Tuesday, February 02, 2010


The Vision Thing

MMI linked to a post at You See Dry Bones on the cycle of church failure. I have to agree with the central thesis:
Regardless of who you are or what books you have read, if you attend a church, they have a vision. I don’t care if they are a house church, mega-church, mainline, or inter-denominational; at one point, there was a vision. If it is / was a good vision, it starts with the Gospel and transformation. Everything else (aesthetics, methods, music style, etc.) comes secondary.

It’s all down hill from here.

The problem is, most people do not pick out what church they go to based on vision. Instead, they pick through secondary things. Very few people research what the church stands for before they go. They research the style and MAYBE the doctrinal stances.


Often, we are left with only a few people who still see the vision and chase it. The rest are just consumers. Arguments flair up between those who have completely bought into the vision, and the rest. People get upset and leave the church.
See that pretty much everywhere. In some senses I cannot blame whoever is making decisions in the church. See, here's the thing. The Gospel and transformation is hard and not a lot of people are going to sign on for that. Yet the church has to support itself and that means butts in the pews and donation is the plate. The author, Don Dudley takes this set up as an opportunity to admonish the church jumpers of the world. I look at it a bit differently.

I wanna ask why it is that the "few people who still see the vision and chase it," are not using that vision to draw in the people that are there for all the "wrong" reasons. There is a vision problem if it does not attract people. As I said before, not a lot of people typically are willing to sigh on for "the Gospel and transformation." But if they are not, it's because we are not doing it right.

Here's how it ought to work. In 1989, I stepped into the Pontiac dealership looking to buy a reasonable car - a two-door, mid-size. But sitting there on the lot was a slightly used 1989 Bonneville SSE - an absolute automotive work-of-art. And - because it was slightly used, the price was right where I wanted it. I had that car for 20 years, put 200,000 miles on it and it is still being driven by a friend. It was not what I went to the dealership for, but it was so much better than what I was looking for, I just had to buy it.

People come to church for a lot of reasons, most of them have nothing to do with the real reason the church exists. That's to be expected. The problem is the real reason the church exists is supposed to be so attractive, such a deal (like the Bonneville) that it's what the people that come will end up buying.

If that is not happening - something is wrong with "the vision." That's where we need to start.

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