Summary: God has a vision for your church. What steps can you, and your congregation, take to focus in on that vision? Here are some thoughts from Daniel.
I grew up in a good size family. I have two older sisters, a younger brother and a younger sister. My oldest sister and my youngest sister are both adopted, and on top of that my parents had a number of foster children in our home while I was growing up. So we naturally had a Chevrolet Caprice Classic station wagon.
It was not unusual for our family to take other kids along on family vacations. I particularly remember one vacation while we were living in Sandusky, Ohio. At the time there were four of us Monck children, we were joined by the three Baskee girls, and two of the Cheek children. Nine kids, two adults, one station wagon, and a vacation from Sandusky, Ohio to Disneyland. As in Los Angeles, CA.
If you questioned my parents mental stability after hearing they named me Chip Monck, you can probably only confirm your hunch now that you hear what they defined as a “vacation”.
This station wagon was one of those that you could lay down the middle and the rear facing seat, and end up with this smooth metal bed behind the front seat. This was long before seat belts were en vogue. So my parents simply loaded all of us into the back, and we slid our way through each and ever turn, all nine of us, all the way across the country.
Now, what I really hated about this station wagon was the rear facing seat. Any of you ever sat in one of these. It is like some kind of a jump seat that faces the tail gate. Every time you stop in traffic, the cars coming up behind you convince you that you are about to die, and once they do stop. . .you can pretty much read the oil change sticker in their windshield. I hated that seat. It was a 15 second trip to car sickness. I never could see what was coming ahead. I was always focused on what was behind, and it always seemed like the stuff that was behind us was going to be my undoing.
In many ways, people live life and churches live life in the rear seat of a station wagon. Always looking out the back window. Reflecting on what has already been passed; wondering if the past is going to catch up with them, no real awareness of what is coming up ahead.
Think about what would have happened if my dad chose to drive the car from that seat. Granted, when he backed the car up, he did this deal with his arm, and looking over his shoulder. As he drove down the road he would check his rear view mirrors, and glance around. But his focus was ahead, through the windshield.
It is similar to the common theme and discussion that happens repeatedly in churches and organizations, especially at the time of leadership changes, when we begin talking about vision. We begin that tension between being focused out the rear window, or checking our rear view mirrors, or looking ahead through the windshield. That tension of finding the proper balance between forward vision, and recognizing our historical heritage and foundation.
And often it is when we begin these discussions that communication begins to break down. Across generational lines, across traditional versus contemporary lines, across future of the church versus history of the church lines. Literally battle lines begin to be drawn, and communication becomes completely boggled between the two.
An example. Two rednecks, Billy Joe and his friend Bubba are out in the woods hunting when Billy Joe suddenly grabs his chest, keels over and falls to the ground.
Billy Joe doesn’t seem to be breathing, his tongue is hanging out and his eyes are rolled back in his head.
Bubba frantically whips out his cell phone, and calls 911. He yells to the operator, “Help! I think my friend here is dead! What do I do?”
The operator, in a calm. . .soothing voice says, “Ok, ok, calm down and take it easy. I can help. First of all, let’s make sure he’s dead.”
There is a silence, and then a gunshot is heard. . .
Bubba comes back on and says, “Ok, now what?”
A communication breakdown. An interpretation breakdown. There are times as a leader when you are trying to communicate a thought or truth, and somehow. . .despite everything on your end making perfectly good sense, it just doesn’t seem to bring about the desired result on the other end. Bubba heard what you said, but your vision of saving the life has rapidly disappeared.
I think this is a common struggle in modern churches. Pastors, and maybe even lay leaders have this grand vision for the church. They have clear focus and understanding of what the vision looks like, how it will play out, what the end product will be. But the people in the pews are sitting there asking, “What in the world is this man talking about?”