

    What is this vision these church leaders are referring to? Southerland defines vision as “a picture of what God wants to do. Vision is a picture of what God will do in His church if we get out of His way and turn Him loose to do so” (Transitioning page 22). Hybels says that “vision is a picture of the future that produces passion” (Courageous Leadership, page 32).

    Vision, according to these authors, is an integral part of church leadership. A leader who does not cast and follow vision, leads his church towards destruction. The words “the people perish” is often interpreted by proponents of church growth to mean that churches without clear vision will lose members and be unable to numerically grow and flourish.

    But is that conclusion supported by this verse?

    It is interesting to note that all of the men have quoted the King James Version’s rendering of Proverbs 29:18, which reads “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” This is strange in that these men would never preach from the King James, nor would they recommend it for study or devotional reading. So why would they quote from this old translation? The answer becomes clear when we examine other translations:

    NIV – Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint
    NLT – When people do not accept divine guidance, they run wild
    CEV – Without guidance from God law and order disappear
    NKJV – Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint
    HCSB – Without revelation people run wild
    ESV – Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint
    AMP – Where there is no vision [no redemptive revelation of God], the people perish

    The New King James and some of the other translations footnote the alternate translation of “revelation,” saying that it can also mean “prophetic vision.” The Amplified works “redemptive revelation of God” into the text.

    Clearly the meaning of these contemporary translations is vastly different than the meaning that has been assigned to the King James’ rendering. The Hebrew word that is causing all the trouble is chazon which refers specifically to a prophetic vision. This is not vision in the sense of “a picture of the future that produces passion” and only a small amount of research into the text shows this to be true. Strong suggests the following meanings:

    a) vision (in ecstatic state)
    b) vision (in night)
    c) vision, oracle, prophecy (divine communication)
    d) vision (as title of book of prophecy)

    None of these can be used to support the type of vision these authors are suggesting. Furthermore, “perish” does not mean “die” but rather “cast off restraint.” The meaning of the verse is clear – Where there is no prophetic vision or revelation from God the people cast off restraint, no longer faithfully interpreting God’s Word and His Laws.

    We should also note that none of these authors we listed above have completed the verse. The King James renders the rest of the verse as follows: “but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” The ESV says “but blessed is he who keeps the law.” The word “but” contrasts something from the first clause and the second. Obviously, what is being contrasted is those who cast off restraint when there is no revelation from God with those who keep the Law regardless. This verse warns against turning from the revelations of God and promises blessing to those who honor Him.

    Conclusion

    It is possible that a brief, careless reading of one translation of the Bible could lead to confusion as to this verse’s meaning. But for anyone who rightly handles the Word of God, paying attention to the sense of the text and to the meaning of the specific words used, the meaning of this verse is obvious. This verse says nothing of the importance of having a church that is led by vision or a visionary. Ironically, this verse should underscore the importance of honoring God’s revelation, and warn those who would water it down by sloppy or deliberate misuse.”

  6. Just so FL doesn’t bring up the issue of “trawling” again, this is a great topic for discussion for those in churches where “vision-casting” plays a prominent role i.e. C3 and PP. Brings us back to Yonggi Cho’s influence on PP, and his book “The Fourth Dimension” (which I read and discarded years ago).

    I’ve been very interested in researching (not trawling) this for months now. And very troubled.

  7. What is Vision Casting?

    To catch a fish, you have to cast your line into the water in such a way as to attract the fish. To succeed in business, you have to cast your vision of the future far and wide in such a way as to attract, train, and retain employees who will see your vision to completion. Vision Casting, as it�s called, means making your idea of your company, department, or project known. And it works best when you cast your vision in a way that motivates, inspires, and encourages your employees; in other words, you need them to catch your vision and really believe in it, too.

    Effectively leading a company or even a team starts with creating a vision for your company. (There are entire books, recordings, seminars, and courses written on creating a vision or mission statement. Once you�ve got that down, it�s time to cast that vision out to your sea of employees.)

    The process isn�t necessarily easy, but it is necessary. In short, to cast your vision you�ll want to share your vision with those responsible for seeing it through; plan the best strategy for implementation; nurture your vision; and be persistent. A vision that is inspiring, believable, and personal will yield the best results, because these are the traits that inspire others to buy into your vision.

    http://www.beginnersguide.com/executive-coaching/vision-casting/what-is-vision-casting.php

    Vision casting is a corporate method for uniting people to work towards a common corporate vision. It is not prophesy in any biblical sense, unless we redefine prophesy.

    Vision casting is a methodology that can be used wisely or unwisely, with helpful or unhelpful effects on congregations.

    My feeling is that when people serve a corporate vision that takes precedence over the work of God in their individual lives, then it will be damaging. For example, if serving the vision results in a lack of love in the relationships in the congregation – if people are treated as cogs in a machine to achieve a goal, rather than valuable individual human beings whom God loves. If on the other hand, the vision is to build people up in their relationships with God and one another, with other things just flowing out of that, then it could be productive.

    Vision casting will happen any time a leader shares their vision. If the culture is one where the people are expected to be subservient to the leaders vision, we have a problem. If it is one where they can be a part of it if they wish, but are not pressured to, and are not judged if they pursue the different thing that God has put on their own hearts quite separately, then its probably not a problem.

    However, where a vision is regarded as indispensable to a church and is promoted as God’s Vision, spiritualised to the extent that it is no longer a helpful management technique but gains the highest spiritual authority, superseding any direction the Lord may have brought an individual to in their own walk, then it can come between a person and God.

  8. This is also where doctrines of submission and obedience come in as supporting doctrines for following the vision cast out by the leader. These doctrines are defined in a way that goes beyond mutual love and submission, and instead supports the rule of a leader over a congregation, however ‘softly’ that expectation is described. The ‘vision’ provides meaning and significance for each of the smaller works that congregation members are asked to do out of obedience. It can sound very scriptural, but when it is used to harness a group and effectively ‘rule over’ them, using coercive methods, then it’s not scriptural at all.

