packaging vision packages people

packaging vision packages people May 11, 2012

packaging vision packages people

Strange things happened when the church I used to pastor renounced vision. It used to be a church that thrived on vision. There was the annual seeking of vision from God, then articulating the vision and then the vision casting, along with banners and meetings and reminders. Vision was its blood.

Then the church gradually let visionary thinking go. It was a tough transition, including a painful church split followed by slow leakage. But I felt, along with so many others, that the church was so far better off for it all.

But here are a few observations of strange things about the process:

  1. People really loved the visionless way of doing church. It was more authentic, real, raw, spontaneous, relaxed, gracious, open and stressless. People felt free to be who they were without having to conform to the church’s vision or mission statement. Even visitors remarked on how unusual the church felt. They loved the spaciousness.
  2. But this is when it gets weird. People wanted to package and program it. It felt so good, that they wanted to make it our vision. They wanted a vision statement that articulated this visionless way of being. They couldn’t see the irony and even the destructiveness of this desire. They couldn’t see that as soon as you make this freedom a law, this grace a rule, this spaciousness a requirement, then it would kill it almost instantly.
  3. Others wanted to keep the freedom but also wanted to add visionary thinking and mission statements. “But what is our purpose?” “What are we about?” “What is our mission?” “What are we supposed to be doing?” Questions like this would emerge. I tried very hard to explain that just being and allowing this to be our fruitfulness. But so many couldn’t get it. They didn’t realize that, like yeast, as soon as you add a little bit of vision to a visionless community, it would affect the whole batch. It would ruin everything.

I claim you can’t have both. You can’t be a free and open community and a visionary one at the same time.

I’ve written a whole book on vision “Without A Vision My People Prosper”: click here.

"Nice vid David - hilarious! We'll miss you and wish you all the best! (and ..."

nakedpastor’s goodbye video to patheos
"Good idea! I look forward to exciting developments at your own site. I like Patheos, ..."

nakedpastor’s goodbye video to patheos

Browse Our Archives

TRENDING AT PATHEOS Progressive Christian
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Pat Pope

    Whew! This could probably be replicated many times over at churches all over the country. We get so into vision that is manufactured, packaged, marketed, etc. that even a simplified vision gets the type of reaction you describe. It’s as if we fall more in love with the hype and packaging than we do the contents and we feel that is how we’re defined as a church. I think what some people are concerned about is how their friends will view the church since it has been previously known for it’s campaigns. How do we describe it now minus all the hype? Will people think we’re not so good and move on somewhere else with a better marketing plan, to a place that’s more hip, more cool? Will we lose our standing in the community as the “it” church? It’s all a vicious cycle and I think it reveals our vanity more than anything.

  • You’re right Pat. People considered our church a place where nothing happened anymore. Weird.

  • Pat Pope

    Yeah, I heard that a lot David in a church where I was at and we HAD a vision/mission statement, but it was so radically different than what preceded in the previous 26 years, people often lamented, “who are we?”

  • it is sad pat. we are who we are. deal with it. that’s the crux.

  • john avant

    Brilliant. Great.

  • MLE

    The church I grew up in and quasi-affiliate with (gosh, that’s loaded, isn’t it?), tends to repackage and repackage a lot of the same vision stuff. Mission statements, enduring principles, “each one, reach one,” etc. This repackaging allows church materials to have different words on them. Yay!

    I don’t mean to talk down the sincere effort of those who are trying to do good, it just seems like, by and large, the repackaging doesn’t actually help. Instead, people get caught up in the new slogans and in-group speak and I just kind of sit back and go, “huh?”
    Not to mention, for those on the fringe who, like my husband and myself, haven’t kept up on the most current lingo and packaging, it can be off putting. It’s like, in order to fit in, you have to reprogram with the latest version. . . Vision 2.0.

  • Why do churches need to create new missions? We haven’t managed to complete the ones Jesus gave us two thousand years ago. Once we’ve perfected all that stuff he told us to do (loving God, loving our neighbors, caring for the poor, making disciples of all… I’m sure I’m forgetting something), then we can start coming up with new missions. Until then, as far as I’m concerned, Christians have a long enough to-do list already without adding to it.

  • B Molyneux (@molono)

    I’m intrigued by your thoughts on vision – wondered about your thoughts on the idea that prophesy is about casting a vision alongside God. (I’ve phrased that awfully, hopefully you get what I mean!)

  • Hi B. I’ve spent a lot of time in prophetic communities and with prophets and prophecy. I’ve become very suspicious of almost all of it. I say almost because there is something genuine about it. But the genuine part is something totally different than the planned forecasting of visionary thinking.

  • Voted out of membership, after 31 years of abusive “marriage.”…..and a divorce.