Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Blurred Vision

I have several friends who have shared about having their dreams die, and not being sure if they even want to dream again. Since then, I've been alerted to another facet of the conversation: what is "vision" supposed to be, and what's the focus of the vision.

Huge topic -- a few quick thoughts:
  • "When the people can't see what God is doing, they run into each other." (that famous verse in Proverbs, but as The Message translates it). The bigger question, in my mind: Is it the job of leadership to provide "what God is saying" so people all run in the same direction, or is it the job of leadership to help people discover what God is saying to them individually, and equipping/encouraging them to run with it, even if it's in 20 different directions?

  • Vision should be as much personal as corporate; being a "cog in a ministry machine" may give some people a sense of belonging in the short term, but it doesn't produce long-term community that is anything but project-centered. To be fair, many who start as "cogs" do grow spiritually, but the community aspect is not automatic; it must be cultivated.

  • "Rallying the troops" to the vision statement of the church is tricky. It runs the risk of becoming a pep rally more than reminding people of what God has called them to -- coming across more as reminding people of what that particular church wants them to do. And often it can degenerate into manipulation and performance-orientation: "You're not committed to the vision God gave us for this church." (Translation: Get with the program or find another church.)

  • Having to have a "vision" to get people to rally around puts way too much pressure on the leader to come up with something, and if that leader isn't "successful" in rallying people to their vision, they can (out of fear and guilt) become unintentionally manipulative as they try to get people "plugged in" or "hold them accountable". Or they beat themselves up (and other leaders may participate in beating them up as well): "I guess I'm just not cut out for leadership" -- and another Godly person with leadership gifting drops out because the false expectations deceive them into thinking they're "not doing it right".

  • Leadership should be equipping people to hear what God is saying to the individual, not trying to get people to "sign on" to the leaders' vision.
Here's a question that I'm still trying to nail down: Is it possible for a church leader (pastor), with the following goals in ministry, to be "in the system but not of the system"?
  1. To equip individuals in the church to hear God's voice for themselves

  2. To assume that God will speak individual vision/dreams to individuals, and it's okay (even desirable) that they don't match the vision/dreams of the leader

  3. To actively choose to not be the up-front guru who builds the ministry around their own "giftedness and passion" (or ego & personal charisma/ability to manipulate?)

  4. To have "leadership gatherings" where the first item is always praying for each other and building the community, and "planning" takes second (or third) place if there's any time left after praying for each other and caring for each other

  5. To honestly "give it away" to those around him/her, hoping to see others thrive in the use of their gifts, and

  6. To invest a good chunk of their personal time to "hanging out" with no other agenda than to be in community (versus having "coffee" with someone when the leader has an agenda item that is the real reason behind the personal contact)

  7. Suggestions? I'd really like to brainstorm this thing as much as possible.
These are still half-baked and needing more reflection and refining. As George Mercado used to say "help me out".

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