Vision and Dis-ease
You like your church. You've found a community that seems healthy to you. You've been there for over a year now. You feel the freedom to find your own spiritual path and to walk it with integrity without fear of judgment. The teaching is good. It challenges you to think for yourself. The conversational approach to the teaching time encourages you to seek and to find with curiosity and courage. The pastor takes a hands-off approach that you find refreshing, respectful and liberating. You know if you have any questions, they will be respected and that resources will be made available to you to assist you in your individual search if you want. The worship is great too. The band is usually awesome and you like the music. The people feel free to experience it wholeheartedly if they want to. Your kids enjoy it. There are groups for them to join if desired. You have friends in this community. You feel connected. You know that if hard times come, there will be people to pray for you and support you in any way they can. You are given the opportunity to give, knowing that the church will not only use the money to support its own ministry, but also because you know the church is generous with its money in helping other churches and people in need. You are a part of this church because it augments your spiritual life in an integrative, holistic way, and doesn't violate your freedoms and person and values. Even though you commit yourself to the community, you still feel you are an authentically free individual and are respected as such. You don't feel sucked into some kind of religious vortex where you lose your voice and freedom and path, and you appreciate that. You have found a family and a home that has special meaning in your life.
Then one Sunday, the pastor says that he senses that something's missing. You are perplexed. What could be missing? This church already seems healthy to you. He goes on to say that he's decided the church needs a vision. He informs the congregation that he and the elders are going to start praying for a vision and start working on a mission statement.
You are disappointed. It saddens you that something so beautiful has suddenly been poisoned with expressions of discontent, ambition, and the destructive desire for the illusive "more" that you've learned to recognize.
You've seen this before in the last church you attended where they wanted more people and cloaked it in the language of evangelism.
And the church before that which wanted more money and cloaked it in the language of spiritual prosperity and charity.
And the church before that which wanted more programs and people to run them and cloaked it in the language of seeker-sensitivity.
And the church before that which wanted more of the Spirit to show up during worship and cloaked it in the language of renewal and spiritual passion.
You are getting tired. Can any community simply gather and just be happy to do the basics with peace, tranquility, joy and contentment? You wonder if any community can be free of this dis-ease.