Swinging from the Vine / 808 posts / 2,772 comments / feed / comments feed

vision shmision

Thanks to the naked pastor for laying it bare and beating the crap out of it.

I’ve created and tried to sustain vision in the past, as well as press its importance on the church. And I’ve seen those visions crush people and myself, especially when the vision is destroyed and proven empty. Friends say, “Well, then get a better vision!” No! I learned my lesson right away: vision kills. I refuse to try to create vision or vision cast or get the community to shape one and pursue it. Why? Because it kills what is. It murders life.

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  1. John Smulo — May 14, 2007 #


    I’m not sure I completely understand what naked pastor or you are referring to as vision. The way I understand it, I see at least a little of it in your church’s ‘just the facts’ page for example. Can you share more of your thoughts on this?

  2. Mak — May 14, 2007 #

    that’s true, I guess I’m picturing the sort of “vision” that I grew up with in the church, vision statements and long term stradeges and specific mission statements…maybe David and I are talking about different things but I’m imagining David as talking about something more than just “plans” when he refers to “vision”..you’ll have to ask him :)

  3. Dan — May 14, 2007 #

    It’s all about operational definitions. As you can tell about the copious amounts of comments on the Naked Pastor’s Blogs. Look into feminist counseling theory. the operational definitions of the majority tend to exert power onto the minority. The comments from “john” exemplify this well. Especially his suggestion of giving up all power and prosperity. If one were to give up all of this would one feel the same. I say the ethical would say “yes” it is worth it. However, John fears not being the majority and not having the power.
    Man, i love feminist theory.

  4. Mak — May 14, 2007 #

    LOL…dan, you’re so deep dude.

    I see so clearly what David is saying but I’m not sure I can articulate it any better than he can to “john”. I also understand what people mean when they say “what do you mean no vision?! are you mad?”

    I just liked David’s feisty provocation LOL

  5. Lyn — May 15, 2007 #

    I think that David hasn’t made it 100% clear what he is referring to with vision. In terms of church vision statements etc. then I totally understand what David is getting at. I think they can hinder people and perhaps even put too much pressure on people to conform to “the vision” etc. Churches have become too much like businesses in the regards of vision statements, mission statements etc.

    I have to believe in vision for my life though. God has given Jonathan and I a vision for what we think He wants us to do, and we will continue to listen to him as we try and fulfill that vision for our lives.

  6. Paul — May 15, 2007 #

    Is the problem that between the vision their is such a huge gulf called reality that folk just don’t how to span it? Vision then becomes this cruel crushing burden which we self flagilate ourselves with and decry our failure to achieve - because it is a thing…

    what happens when we take that vision and make it a living document, we talk about our hopes and dreams but also our fears and failures. We are open to change and trying new things but we also remind ourselves how far we have come together, what God has done with us and how we dream for the future what that might look like.

    sometimes we will need to repent and say heh we felt God caled us to do this but you know we haven’t really bothered, other times we might have to repent cos we have just done what we thought was good and never really involved God.

    Saying we’ll have a church of x size with y ministries by 2010 probably is a killer cos we can’t really control that. Trying to be part of God’s living story for our community and dreaming and acting that out what that means for us as individuals and as part of our church institutions is maybe a healthier way to be?

  7. nakedpastor — May 15, 2007 #

    nakedpastor here. i did define the “vision” i’m challenging: “a corporate long-term goal.” don’t do it!

  8. Mak — May 15, 2007 #

    lyn - God has given (my) David and I a “vision” too , but it’s become more and more broad and general actually. Any time we thought we had a specific vision, it has been as David described - - a crushing burden that ended up leaving us feeling condemned

  9. Mak — May 15, 2007 #

    David re-asserted his meaning over at his blog as the corporate idea of a vision statement. That pretty much sums it up for me and is what I agree with.

    I guess I just “get” what David is saying and resonated with his post.

    we have ideas for Revolution, we have a direction we’re moving in but we don’t have a vision statement in the corporate sense. And our direction is the path on which God guides our steps so it’s extremely fluid…really just a direction.

  10. Lyn — May 15, 2007 #

    Mac, I really don’t think we need a corporate vision statement - church is not a business. We need the vision God gives us, which from my perspective is a road with lots of bends in it - make sense? Vision statements etc are the things which burden us, and quite frankly I can’t be doing with.

  11. Mak — May 15, 2007 #

    Lyn, yep, I totally get what you’re saying :)

  12. John Smulo — May 15, 2007 #

    Thanks for the clarification, and lots of good comments above.

    I’m wrestling a little–I mean lot–with this. The first church we planted I came with the whole corporate vision process and people jumped on board and ran with it. This second time planting I didn’t come with any of it and wanted people to contribute together to forming who we’d be as a community–though I shared some general ideas. The response to this was far less productive. So we’ve temporarily hit the “pause” button and are rethinking a third way to form a new community, which will probably have an approach somewhere in the middle.

    Anyhow, I say the above to suggest raise that sometimes the lack of vision thing sounds better in theory than works in practice.

    Also, I don’t really buy that just because a vision statement isn’t written down that there isn’t a vision. If we say “we want to be an inclusive community”–that’s vision. If we say “we don’t want to be a church that is tied to a building”–that’s vision. I don’t know that we can escape vision. However, we can escape corporate written statements. But if we have vision, what’s the problem with writing it down? Unless it becomes then set in stone.

  13. Mak — May 15, 2007 #

    I understand what you’re saying John.

    I think it’s very much an issue of opperational definitions like Dan was talking about.

    I wouldn’t be too hasty to say though that it only works in conversation and not in practice. From the sounds of it, not having a corporate vision statement has worked for David’s church.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with having ideas about the future, having a plan. I’m just not sure that’s really the same thing as a “vision statement” in the way David is talking about…but you’d have to ask him :)

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