We had another very productive meeting with our discernment team last night, but we discovered that we still have some work to do on our “vision statement.” To be clear (because this terminology has created a lot of confusion) we are not trying to create a one or two sentence phrase that we will put on websites, letterhead, etc. That may well happen in the future, but at this point we are trying to articulate more fully “who” we are called to reach and “why” we are called to those people.
I love our team! They want to get it right and say it well! So we are still at it. However, we do know the answers to the “who?” and “why?” questions so we are simultaneously moving forward while getting the statement polished up. With that in mind, here is the short, unofficial version:
We are called to reach the following groups in the Stanwood/Camano Island area: (1) young families (2) those who cannot/will not attend a Sunday morning worship service (3) those who have a negative view of church or are “anti church.” The shortest answer to “why?” is because these are the groups our heart really breaks for and we sense God calling us to do something about it. There’s obviously more to say, and I’ll get it on this site as soon. In the meantime, take a look at this video about the Soma missional communities in Tacoma to see how one church has reached some of these groups:
Talk about a really appropriate video for where we are at in the process!
I heard David Platt speak at a recent conference. He reminds me a lot of another preacher that I know who speaks very controversially in order to get people to really consider what is being said. Without hearing the rest of the message (I don’t like how the video cuts off at what seems to be a crucial point) I don’t know what to think about all that he is saying. However, I do find it interesting that we often take things for granted without really thinking through them. For example, what does it really mean to “make disciples?” I wonder if we have substituted a prayer for what used to be marked by baptism? And yet, we find throughout the New Testament the call to “believe” or “repent” and be baptized (cf. Mark 16:16, Acts 2:38, Acts 16:21, John 3:36). It seems only natural to give people the opportunity to respond in prayer and express that belief to God. The point, perhaps, is that if we think we have made a “Christian” or a “disciple of Jesus” by having them say that prayer then we are kidding ourselves. Disciple-making is more of a long-term commitment, isn’t it? It can’t be done from a pulpit on Sunday morning and it requires a lot of leadership to carry out faithfully in a community.
We’ve finished the vision statement and you’ll be seeing it up on the blog in about a week (we’re polishing it up a bit to make it publicly presentable). Now the fun really begins! We’re beginning to brainstorm and explore the question “how?” In the vision statement we’ve identified the “who?” and the “why?” so now we are going to figure out how to make it happen. Right now, we’re brainstorming. Nothing is off the table. As we move through the next few weeks we’ll be narrowing things down and focusing in on what we sense the Spirit leading us to do. This is will eventually be our “mission plan.”
It has been awhile since I have posted any updates, but that doesn’t mean that our team has not been hard at work. OK… I did take a week to escape the rain and play in the Arizona sun! I wasn’t doing much work that week, but before and after the break our team has been wrestling with the question of “vision.” Who is God calling us to reach? Why do we need to reach them? We feel like we are close to answering these questions, but we still need to do the work of articulating them for everyone else. In the next couple of weeks I should be sharing our “vision statement” on this blog that will do just that.
Vision is a tricky thing. We want to get it right, but we also know that it will develop and change over time as we respond to the Holy Spirit. Just think about how much things have changed in North American church life in the last century! I’ve been reading Reggie McNeal’s latest book, Missional Communities, that addresses how some churches are addressing some of these changes. I recommend it to you if you are looking for creative inspiration for your faith community. It is fun to think about innovative ways we can seek to be the “church” in our world today. The hard part is getting practical and putting the pieces together in a way that will work in a particular context. That is what we are trying to do. It is fun (for me at least), but it is not easy!