Nov 292007

One of my former pastors defined vision as “being able to see the preferable future”.  Andy Stanley defines vision as “being able to see what could be fueled by the conviction of what should be.

There is no doubt that it can be difficult to maintain focus on the vision in a local church setting.  Most churches over time gravitate toward making decisions for the future based on what it takes to keep those inside the church happy rather than based on the need to reach those outside the church with the gospel of Jesus.  Simply put, it is easy for vision to slip and drift. 

How do you stay focused on vision?  How do you stay outwardly focused in a local church context where you began with the idealistic dream of reaching those outside the church with the incredible message of redemption that Jesus offers? 

In Andy Stanley’s booklet Making Vision Stick, he offers some gauges and indicators to keep your eye on that will signal vision slippage or vision drift.  He mentions six organizational warning gauges that can warn you concerning the loss of vision or the gradual drift of the vision of your church. 

This is a huge issue for Church Planters!

These gauges or indicators are divided into two major groups:

Projects, Products, and Programs

People or ideas that are presented for new programs can infringe upon the vision of the church.  They can be GREAT ideas and potentially rewarding in how they attract and reach out to new people.  They can be presented in a way that make them hard to resist and turn down.  In the early stages of a new church they can seem necessary for survival.  THEY CAN ALSO DISTRACT FROM THE VISION!  Stanley refers to two practical ideas that surface in churches.  Some people want to start a christian school and some people want to start a sports program run by the church.  Starting a school most often results in changing the direction of the church.  Starting a church sports program takes followers of Jesus off the recreational fields in the community where they have contact with unchurched, disconnected and unconvinced people.  Why would you want to take followers of Jesus away from having contact with people that need Jesus and bring them back into the safe confines of the church facility?  Stanley states,

“We have turned them down because a sports program is actually counter to our vision.  One of the best ways for believers in our community to connect with unchurched people is through their children’s recreational activities.  Why would we bring all of that in-house and pull our folks out of the recreational parks and gyms in our community?”

Requests, Stories, and Complaints

The questions people ask about your church, the stories they tell and the complaints they make reveal what they value in life and what is important to them regarding the life of your church.  Questions, complaints, and stories will tell you a great deal about what is on the minds and hearts of the people in an organization.  Begin to take note about what information people in your church ask for.  Notice what they talk about after a weekend when reflecting on the services.  Do they talk about the music, the sermon or do they take notice that there were not a lot of visitors or guests?  Do people ask or talk about unchurched people in the community?  Do they tell stories about their conversations with people and who they are reaching out to?  Do they complain about parking, the length of the service, the coffee and snacks, or do they complain that the church isn’t seeing people turning to Christ or having enough impact in the community?

Keep these indicators and gauges in mind as you consider how to monitor how well your vision as a church is sticking with people or if it is potentially drifting or slipping from where it began. 

Vision is vital to any church, but particularly a church plant.  Many, if not most, church plants suffer from vision drift and typically end up looking very different in 5 or 10 years from the way and intention they began with.  Most drift toward keeping the members or “already convinced” happy and satisfied.  In our culture where as much as 85% of the people in our communities are not connected to a church, we need to stick to our vision of reaching the unchurched, disconnected and unconvinced!

What are thoughts?  Post a comment and let me know.

 Posted by at 3:17 pm
Nov 282007

One of the pleasures we have as a family each year is traveling to South Georgia to be with Jill’s family for a day at Thanksgiving.  We go to “Uncle Hub’s” place on Thanksgiving day for an incredible meal and we get to take part in a variety of activities like grinding sugar cane and making syrup.  We ride four-wheelers, gators, horses, and we fish.  This year I caught about ten fish in just a couple of hours.  The weather was perfect and we had a blast!

I love the down time!  In ministry and particularly in church planting, having some downtime is so critical to continuing the mission that God has called us to.  Are you getting the downtime necessary for you to minister to those around you?  If not, what are you willing to do to make the necessary changes?

Check out the fishing pics:

Fishing on the farmfarm-fishing-2-112207.JPG

 Posted by at 11:50 am
Nov 282007

One of the desires we have at CATGrove is to BE IN the community and share the love of Jesus in a practical way.

I am so excited about this Saturday and our community ministry called “Shop With A Hero”.  We will have approximately 40 children partnered with an officer or personal in uniform.  They will be given a one hundred dollar gift card and sent into Wal-Mart to shop for themselves and their family. 

We accomplish three major things in this community effort:

  • We create a positive experience for a child and a person of authority where otherwise their encounters with people in uniform is quite different and difficult.
  • We give them a meaningful Christmas experience for this holiday season with gift-buying and giving.
  • We simply share the love of Jesus in a practical way with the children, the parents, and many officers we might not otherwise have contact with. 

If you are a CATGrover, come out to the Loganville Wal-Mart and help us love on some incredible people in our community!

 Posted by at 11:42 am
Nov 262007

This morning was great at Church at the Grove.  Here are some thoughts on the weekend:

  • It was a blessing not to have to set up everything this morning!  With school out for the week we were allowed to leave everything set up for the whole week.  It made the start of the morning much more relaxed. 
  • Our attendance was down some with the holiday travelers still gone, but we had a great time of worship.
  • We had Aaron and Robin Bruski with us to share about their incredible ministry in Romania.  They are awesome and have such godly character.  Check out their ministry on the web at Belief in Motion and watch the great video that shares what they do in Romania.  Because of our churches generosity, we were able to give them a gift!
  • We are praying about where God would have us partner to invest in ministry on a global level. 
  • We have an incredibly busy week ahead with getting ready for “Shop with a Hero” this coming Saturday morning.  We have lots to do. 
  • Next Sunday night is our “Night of Worship” at 6pm at Youth Middle School.  It will be incredible as David and the Worship Community lead us in celebrating what God has done this past year and look ahead to next year.  DON’T MISS IT!
  • DAWGS over TECH 31-17!  Unbelievable finish to make it a great year and the DAWGS should end up going to a BCS bowl. 
  • I love my community Group and it saddens my heart to have our last group meeting together for the semester.  They have been great and it is always so refreshing to make new friends and get to know people more closely.  God is working in some of the people in our group in a great way. 
  • You will not want to miss this next week on Sunday morning as we look at some ways that God is working in our local community!
  • We asked two questions from this morning:  Why has God Blessed us?  and Have we disconnected the blessing of God from the purpose of God? 
  • Check out the Bruski picture below

Bruski Family ministering in Romania

 Posted by at 12:18 am