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Our Vision for the Churchby Duane Mabee on January 18, 2020
I recently read some thoughts on the church by Andrew Camp that challenged me. He quotes Dietrich Bonhoeffer from his classic work, Life Together. Bonhoeffer’s thoughts will challenge you because we are enamored with visionary leadership – maybe too enamored. What he says, though, has more to do with our expectations of what the community we call the church should be. He wrote:
“God hates visionary dreaming; it makes the dreamer proud and pretentious. The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with his demands, sets up his own law, and judges the brethren and God Himself accordingly…. When his ideal picture is destroyed, he sees the community going to smash. So he becomes, first an accuser of his brethren, then an accuser of God, and finally the despairing accuser of himself.
“Because God has already laid the only foundation of our fellowship, because God has bound us together in one body with other Christians in Jesus Christ, long before we entered into common life with them, we enter into that common life not as demanders but as thankful recipients. We thank God for what He has done for us. We thank God for giving us brethren who live by His call, by His forgiveness and His promise. (pp. 27-28).”
We need to have a vision for our church, but sometimes we get so caught up in our vision, planning and execution that we don’t stop to seek God’s heart for our church. How do we balance our desires with God’s? Here are some thoughts distilled from Camps article:
- Pray for your church. Thank God for placing you in that specific community. Don’t repress your frustrations about your church, but in the midst of frustrations, be thankful as much as you are able.
- Listen to God. Don’t spend so much time in prayer for your church that you miss God’s voice to you regarding your church. Remember that God has already laid the foundation.
- Spend time listening to other people. Get to know where they are and what they need to continue to grow spiritually.
- Get to know your church. What are the specific challenges your church faces? What is good about your church that helps foster community?
- Learn from other churches, but not simply to copy. Just because it worked for one church does not mean it will work for you.