Summary: Vision has always been at the heart of serving God and doing His will. So a God given vision has always been at the heart of doing the will of God. God’s vision takes us to new levels and challenges us to do new things we would not think to accomplish our
God loves creativity and nowhere is that found more than in creation. Where I grew up in Kansas City, we have an average snowfall of 20 inches a year. One of the things you learn growing up there is that every snowflake is unique. No two snowflakes that have ever fallen throughout all of creation are identical. How is that possible? It is God’s handiwork. Each snowflake has an infinite number of discernable crystal formations. As they blow through the wind, the everchanging conditions lead them to grow in different patterns so that the final design is a reflection of the unique conditions which produced it.
Now take a moment and look at the people seated around you. Though there are great similarities between you like 2 arms, 2 eyes, 2 feet, hair etc, there are also vast differences. All living things come with a set of instructions stored in their DNA which create those differences. DNA is the blueprint for everything that happens inside the cell of an organism, and each cell has an entire copy of the same set of instructions which are unique to that individual or thing. DNA is a genetic fingerprint which is unique to each individual.
Now if a church is made of unique individuals who are not identical to any other person in the world then it stands that the combination of those individuals in the church would make every church unique in and of itself. What makes a church unique is not the style of worship or even the buildings it inhabits. It’s the sum of the unique people and their interactions with one another which we call its culture. Culture is the combined effect of the people values, thoughts, actions, attitudes, traditions, symbols, language, morals , rules and laws. Robert Lewis and Wayne Cordeiro write, “Culture gives color and flavor to everything your church is and does. While each church has the same mission, to “go and make disciples”, how that is expressed and lived out in the life and ministry of the church is different, because it has been influenced by the culture of the church and the opportunities provided by its ministry environment.
Yet culture, while no doubt real and influential in everything the church does, can be hard to identify. It is hard work to discover the unique DNA or culture of a church and God’s call upon it. Too often churches have not taken the time or invested the energy to look inward and reflect on the most important questions of ministry: Who are we? How are we unique from the other churches around us? Why should someone come and be a part of our church as opposed to any other? And most importantly, what is God’s vision for our church? Yet, without you cannot be the church God has called you to be.
Vision has always been at the heart of serving God and doing His will. Proverbs 29:18 puts it this way: “Without a vision, the people perish.” In the Old Testament, the Prophets and the book of Daniel are all written from visions of God. But God also gives visions to individuals he calls, like Moses when he led the people of Israel, David when he slayed Goliath, Solomon when he built the Temple, and Nehemiah when he rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem. In the New Testament, Ananias was given a vision to go and heal Paul. Peter was given a vision of the unclean animals as a call to reach the Gentiles, Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia calling him to minister there and the entire book of Revelation is a vision of the end times. So a God given vision has always been at the heart of doing the will of God. God’s vision takes us to new levels and challenges us to do new things we would not think to accomplish ourselves.
So what is a vision? George Barna defines it as, "Vision for ministry is a clear mental image of a preferable future imparted by God to His chosen servants and is based upon an accurate understanding of God, self and circumstances." Vision is more than simply what could be. It’s something that must happen. Vision moves you from passive concern to action. It gives you a sense of urgency. Barna goes on to say, “Unless God’s people have a clear understanding of where they are headed, the probability of a successful journey is severely limited. Unless you attend to His call upon your life and ministry, you are likely to experience confusion, weariness, dissipation and impotence…..visionless congregations fail to experience spiritual and numerical growth.” So having the clarity of God’s vision is absolutely critical. Most churches know the Great Commission but they have fuzzy sight as to how the Great Commission is to be uniquely expressed and lived out in the church’s culture or its ministry context. Having clarity of God’s vision is absolutely critical if a church is fulfill God will and purpose for it.