  9. The moral hazard for a leader using this package of doctrines and methods is rarely acknowledged or addressed. Touching not God’s anointed means questioning not any decisions or goals of the leader. So it is unchecked. This package is almost a necessity for any megachurch to continue to grow. By their nature, they need a lot of resources, both money and time, to exist. So its very hard for them to avoid the moral hazards.

    In a smaller congregation, the hazards still exist, but it may be easier for a leader to focus on building people rather than a church. God hasn’t called us to build the church; He said He would do that. We are called to make disciples, which means building one another up in love, to be like Him. Maybe there needs to be a distinction between groups set up to serve a particular mission purpose, with people drawn to serving that mission attending for that purpose, and ‘church’, which is the body of Christ, including all believers who have a variety of missions and works they are called to, but who can mutually build one another up to assist and support in that variety.

  10. It’s called the Great Commission not the great Vision!
    In the Great Commission, we are all called to step out in faith and spread the good news!

  11. What I like about this blog (and the original signposts) is how it makes the scales fall from my eyes. This is not the type of dialog that you can have in a home-group.

    Its apparent from the passages that Teddy has put up, that the Proverbs 29:18 quote “Where there is no vision the people perish” does not at all mean what it is normally taken to mean in Pentecostal churches.

    In the KJV is goes on “… but he that keeps the law, happy is he”

    I was a bit stunned to see that the NIV renders it as “Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law”

    Its obvious now that this is about revelation from God (in the law, and then by extension the Word of God in Jesus)

    It is not about corporate vision or vision-casting as we know it in 21st Century capitalist life. It is not about following someone’s ideas slavishly (with the implied threat that you may perish if you fail to). It is about studying the Word and applying that revelation to your life.

    This is another example where we apply the context of our current society and our meanings of a few key words to scripture incorrectly. And it is of course encouraged by some vested interests.

  12. Yes, that article Teddy put up is excellent.

    I don’t know how many times I heard PP quote, “Without a vision the people perish” – but I never read the King James Version, yet I knew this scripture by heart.

    The way Tim Challies reads it above is convincing. It also shows the error of applying a leaders ‘revelation’ when that is not God’s revelation.

    Teddy, I know what you mean when you say you feel very troubled by it. I find it upsetting when something so major (in our past environment) is shown to be such an error. It is heavily used, and has a huge impact on the choices people make about what they devote their time and money to. Sometimes I wonder what that time and money has been diverted from. Other times I wonder about the stress some families are under because of this diverting of their time and money, to things that they think they must do out of obedience and in support of these enormous visions. If the vision was to feed the hungry, it wouldn’t be such an issue, though still an issue if coercion was used. But frequently its the church building fund, to ‘glorify God’ via the edifice etc. And it goes on for years and years and years.

    A very worthwhile topic.

  13. I think I mentioned a while back that I read a note from one of our local churches, which seemed fine, but then I saw the reference to its ‘Vision’. This was a mainstream Anglican church. So this Vision stuff is certainly not just a Pentecostal phenomenon. Also, it does work, in terms of motivating people to generate church growth. So its easy to see why conventional churches might want to borrow it from the megachurches, who in turn borrowed it from the corporate world with great gusto. I know that God works all things for good, so its undoubtedly true that He will use the outworking to genuinely draw people to Himself. However, I wonder about the damage caused and the life in Him that is missed when errors like this are magnified to such a huge degree in church life.

  14. Blah-blah,
    ‘prophecy is vision casting? Since when exactly?’

    Since the day of Pentecost, for NT believers, at least.

    Acts 2:17
    “…it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.’

    There is no contradiction in what prophecy is.

    The testimony of Christ being the spirit of prophecy, contextually, refers to the angel telling John why he shouldn’t bow down and worship him, but to worship God, since the spirit of prophecy he came with in the Revelation of Christ to John testified to the risen and living Christ.

    The reference to prophecy contextualises the entire Revelation given to John, which foretold crucial and amazing events which must come to pass, some of which have taken place, and some of which are yet to come, but all of which testify to Christ, his being alive, his authority and power, his omnipotence, his innocence, his second coming, and the end of the ages.

    Vision: The faculty or state of being able to see; the ability to think about or plan the future with imagination or wisdom; the mental image of what the future will or could be like, form ‘videre’ ‘to see’.

    What, then, is your immense difficulty with vision? It is the ability see and plan into and for the future.

    Hope: A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen; grounds for believing that something good may happen.

    Jesus has set out the vision for the Church. He has shown us the future and how to get there. It is prophetic, and it is hope, and it is our destiny. How many people reading this have seen heaven? How many hope to be there? How many are living this life with the prospect of eternal life ahead of us? How do you know this will actuate? Because you have a vision of the future, both in our regenerated spirit, and in the Word.

    The Great Commission is both his mission for us and his vision for us. There is no other mission. There is no other vision for us.

    But, now, if you are the leader of a local church, you take this commission, mission and vision, and you look at the demographic you have been sent to, and you define your local vision in unison with his commission. And this mission you have in your local community may shift from time to time according to changing demographics, your ability to reach your demographic, and increased or, sometimes, decreased resources to engage. Fr this reason the leadership, preferably a team with oversight, defines its localised vision.

    Then there is the extended vision within the purposes of the Church: to go first to our Jerusalem, then to Judea, then to Samaria, and then to the Uttermost. Well, this is vision, a vision for the commission given by Jesus himself. So we look at our resources, human, material and spiritual, and we define our capacity for reaching these goals according to the talents we are graced with. This is constantly revised vision, yet still under the generalised commission given by Christ.

    We live in different times to when Jesus and his disciples walked the earth. The gospel and the Spirit are unchanging, but the methodology may vary, according to which tribe and tongue and ethnic group we are sent to reveal the unchanging gospel message and commission to.

