Some churches seem to only focus on the past and they tend to worship the way they always have. In Rings of FireLeonard Sweet states, “Never underestimate nostalgia and its power to idolize the past and demonize the future.”
Scripture has a futuristic emphasis with the apostle Paul challenging us to “press towards the goal” and Jesus who “endured the cross for the joy that was set before him.” The temptation is to settle for what we have had and not pursue what could be.
You cannot live in the past and move forward.
Romans 8:18-30 focuses on the future telling us what is going to be revealed and the glory that is coming.
Hebrews 11:1 challenges that faith is the reality of what is hoped for and the proof of what is not seen.
Second Corinthians 5:7 instructs us to walk by faith and not by sight.
Abraham headed for a land he had never seen, not knowing where he was going because of his walking by faith.
So why is it that so many of us would rather reminisce about the past then dream and plan about God’s preferred future?
Vision describes where we are headed: A picture of the future that produces passion.
It is a clear picture of God’s preferred future for your church. Vision is where you are going and how the mission of God looks in your context. It is your ability to conceptualize a picture of a golden tomorrow that does not yet exist but can be accomplished as you faithfully follow the Lord’s direction. In No Silver Bullets Daniel Im defines vision as “painting the dreams that God has laid on your heart for all to see!”
Leonard Sweet continues: “A church that incarnates the timeless and the timely at the same time yields timefulness.” It involves a faith that finds God in the future and bears fruit. Vision is your ability to see God’s unlimited possibilities while also being fully aware of the difficulties and challenges along the journey. It is not about saying in step with the times but rather staying in step with Jesus. Vision never loses the focus of remaining biblically sound but it is also willing to be culturally relevant.
Jesus’ example demonstrates a forward focus that spoke a lot about the future kingdom where God will reign. Your vision of a preferred future should always be God-initiated, God directed, and under God’s authority. Vision will not be free of challenges, trials, or persecution. Vision produces faithfulness and fruitfulness regardless of the circumstances. How will your church continue to carry out God’s Great Commission at this time and right where he has placed you? What timely changes should you prayerfully consider?
Have your leadership team complete a “Dream” worksheet. Encourage them to write out ten statements describing what your church could look like in five years. (Only one statement can be about the size of your congregation or about building.) Include statements like, “people will be baptized every Sunday” or “we will see disciple-making occurring to the fourth generation” or “families with their children will be all over our campus desiring to learn more about Christ.” Take time to dream about God’s vision for your ministry.
Also, consider doing a vision audit as you examine your community history, community context, church people, church leadership and how they converge. What is your unique fingerprint and calling in the economy of God? The best way to answer this is through observing and asking good questions. What do you see that is unique to your context socially, economically, physically, and spiritually? What do you see and what do you hear the people saying or asking? Out of this “vision audit” you will discover how your church can best represent Christ.
It takes all kinds of churches to reach all kinds of people and you should resist the temptation to be a copycat church. Have a vision to function as Paul did when he was willing to become as a Jew, or one under the law, and even weak in order to win them to Christ. First Corinthians 9:22 says, “ I have become all things to all people, so that I may by every possible means save some.” Do you not see how “timely” he was in order to deliver the timeless message of the gospel? How will your vision contextualize the gospel in your community?
Vision requires faith and never allows you to settle for the status quo. It motivates your church to move out of its comfort zones. Vision is not safe and requires a willingness to take Holy Spirit-led risk.
What will your church and your community look like if you follow through on what God has directed you to accomplish?
Is your church where God desires it to be?
Is your church fulfilling everything God wants it to accomplish?
Are you able to clearly articulate a clear picture of God’s preferred future?
Every church is unique and distinct while remaining faithful to timeless truths from Scripture. Be biblical but be OK with being different. Hold closely to your functions but loosely to the forms and resist the temptation to compare. If you’re a leader you must know where God is taking you, how you will get there, and how to clearly articulate it to your leadership, members, and community.
What kind of church is God leading your church to be five years from now? Vision motivates people and compels them to press forward!
Copyright © 2021 by Larry Barker @ https://healthychurchpodcast.com/. No part of this article may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from Lifeword.org.