The conversation was about outreach and one of the guys’ recent trip to Haiti to do some construction missions work. Somehow, among the three of us as the weekly men’s meeting, the idea of vision was brought up. It must have been in response to the question of “how can we minister here?” We all agreed that without a vision or a goal to achieve we are prone to wander and miss the mark. Our faith may be huge, but if we don’t have a corporate vision to move us in a certain direction, our influence will be diffused.
Then came the story of Portland. I perked up given my time in the Rose City. The story told of how decades ago Portland’s waterways were filthy. The rivers running through the town were neglected and forgotten. The story relayed how transportation in the city was constant gridlock and the streets were more equipped for the traffic of 1890 not 1980. And the story revealed how people were fleeing the inner core of the city, buying and building homes in suburbs to escape the traffic, pollution and crime. But the story took a turn. Someone, decades gone now, had a vision for the city. They worked to share that vision and spark residents into action to claim the vision and help it become a reality. They did this by running a campaign that was geared to showing a before and after look at the city. The before pictures were real, the right now. The dirty rivers, the congestion on the streets the vacant downtown. This was the awakening to the reality. This is where the people recognized how they were living. It was eye-opening. But that was only half of the campaign. The after pictures were of what could be. If they sweat together to make it a reality. The waterways were clean and enjoyed, the traffic was alleviated, people would be living in the core of the city in abundance. It was vision. It was what the leaders believed should happen.
The campaign worked. Today if you enjoy the riverside parks and new residential living, if you partake in the mass transit system and if you live in the inner core; you are a result of that campaign. Sure there are things that didn’t quite work out the way some had hoped but together a city was on mission to realize a vision.
Where is your church? What would the “before” pictures look like? Stagnation, grumbling, no planning, confused purpose. Is it time for some vision?
In the church context our primary vision is that of Christ. We must work to show our people what a Jesus-centered community can look like. How the gospel is not just for conversion but for all of life. Then from there how can we be influential for the kingdom. How can we train, send, go to bring Christ to others? Is it time for some new vision?