    So each local church will have a modus operandi, by which the whole church is empowered, through the Holy Spirit, to work together with Christ to build his Church. It will always be based on Christ’s commission. As Jesus said, no one who sets out to build a tower commences without working out the cost, the method, the means by which it will be built. When we are involved with the local church, we need to be working together on the same page. It is far more effective.

    Therefore casting the vision is imperative. When a significant building project is under way, the construction manager, site heads, foremen, tradesmen and workers are constantly reviewing the plans to make sure the details match the overall blueprint.

    Jesus gives the blueprint, but the details are worked out ands activated by the members of his Body.

  15. “In the last days, God says,
    I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
    Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    your young men will see visions,
    your old men will dream dreams.”

    … it seems to mean everyone – young and old, male and female. It dosent say that it will be given just to the leaders or in any greater or lesser measure to the leaders. It is to everyone.

    So why should any one person cast their vision over anyone else? Casting is an interesting term. I have only heard it used before in the context of fishing, ie. hooking something in. Or of course in the context of casting of spells. So it has a connotation of throwing some influene or force over another that will affect them, perhaps even against their will.

  16. What do you think, is it part of leadership and management to channel sources of information (and of influence) upon their congregation? And therefore find ways of furthering their “vision” amongst their congregation?
    One example: Hillsong leaders are very fond of twitter. There are striking similarities between increase of followers regarding certain Hillsong VIPs on day-by-day basis. Can it be that (new?) Hillsongers get bulk assignments as followers of prominent figures within the church?

    You can find out yourself at http://www.twittercounter.com

  17. Cast: Throw (something) so as to cause it to spread over an area.

    ‘Vision casting’ is just a saying. It is not onerous, or a problem. It is imparting the goals and purposes of a group which is focused on a specific task. We do it all the time in many ways. Why not in the church? And you need to remind everyone continuously, because the congregation can change, new people come in, visitors want to know what you stand for, new converts need to learn about what their part is, and regulars need reminding all the time. It’s perfectly reasonable, and a wise practice.

    Everyone has vision happening every day.

    For example, you even have a vision for what you will purchase at the supermarket. It’s called your shopping list. Or maybe you’re a spontaneous purchaser. Most people are working to a budget when they shop, so they need to be specific about what they are about to buy. We are not generally merely spontaneous.

    Well, you can’t run a local church from spontaneity alone. You need to know what you are doing, where you are going and why, otherwise you waste time, opportunity and resources. We are to be good stewards of God’s flocks, not wasteful or flippant.

    Yes, it’s true that everyone can prophesy, young men will have visions, old men dream dreams. And of course, if this is for everyone, all will have a prophetic outlook. Prophecy always tends to what is seen, or to be seen. Prophecy, in this passage, is linked to visions and dreams.

    So, it is for everyone, but, of course, this includes leaders. And sometimes people in leadership receive a specific vision from God which brings about his purposes, i.e. Peter’s vision for the inclusion of the Gentiles, Paul being called and converted by Jesus in a vision, and given his specific mandate, and subsequently, also, taken up to the third heaven, given revelation. He says he was saved by revelation, and he was called by revelation, and given understanding of the gospel by revelation. Peter and Paul are undoubtedly leaders in the Church, and their revelation continues to this day.

    Now there is no new scriptural revelation, but those who lead churches need to have a roadmap for the future for the local church they are sent to lead. We have the big picture, and many of the nuts and bold of how, but we need to understand how to relate this to our demographic. We do not spontaneously work together. We do it through being well organised and efficient as good stewards of the ministry and word of reconciliation.

    Paul and Peter, James and John wrote epistles which directed the local churches they planted and oversaw. They cast the vision for the churches, including in areas of rebuke, correction and instruction, and the way they were to be managed by the elders and Pastors they placed there. The only thing being refuted here, really, is terminology.

    Casting the vision is merely a saying which indicated that a person in leadership is directing the church in a specific way to accomplish a given task. I don’t see why there is such a fuss being made about this. If you consider the term ‘casting’ to be offensive’ I’m sorry for you. It means nothing more that letting people know what is going on!

    A church is, in a way, a corporate body. It does have a corporate mandate. Each department has a mandate within that overall commission which it has to fulfil to make the whole work well. We can call this vision, and we know what is meant, and we can cast, or broadcast, this vision, and we understand perfectly.

    Or are you saying that churches shouldn’t have vision?

  18. It’s funny they preach to the multitude “Without a vision the people perish”, but hardly ever “My people perish because of lack of knowledge”.

    (I may be mistaken, but I though they were different verses in the bible.)

  19. BTW Teddy. If Rick Warren thinks that pastors ‘lead’, he sure is standing on sinking ground. A pastor is called to defend the flock. I felt we were all coming to this conclusion about this last year after a post on what the pastors role is in the church.

    Rick Warren may be a ‘good leader’, but his doctrines and embrace of the Muslim faith says something else.

  20. Vision in the biblical sense seems to refer to a wide variety of events – warnings, a command, a promise, an insight into God’s nature or purpose etc

    The unifying factor is that it seeks to bring people to greater relationship with him. It is not primarily to glorify individuals or motivate a large movement.

    Vision seems to differ to the secular use which is a corporate goal or mission statement.

    This doesn’t necessarily mean that setting goals is a bad thing. In any institution by nature individual goals will need to be subsumed to a broader one. A group approach may allows certain projects to be accomplished that can’t be done by just a few people. This doesn’t necessarily mean that one purpose is greater than the other. God acknowledges all things that are done for the glorification of his name. At the same time the Bible shows that we also honour God when we submit ourselves to people in positions of church or secular authority so as to win people to Christ.

    As with all things, there things need to be tested against Scripture as something that upholds God’s purposes and bears witness to his Name.

  21. S&P said “Rick Warren thinks that pastors ‘lead’, he sure is standing on sinking ground. A pastor is called to defend the flock.”

    A leader does both, ‘lead’ and ‘serve’. Christ is the perfect Shepherd in this regard who chooses how to do this depending on the state of each person.

    We are currently have 10 sheep in our charge. Watching them behave shows how apt the biblical analogy is. They need to be actively protected and guided.

