By Mark Dehority
My pastor asked me to join a visioning team for the church. In her discussion she mentioned finding God’s vision for our church.
So many times I hear people say that they are going to come up with their vision for their church.
I believe Pastor Beth* was very insightful when she spoke about God’s vision. As we discussed this activity we wondered if it was a discovery team, instead of a vision team.
God has a vision or a plan for each of us as individuals and as a group.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Our goal should be to discover God’s vision for us and our church. Dictionary.com defines vision as: “the act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be.”
I believe this discovery can only come through prayer and Scripture. God will tell us, it’s His nature.
To help with the discovery, Jesus clearly gives us two commandments and a commission. These have become our mission in The United Methodist Church.
Jesus says: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22: 37-39).
The commission is: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19).
In The United Methodist Church we translate this to our mission: “Make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Everything we do should relate back to this mission.
God’s vision is a future picture of what that looks like. We ask God, “What will we be doing in one or two or five years?” We ask God, “What activities will we as individuals and as a group actually be doing?”
The UMC translates God’s mission into the general rule of discipleship. This rule relates directly to the two commandments and commission. ”To witness to Jesus Christ in the world, and follow his teachings through acts of compassion, justice, worship, and devotions, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit." 2012 Book of Discipline 1117.2 a)
John Wesley interpreted these commandments as the backbone of our faith and movement. God wants us to demonstrate our love for him through acts of worship and devotion. God wants us to act through compassion and justice to show our love for our neighbors.
Our discovery centers on which acts of compassion, justice, worship and devotion God has planned for us. These acts are how we disciple ourselves and others. Acts of devotion and compassion (service) define our personal role. When we do these things they become acts of worship and justice.
• Our circumstance or situations are different.
• We are in different places in our faith walk.
• The Holy Spirit has gifted us differently.
• Our churches are in different locations and communities.
• The needs of our neighbors are different.
Thus the plans God has for us as individuals and groups are different.
God has a plan to use each and every one of us. Our journey of discovery involves working closely with God. We need to include Him on our discovery team as we study and listen.
This should be a fun and exciting time. We get to work closely with God.
The fruits of the spirit will pour in as we start down his path.
But, remember finding out what God wants us to do in the easy part. We must be faithful to the vision and the work.
It seems like there are a lot of similarities between this approach and the “No Man Left Behind” model from Understanding Men's Ministry. What a coincidence.
*The Rev. Beth McLaughin, associate pastor, Grace United Methodist Church, Decatur, Ill.
Mark Dehority, deployed staff
General Commission on UM Men
This article is part of the April UMM e-letter. Other authors of that e-letter include: