It was the question that stopped me in my tracks. Not because I didn’t know the answer, but because I sort of thought the person asking would think I was making it up as I go. It happened at my interview. I had started as the interim pastor. My intention was to come in, stay a few months and help the church keep going while they found their permanent pastor. Then I would put them in that pastor’s capable hands and back out on the road I would go. My job wasn’t to change things or impose my vision, it was to prepare them to receive the next person’s vision and run with it. But something happened. We both (the congregation and I) began to realize that I was the next person. Frankly I was very happy.
From there the question was how to proceed. The congregation already knew me, so how would the interview process go? How could we get everyone on board? While some would say I was just continuing on, the role had actually changed pretty substantially. All of the sudden my vision mattered. All of the sudden the question became “How would I lead this 150 year old church into the next phase of its life?” We decided to have a night where the congregation could ask me their questions. And that’s when I got the question:
What’s Your Vision for This Church?
My answer was the same as it is on this blog, well, okay not exactly. This space is more arts and creativity focused, but the principle remains the same. My vision is to help other people find and use their talents to live out their vision. I know to some “my vision is to help you live your vision” sounds a lot like a cop out. Here’s why it’s not:
If it’s just my vision, then it’s all my idea, and you will only get as excited about it as I can make you. The idea, the continuing ideas needed to implement it and motivating you to bring the idea to fruition, all of that depends on me. You might be saying, “That’s leadership.” and to a degree you would be right, but I see something better.
If it’s your vision, then it’s your idea. You’re already passionate about it and there is an excitement, maybe even a desperation to bring it to reality. Now I can come along side you and help you and find the people that can help you. I can look at all the gifts of the church and work with you, encourage you and build you up. Imagine a church where people were living their dreams, seeing the great things in their hearts and minds happening. If that’s not a contagious church, I don’t know what is. That’s why it’s a big part of my vision.
About now, some of you are seeing the problem. There is a name, two names actually, missing from this post. I did that intentionally to bring us to this point. Those names, of course, are God and Jesus. If it’s my vision, it all depends on me. That load is too heavy for me to bear alone. If it’s your vision then I can help you bear the load and work with you to make it happen. But what if it’s God’s vision? What if you were seeking God and He laid something on your heart? What if God’s vision becomes your vision? Now all of the sudden the Spirit of God is giving the passion. Now the Spirit of God is your encourager. Now the Spirit of God is your provider and now when you come to the end of yourself and your abilities, you can watch in awe as the Creator of the Universe comes in and does something amazing to bring His vision, the one He laid on your heart, to fruition. Now it doesn’t all depend on me, and it doesn’t all depend on you and me. Now it all depends on the One on whom it ACTUALLY all depends, God.
Now imagine that that was happening in the lives of believer after believer after believer. As people are coming together to live out God sized dreams in the church, the neighborhood, the nation, maybe even the world. Can you imagine what a church like that could do? Neither can I but I love to try.
That’s my vision for the church. What’s your vision?