  22. Christ must be our vision. For He is our life and our Source. Christ has given us his mind and heart (as the scriptures say), through us being reborn of His Holy Spirit. He opens our eyes to see the things we don’t usually see. I’m assuming this is now because we are Christ-minded.

    The human eye is connected to the brain. So it would make sense if we are Christ-minded we actually have the eyes to see what He sees? If the eyes of the Son are on the Father and His are on the Son, then our vision needs to be gospel centered – eyes fixed on Christ and our Father.

    If we know what the Spirit is doing, we must follow Him like as the Son did. God is our vision and isn’t narrowed to an institution – but it is sweeping and embracing those unseen.

    It is important we see those people society doesn’t as well. If we are to imitate Christ – he hung out with those who society could not tolerate.

    I’d like to post up the words to this Irish hymn:

    “Be thou my vision, O Lord of my heart,
    be all else but naught to me, save that thou art;
    be thou my best thought in the day and the night,
    both waking and sleeping, thy presence my light.

    Be thou my wisdom, be thou my true word,
    be thou ever with me, and I with thee Lord;
    be thou my great Father, and I thy true son;
    be thou in me dwelling, and I with thee one.

    Be thou my breastplate, my sword for the fight;
    Be thou my whole armor, be thou my true might;
    Be thou my soul’s shelter, be thou my strong tower:
    O raise thou me heavenward, great Power of my power.

    Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise:
    be thou mine inheritance now and always;
    be thou and thou only the first in my heart;
    O Sovereign of heaven, my treasure thou art.

    High King of heaven, thou heaven’s bright sun,
    O grant me its joys after victory is won;
    great Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
    still be thou my vision, O Ruler of all.”

    Christ as our vision is bigger than a corporate vision!

  23. But to elevate the pastor as the leader is erroneous. The Spirit is essentially the mover of Christ’s body.

    In other words, the ‘pastor’ is following someone else so he may lead some. Those that follow the ‘pastor’ are leading leading some, etc.

    What needs to be encouraged is not for people to step into leadership but just people. Just loving, valuing and believing in others is enough to get them off the ground. Encourage them in their walk with Jesus and amazing things happen this way.

    Too often the vision is cast upon one person and then everyone is forced to become the middle finger. If the church simply learnt how to appreciate, value and encourage other Christian’s in their walk with God, then the church isn’t blessing and focusing on one vision. The church is focusing on the many million of visions all united under the vision of the head of the Church, Christ.

    This means that Jesus’ vision is being fulfilled as we are led pray for each-other and bless each-other. We all have a different part to play if Christ is our vision.

    Sometimes a season will come and go where like-minded Christian’s will meet to accomplish a certain task. In this instance – the leader they appoint is temporary. But nevertheless – that leader is still involved and part of the fold, still willingly to be led with the others by God. Different people are suitable for different missions or tasks. You wouldn’t be putting Rick Warren as a sergeant on a battle field to lead troops. He’s too seeker sensitive, and his books won’t be bought by anyone in the army. 🙂

  24. Corporate: of or shared by all the members of a group. As body we are one, yet many members functioning within the whole, which is Christ.

    So we are the Body of Christ, in Christ and of Christ, but what is our particular function within Christ, and how do we go about that function specifically.

    Firstly, generalising about Christ being our vision only goes part of the way towards adding practicality and functionality to this truth. We can speak in big-picture terms, but we need the detail. What does it mean to have the vision of who Christ is, who we are in Christ, or what Christ has given us of our specific role in the Church.

    Secondly, it is clear from the early chapters of Revelation that Christ had particular tasks and purposes for each city church. Each had a golden candlestick, and angel, and a message. It is generally accepted that the message from Christ was relayed through the Pastor of the church. Obviously God chose John as the prophetic voice through which to reveal the vision and relate it to the seven churches.

    (It is also interesting, blah-blah, that John does far more than comfort, edify and encourage the church with this vision in Revelation. He also brings warning, tells of disastrous consequences of unbelief, sin, wrath and judgement, and reveals God’s plans for many centuries ahead of his time, which places a significant on visionary prophecy far above the simple prophecy of an average Corinthian church meeting).

  25. S&P says “Christ as our vision is bigger than a corporate vision!”

    And the whole body of believers is to represent this but the local church is has its particular gifts and resources to serve a particular section of it. We are each parts of a whole that serve him. There are lots of ministries that are equally important and equally valid but each of us can’t participate equally in all of them.

  26. The word ‘corporate’ is from the Latin, ‘corpus’, which means ‘body’. I think we can get bogged down on bagging terms. Vision is merely our expected or desired end result. Mission is the means and method by which we achieve this. A mandate is a commission. Jesus gave us the mandate. Our task is to accomplish this. It is a corporate, or body-wide mandate.

    What leaders do, and we need leaders, as evidenced by Biblical terms such as elders and overseers, what leaders do is organise a specified group to accomplish their part of the corporate mandate.

    Each person doing their own thing randomly and it all coming together without any kind of pastoral, prophetic or apostolic oversight sounds rather ethereal, esoteric, or even Gnostic to me.

    After all, it was God in Christ who chose to use and grace Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers to equip saints for the work of ministry, and build the Body in love.

    As Paul mentioned many times, it is God’s grace on a person separated for a specific ministry, including eldership and five-fold ministry, which empowers visionary decision making and oversight.

  27. FL said, “Each person doing their own thing randomly and it all coming together without any kind of pastoral, prophetic or apostolic oversight sounds rather ethereal, esoteric, or even Gnostic to me.”

    I wouldn’t be so extreme as to suggest that. A part of the reason people join a particular church is that they already share their visions and goals. The feel they can have opportunities to serve and be served. This is good. But there is still enough freedom to allow people to bear witness in a variety of ways outside of the congregation. Just because your church may be strong in student ministry doesn’t mean you can’t occasionally do something to serve the poor, help out your elderly neighbour or sponsor cross-cultural mission.

