VISION: I Cast You OUT!
I come back to the issue of vision and mission statements again and again because it is very important to me. It is also extremely important to the church. I have witnessed and experienced this first hand. This is not theoretical, but practical help for churches. I have seen and experienced the negative impact vision and mission statements have upon the church, and I wish churches would stop needing them, creating them, drafting them and casting them. The church would be healthier for it. So here are just 10 reasons why vision and mission statements should be expelled from the life of the church. Vision and mission statements...
- distract from the primary purpose of the church, which is to be a community‚Ä¶ a spiritual family, and focus attention and energy on doing something. I've seen meetings where critical relational issues were ignored in order to prioritize a vision's immediate demands.
- tantalize the people to follow a code rather than their own hearts. How many times have I heard it said, when a unique need presented itself to the community, "Well, that's not what we do!"
- aren't found from the earliest church right through to recent history. They are a modern phenomenon excited by their success in the business world. I believe they are necessary in business, but are a virus to the church. Inject just a small dose and in time it will crash the vitality of the local spiritual family. They might produce more activity, even positive activity, but the core health of the spiritual family will be compromised.
- promise the success and longevity of the group rather than the individual health of its members.
- transfigure what is meant to be a spiritual family into an energy unit, a lobby group, or an activist organization. There is nothing wrong with these things, as long as we understand that this is a forsaking of our primary identity as a family. It would be like Lisa and I insisting that we were put on this earth to raise 3 children, when in fact our primary identity and role is lovers from which child-rearing emanates.
- insinuate competition between local churches. Whenever I've been in meetings where demands for vision and mission statements were given, it always threw me back to Israel demanding a king because all of her enemies did. God consented. We are allowed to create and employ vision and mission statements without God smiting us. But that doesn't mean its the best way.
- divert the pastor's attention away from the primary practice of prayer, study of scripture and teaching. Rather, the pastor's attention and energy usually get poured into inventing and crafting a sexy vision statement, convincing the leaders to endorse it, and inducing the congregation to comply to it.
- assume we can predict the future and predetermine our actions in it. Almost all people I've spoken with admit that the vision and mission statement of their community is quickly redesigned, abandoned or forgotten as soon as tomorrow hits with full force.
- behave like an addictive drug: once you buy in, you can never find the perfect high. They constantly lose their appeal and demand that they be traded up into something stronger and more satisfying.
- tempt us to take our attention away from what is right now to what should be by now. They introduce a subtle dissatisfaction with who and what is, and instill an appetite for something better than what we already have right here right now.