No, I’m not talking about those crazy hallucinations we have when we’re a little too tired, or the “chinese food” dreams we have when whatever we ate for dinner just isn’t quite sitting right. I’m talking about the dreams that God plants in our hearts, the ideas he puts in our heads before we even realize what’s happening.
I’ve been reading and hearing a lot about the church’s vision lately, and how to “cast” the vision of a church. One school of thought says the vision of a church is given to the church’s leader, who then shares the vision with the congregation and then directs the church in working toward that vision. While I think it is important for the pastor of a church to lead that church in realizing it’s vision (both in word and deed), the thought of a lead pastor having sole responsibility of the church’s vision scares me a little bit. A former professor of mine, Lovett Weems, put words to my fears in an email exchange. Here’s what he says, “I have concerns about this philosophy because I fear it plays to a major clergy weakness, the assumption that God’s wisdom is limited to our wisdom when it comes to a vision.” Well said.
Another school of thought, the one first taught to me in Weems’ class and the one I had been most familiar with until recently, says a church’s vision is a gift of God to be discerned by the body of the church. Though all the talk lately points to the former, I find the latter to still be more agreeable. And here’s why….
I think one of the things that’s really awesome about the visions that God plants like seeds among God’s people is that all of a sudden, many people in one community can be feeling the same nudging, can be sensing the same energy and drive. Maybe one person, like the lead pastor, puts a name to those nudgings from God, but ultimately, the energy of the people sets God’s vision for the church in motion. The energy (or synergy?) of a common vision gives us a special strength and motivation to work together in fulfilling that vision. Suddenly, a few seeds planted in the hearts of a congregation are watered and nurtured by a common purpose, the people of God’s church see the world through God’s eyes, and you can’t help but grow!