  28. True, and each member is a minister in their own right, serving those he has direct contact with. And good, secure overseers would encourage this and even provide the right kind of environment and training for this to take place.

    I was more commenting on the idea of no God-graced oversight at all.

  29. FL “I was more commenting on the idea of no God-graced oversight at all.”

    Have you seen many examples of this in churches with an orthodox reformed theology?

  30. I don’t know how it all pans out, but people like John McArthur seem to bubble up to the surface despite not believing in the very thing they clearly are, as evidenced by the number of people who follow their teaching. Human determination to re-determine terminology doesn’t always match God’s selection for oversight!

  31. Was this in the context of your post in this thread “Teddy, John McArthur is a cessationist. As long as he persists with this line of thought he will thwart the purposes of God for this age. I believe cessationist theology grieves the Holy Spirit. To remain a cessationist scripture has to be reinterpreted. It is a serious flaw.”

    God is much bigger than any movement or church to have his plans thwarted. Even the devil’s machinations can’t thwart God.

  32. What I am trying to say is if the vision of the church IS Christ then the focus is off one person’s vision and onto many. This means their is more opportunity to focus, value and support each-other.

    If we’re supporting each-other, than we are growing, equipping, warning and being accountable to each-other.

    Actually this happened today with me. I was able to sit down and teach someone how to read the bible.

    They were so practical in their faith that they felt it was about time they knew what they knew about God and the bible so they would not sway with different doctrines.

    They were delighted to discover how to rightly divide the word, how to read things in context and understand why there were so many different bibles.

    One day they may bless me when I move away from my monitor and need to accomplish more practical things. After today – we left eachother’s company feeling closer as friends and appreciating each-others different roles in the church and community.

    We shall lead each-other with God’s help down the road of Salvation, figuring out what He wants us to do. 🙂

  33. RE, I still think McArthur, as a leader of significant mega-church, and other ministries, grieves the Holy Spirit with his cessationist teaching. It cancels out much of the New Testament, and limits his flock’s effectiveness.

    However, he teaches some excellent things too, enough to lead people out of darkness into light. He has taken time out, so perhaps he will allow God to show him the truth in regard to the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit.

    No one has a full handle on all truth but God. We all have ‘P’ plates. We’re all apprentices! Maybe one day some of us will graduate! It’s when we think we have made it that we are getting ready for a fall.

    s&p, when I talk about vision, I am not personally referring to a separate vision to Christ’s. Everything we plan for comes under his Headship, and the heading of his vision.

  34. People are in a much more vulnerable position when the only vision they are aware of comes from a man’s mouth.

    Cults take advantage of this by suppressing any independent study or discussion of what is being said.

    Being equipped with basic tools of biblical interpretation helps. But if everything is always received ‘pre-digested’ by the leader there is little opportunity to really wrestle with the word or verify what is being said or done.

  35. RP, s&p, I’m sorry you think that way about vision.

    In fact, vision, when applied correctly, and in accordance with God’s Word, is extremely liberating.

  36. The most religious and powerful leaders in Christ’s time were ironically self-proclaimed experts in God’s word. Without grace everything is burdensome.

  37. In that regard, RE, John McArthur is accused of surrounding himself only with those of his own persuasion, and those he has personally trained, and setting the agenda for his church. Perhaps he wasn’t such a good example of Reformed theology teaching. I do find their stance somewhat overbearing and dogmatic. Maybe you can give me an example of a Reformed minister who allows the liberty of the Spirit you are suggesting in their church.

  38. “The most religious and powerful leaders in Christ’s time were ironically self-proclaimed experts in God’s word.”

    I think they were very similar to the NAR in a lot of ways. They applied unnecessary teachings and burdens on the people while they promoted each-other.

    They kept the young away from their family and made people pledge allegiance to God’s work for their gain and not for the community’s gain.

    They believed they were the true way. They believed what they were going to do through their revelations, teachings and additional rules, was to bring or force God to come down to heaven and save them- making them prosperous and completely sovereign over nations. They had their vision alright! And that vision let them down BIG TIME.

  39. I don’t think we’re limiting ‘vision’ at all Facelift. In fact what human ‘father’ has a vision for his family?
    I think their main focus is keeping their wife and kids happy and well off.

    I’m curious to know if fathers do have ’em.

  40. I think you’re confusing doctrine with vision.

    I have yet to meet a good father who doesn’t have a vision, at some level, for his family. ‘Happy and well off’ is actually a plan, even if it is something of a generalisation. The working part of this vision is how to put together the details of how his family will achieve being happy and well off. Vision takes much purpose and planning. It requires a level of hope for the future.

    I know there are dysfunctional families, and even accidental families, but very few have no hope, in the sense of favourable desires, for a successful outcome, even through challenges.

    Very few parents have not made very large sacrifices for their children for this very reason. Very few parents do not serve their children with the very best they can provide, as part of the journey to well-being. Very few parents to not plan for their children’s future.

    For many families the very concept of being and having a family is part of their vision for a contented life. When a young man and woman meet and start out on a lifetime together they most certainly discuss the future, and dream of family matters. This is vision

  41. s&p,
    ‘They had their vision alright! And that vision let them down BIG TIME.’

    There are those who have had a negative affect on others through overbearing control and an ungodly vision, but what has this to do with a Biblical vision?

    And, I have to ask, how does this negate the blessing of a godly vision. Why should this stop anyone from engaging is what is right?

    God warned against putting unnecessary weights and burdens on people, but he did not warn against having a Godly vision for the future, and for a group of people to pursue it.

  42. The problem is not having a vision per se. Having a vision for something is itself neither good nor bad. The problem is the way the ‘vison-casting’ of the senior church leader has been taken from the corporate world, and given the authority of God. If it were simply a vision for a church, but presented as what the church had decided to work towards, and people were not pressured or coerced to fulfill it, then it could be helpful without being harmful. When it is presented as the revelation of God for that church, and as the overarching calling that all congregation members _should_ work towards, regardless of any vison God may have given them personally, then it can crush their personal calling.

