Recently I had the privilege of a conversation with Melanie Wallschlaeger, mission developer for SW Washington Synod, ELCA, she impressed upon me the need for care in developing the vision for a church. A vision needs to connect the community to God, to the community and to each other; to community it’s esp. important not merely as service provider but in relationship. When you’re gone, if the community misses what you do, you’re a provider. If the community knows who you are and misses YOU, you are in relationship and a good one. You impact the community emotionally as well as by what you do.
The issue boils down to who sets the vision for the church and who decides what is best. Far from being an “anything goes” situation, there has to be at least a few objective standards for what constitutes a church, and a healthy one. If a church is focused inward, on itself, no matter how many members “catch the vision” it is not a good vision for the church, or it may be a good vision for a social club but not a community of faith. When facilitating, asking questions like “Is that the most important thing for (y)our congregation to do?” and “What would Jesus say about such a vision?” Such questions can keep the focus of the vision on others and God, not within.