    For example, those of us who have families are all called to be responsible for our families, provide for them, and put whatever time is required into bringing up our kids and having healthy relationships with them. The amount of time will vary depending on the situation of the children and family. If they are in a church whose vision requires that they attend training meetings, prayer meetings, and then spend time out evangelising or supporting many church events, their family may be put second. If this continues indefinitely, the kids may not have the time put into those relationships etc that they need. The parents first scriptural responsibility is put to one side in the name of ‘doing God’s work’ and serving the larger vision. If they go to less meetings because they want to serve the needs within their family, they are seen as less dedicated to the Lord. In an extreme cult like environment, the family comes so far second that its needs are not even part of the picture.

    Vision does not have to be expressed in that fashion, but when it is presented as the main call on all individuals in a congregation, something that they must serve in order to fulfill God’s purposes in their life and be a more effective Christian, people will do it because they think they have to, to serve God, rather than because they really are called to that particular type of service.

  43. If people end up feeling guilty, coerced or begin neglecting the other things God asks them to be responsible for e.g. spouse, children then they don’t understand His nature or his grace. What is being preached? The vision or Christ crucified? The visions of the Bible point to Christ not away from him.

  44. In some places, the Vision is preached a lot. Years ago, when I was at PP’s church, he’d preach on the vision of the future church and the building fund every Sunday. At the time I left, he was regularly preaching only the giving/building fund message, and cancelling the planned preaching, so the building fund was all we heard at that time! My most recent church was vision focussed too, but not nearly to that consuming extreme. Even so, there were sometimes aberrations, depending upon who was preaching. I remember a leaders meeting (not that I went to many of those) where we were all thoroughly berated as the leader (not the senior pastor) tried to make everyone feel ashamed for not evangelising enough. It was fairly condemning, and from a leader who normally was a lovely human being and was great to sit down with one to one. When leadership changed, the 2020 Vision (a C3 specialty) became the vision. This is denomination wide. Again, in its place, it doesn’t have to be damaging, and could be helpful. But we felt that as the sermons began to line up with the church growth agenda, there was more pressure and manipulation in them. They all seemed to work towards this one goal, and promoted the doctrines that would assist. Previously, the teaching had been on a wide variety of helpful or interesting topics, and other than encouraging people to have a healthy Christian life and community, hadn’t been pushing people towards some kind of overarching agenda.

  45. This is becoming a rather pessimistic view of vision.

    I’ve already asked wazza2 a similar question, which he hasn’t answered, but does anyone else think that a local church should, therefore, not have a vision in regard to how they, as a community, can actively and corporately be obedient to God’s Commission, taking into account their demographic?

    My thought is that a local church vision is a blueprint for approaching the Great Commission in their locality and beyond, as far as they can reach with the resources at their disposal.

    We are not required to serve the vision, but, rather, the vision serves us, through unifying us in purpose, in a co-operative set of goals, keeping us on track, and maintaining focus. We can’t cover every aspect need of the community we live in, so we locate our strengths and apply them to our cause, which is, primarily, making disciples.

    On the subject of burdens and pressures: I also don’t see how voluntary organisations like local churches can force anyone to do anything, especially in Australia. If I feel I have been pressured into a decision I later regret, there is no compulsion on me whatsoever to go through with it. I simply explain, after consideration, that, in the heat of the moment I made a decision which I will not be able to fulfil, apologise for any inconvenience, and move on. What can a local church or Pastor actually legally do to me which damages anything but my ego, my emotions or my pride?

  46. I left my local church because I had to fulfill certain requirements that I was no longer comfortable with. Attending leaders meetings, prayer meetings and fellowship groups.

    I don’t see anything wrong with vision, but it is important who owns it. The corporate vision is owned by the entity and we are expected to serve that. There was no middle ground, not legally binding, but who wants to term up every Sunday to be discribed as a “tumble weed” or something similar.

    I think the church is there to serve and equip the individuals so that people can embark on their own ministries. Sometimes these maybe large organised ministries run by the church and sometimes not.

    As an aside, the corporate vision is a little last century. We no longer push a vision on to a market, companies now set goals by engaging with the clients / markets. Vision statements (that push products and manifestos) are being replaced with statements of identity – ie statements that tell the customer what experience to expect from their involvement with the organisation.

    Corporations are changing their focus from doing to experiencing and being. Give it 20 years and the church will cotton on as if they’ve got a new break through!

  47. Also on blueprint – I’ve heard it preached that part of the meaning of Logos is blue print. So Jesus was given as our blue print for life.

    Do we need a blue print of the blue print, or can we just get on with being like Jesus?

  48. FL, I don’t think a local church should not have a vision for how they minister to the community, it is the type of “vision” we are critiquing.

    A group of people will naturally develop some sort of vision for ministry if they are genuinely called by God to that work. Various people will have different giftings and they will find a way to work together. Others will have different needs and these will also become part of the mix. I’ve seen this happen and it allows people to develop their gifts and interests naturally under the guidance of the Spirit. They do this without talking about or referring to “vision” – there’s no need, it happens subconciously.

    But when people constantly refer to the importance of “Vision”, blog about it, have conferences about it and so forth, its clear they are talking about something else. They have taken a concept from 20th Century corporate life and translated it into the church organisation.

    In business there are owners and employees. Owners or their representatives are responsible for setting the vision, and employees are responsible for interpreting it and following it. If an employee dosent agree with the vision or cannot follow it, it is acceptable to demote or remove that person from the organisation. An employee has limited input into the overall vision of the company, and cannot criticise it unless they are very high in the hierarchy.

    When an organisation achieves success the credit is usually given to the owners, as they had the original vision.

    This pattern should not be repeated in the church. Those Pastors who help start churches should not be looked upon in the same way as entrepreneurs who start businesses. Effectiveness of a church should not be put down solely to the “vision” of the founding Pastors. Hierarchys and circles of influence are very dangerous in churches, to both the organisation and the spiritual life of the people within it.

    In business this “vision” is often mysticised and much waffle is made about it. In churches this is often continued, but with the added idea that a person must be specially graced by God with a certain vision. Visible success is equated with vision which is then equated with special favour from God.

    The CCC movement seems to be particularly enamoured with moving business concepts into the church. I have seen a document from CCC Whitehorse which is essentially a business plan, equating Pastors with Managers and Parisioners with employees. I think this is a very dangerous concept to be running a church upon.

  49. Good post Wazza, well said.

    There seems to be a lot of talk re the so-called “Great commission” – a phrase not one used by Christ or any of the apostles on any occasion ever. Church lingo, err might I say “vision” seems to have overtaken the vernacular here yet again. God forbid I should be so caught up in in-indoctrinating others that I fail to remove the plank from my own eye? Hmmm… What say you?

  50. “Also on blueprint – I’ve heard it preached that part of the meaning of Logos is blue print. So Jesus was given as our blue print for life.”

    Me too Muppet. I’m glad you said that on not me. My comment I’m sure would be loaded with pleasant imagery towards Facelift.

  51. Well, you don’t have to use the word ‘vision’. You could state your objectives, and lay out goals.

    Terminology is subordinate to mandate and methodology, but it helps define projected outcomes.

    The Great Commission is based on Jesus’ instruction for the Church to make disciples of all nations. It is a universally accepted term, as is ‘Trinity’.

    The point is, we all know what is meant by these terms.

  52. ‘Jesus was given as our blue print for life’

    I can agree with this, but define Jesus as a blue print in terms we can understand and apply.

  53. Great post Wazza. I had a C3 student pass me diagram that Mark Kelsey was teaching students how to be affective in ministry. The diagram was scary and down-right laughable.

    But their was a hierarchical structure that elevated the visionary over the rest of the leaders, ministers, disciples and new converts. It was rather scary. It reminded me of snakes and ladders. I’ll find it and post it up for everyone to see Kelsey’s diagram that he teaches both the Creative Stream and Leadership Stream. (I think it was from 2007 or 2008).

    I’ve examined the ‘Great Comission’ too Blah-Blah. What can you tell us more about your findings?

  54. FL re defining Jesus as a blue print.

    If we don’t participate and act in and through Jesus and He through us we are simply following guidelines and dead doctrines. Because He is the living word of God He is a living blueprint relevent to every situation faced by every person.

    He is a blue print for individuals and the great commission is being fulfilled one person at a time. As we do this as individuals we collectively “…make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principlalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal purpose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord…”

    What we do on an individual basis with Jesus as the blue print is paramount. Our collective lives become His Church, and our local churches are supports to us individually.

  55. A blueprint isn’t abstract. It is defined.

    Without a clear blueprint a building cannot be constructed. The purpose of the blueprint is clarity, down to the finest detail.

    I am asking for clarity.

    If I am to act in and through Jesus, what is it I am actually to do? If my purpose in life is to receive Jesus and continue in the faith grounded and settled, until the time I am caught up to be with him, what is it that helps me sustain a lifestyle in Him.

    Surely the vision for my life is to attain to the high calling of God in Christ Jesus, to finish the race, to enter into eternal life.

  56. Jesus isn’t abstract, the whole of the Bible defines Him. Jesus as the blue print is fairly easy to follow. He is the blueprint for us individually.

    However, the disciples also asked Jesus what they should do. He replied by saying that they should just believe (the answer is abstract but the reality becomes clearer as we live it).

    Furthermore, God holds the larger picture which is shrouded in mystery and which He has left for us to seek out in Him. He alone knows all things. If we had all the answers, we’d all have the same vision and we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    As it is, we all follow Jesus, but this manifests itself in different ways. There is nothing wrong with a local church having a vision, but then there is nothing wrong with me having my own. What is wrong is me feeling burdened by someone else’s vision – I’m no longer a slave to anything other than the debt of love.

    FL – this is just my opinion, and not one I necessarily want to force on anyone else, but through this type of debating is how I learn.

  57. By the way, it is Jesus who is doing the building He has the perfect clarity you are after. However, we are the labourers that take His direction in accordance with His plans.

  58. It may be your opinion, but I have seen very few ministries with this kind of approach and they come across very God and community focus with Jesus and love pioneering in different spheres of influence.

    I have seen this kind of ‘everyone’s vision’ thing work. One church in particular invites a member up to speak about their testimony, tells them about their current situation – family, finances and what they do re-creationally and what job they do.

    They teach everyone what they are learning currently, and what they are seeing as a teacher, scientist, business man, artist, etc. Everyone is bought up to date what is happening in this changing world and appreciate the person’s family, struggles and career.

    After this, the congregation prays for the person and may even bless them financially if they are struggling financially. This church allowed the congregation to support their own members ministries.

    Love, Jesus and community is their focus. I began to appreciate each member in that congregation.

  59. I know what everyone means by blue print, in the sense of a plan that we follow, but it would bother me if that was the only way we thought about Christ because the analogy fails if you look at it closely. Yep, I’m getting technical here, because I’ve had a lot to do with real blue prints.

    For a start – a blue print is a copy, not the real thing. The original is a separate document. The blue print is a copy that does not deviate from the original, which other people then use to precisely build from. Sometimes, the blue print is harder to read than the original too.

    In a way, Jesus is the original, and we are to be the blue prints of Him – in our character. Clearly our lives and circumstances are not blue prints of His, so character must be what we are talking about here. But more accurately, the revelation of Him that we each have at any point in time is our current blue print of Him.

    Even so, it doesn’t fully work. Jesus is our example. We are not copies of Him. God in His wisdom has created each of us uniquely – a miracle in itself. None of us can possibly express all aspects of him.

    But following through regardless, in the case of plans that you build from, there are usually many plans (that used to be called blue prints), all showing different aspects of the original, which different trades use to build from. _If_ we carry this analogy through, then we could say that its quite viable to say that different groups of people might have different ‘trades’, all a part of the final building, and all equally important, because without them, the result wouldn’t be complete, and might not even work. Each of them is working from a blue print, but the blue prints aren’t a complete copy of the original. The different trades might not even understand what the other blue prints are for, or appreciate them. Its not uncommon either to hear one trade or consultant complaining about another, yet they all need to be included in the whole.

    Now you can see one reason I’m not a preacher. I’m really too tempted to get right into the analogies. Does this one come from scripture? Can it, when ‘blue prints’ didn’t exist when scripture was written? What was really meant? Pattern?

    There is a lot of debate on whether we are to copy Christ literally; to do as He did, literally in our different circumstances. In my opinion, that is why character is so vital. If our character becomes like His, we will over time respond more to our circumstances as He would, from our inner transformed selves (new man), rather than trying to apply external, legalistic interpretation to circumstances without being informed by being the person on the inside that He desires us to become.

  60. Getting back on topic, I agree with Wazza here (as usual).

  61. It is the type of vision we are critiquing, not whether people have one or not, and the extent to which it is imposed on people, or whether they are free and not judged if they have some other call on their resources.
  62. The kind of vision we are discussing is ‘a concept from 20th Century corporate life … translated … into the church organisation’. As a technique, it does not have the endorsement scripturally that is at times attributed to it, but it doesn’t have to be a bad thing if it serves people well, rather than the other way around.
  63. When church organisations see leaders as managers and congregation members as employees, and model church life accordingly, there is a problem. This is not the model we’ve been given for church life in scripture; it is a 20th Century management style. Feudalism was another interpretation churches have used as a model in the past – that was not endorsed in scripture either.
  64. Some churches, including CCC in my experience, are very fond of this corporate model; they cherry pick scriptures to support it. Another example in addition to wazza’s – my ex-pastor was very keen to have a board structure where he was the CEO, and the ‘elders’ were board members. Fortunately at the time, the congregation didn’t support it, and the eldership model stayed. Much to the frustration of the senior pastor, who still had every intent to persist in his attempts to achieve this model in the future.
  65. S&P that is interesting. Can you elaborate on how the church allowed its congregation to support its own member ministries????

    Did this church have a vision statement?

  66. I’ve once heard someone say ‘If Jesus was a party-er and a doer, than that’s what I am’. I am tempted to agree. I suppose my attitude is to enjoy life, but be ready to share love and faith, also being prepared to stand for truth.

    I get to enjoy God and His community and creation. I get to discover who I am in Him in this community and creation.

  67. I’ve never seen a vision statement. But the church is an emergent church, which had it’s own building and facilities (I always assumed they met in houses 😀 ).

    The leader was more a ‘facilitator’ and allowed families and individuals to meet and pray together before and after services. Dinner, drinks and wines were always present at the night time service so that people could eat together.

    I think everyone saw their role to include everyone. What was odd is that they don’t have a worship service at the start. I think they consider their fellowship and the dinner/communion as an act of worship.

  68. I agree that Jesus is the Original and not really the blueprint, just as Heaven is the original and the earthly Temple is the according to the pattern, and we are created in the image of God. Christ, of course, is the express image of God.

    And the Word, or scripture, could be said to be the blueprint of Christ, being called the Mirror.

    We all,
    With unveiled face,
    Beholding as in a Mirror
    The glory of the Lord,
    Are being transformed into the same Image
    From glory to glory,
    Just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

    (2 Cor.3:18)

    But I have to reiterate that we still need to have an idea of who we are in Christ.

    John: ‘It has not been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when he is revealed, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is’.

    Paul: Now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I am known’.

    So the Word of God is God’s vision for our lives. As we look into the Mirror of the Word we see ourselves as we really are in Christ, provided we are doers of the Word, and not hearers only (James 1:22-25).

    But what we are discussing, really, is more relevant to the modus operandi of a local church, where the leadership team takes the extended group on a journey of accomplishment and stewardship in the Lord. To this end, provided our cause is subject to God’s greater cause, having set objectives and goals is potentially far more productive than random effort and the energy expended.

    A fruitful vineyard is a well planned, efficient, nurtured environment geared for growth.

    Perhaps a look at the Greek word ‘oikonomia’, translated ‘stewardship’, or ‘dispensation’, would unlock some of the sound reasons for a well constructed vision.

    1) the management of a household or of household affairs
    1a) specifically, the management, oversight, administration, of
    other’s property
    1b) the office of a manager or overseer, stewardship
    1c) administration, dispensation

  69. Well then …

    what should elders and deacons be?

    Elders should be responsible for the spiritual needs and direction of the local fellowship, while deacons should be managers “on the shop floor”. Responsible for all the mundane aspects of a congregation and doing all the administration and organising that is needed for events and so on.

    Elders should be pastoral and should pray for the church, visit the sick and those in prison etc. It is not a good idea to essentially downgrade the deacons role while dragging most of what they do into the elders arena.

    Basically, elders should not be involved in planning things and deciding strategies. They should be involved in praying for healing (James 5), and other pastoral ministry. Preaching and Teaching would come under that too. Deacons should be the managers … with the authority to be able to tell the elders to go home for the day as it’s already 6.30pm and to spend time with the families for a change.

    I think the model we all live with is wrong. I don’t think we should simply accept the status-quo. We expect too much from (usually) one person at the top.

    It then becomes too easy for the top cheese to grab for any help available … hence the vision-casting thing.

    “I wanna grow my church and this is the model that has built mega-churches. Therefore God must be in it … otherwise how would they get so big?”

    Is it God or is it pragmatism?

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    I don’t get excited being in church these days. I gotta be honest. I find Sunday morning really, really stressful and most of the time it all feels completely pointless. 😦

    I get excited in bible-study. 🙂
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    Ah well. I am not against getting a short term vision to get people enthusiastic about what’s happening at church. I just don’t see anything exciting about jumping on Willow Creeks’ band-wagon.

    Shalom

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