We’ve been worshipping in Midtown for six months now but haven’t started any ministries. No programs. No initiatives. No campaigns.
We’ve done this on purpose. We wanted to approach our new context and our new project as missionaries. We took on the activities of prayer, listening, and telling really good stories so that we could know ourselves, know our context, and know our God.
In other words, we’ve needed to pray about our VISION and think through our MISSION.
Vision and Mission are words we hear a lot, and they’re often used interchangeably. But they are not the same. They both need to be present in any organization or church, but they need to come in the right order. And they need to be clearly defined.
What is Vision?
- Vision is faith bringing the future and the present together (Power of Vision, 13).
- Vision is a clear mental image of a preferable future imparted by God to his chosen servants and is based upon an accurate understanding of God, self, and circumstances (Barna).
When the vision isn’t clear, people do whatever makes sense to them. The result is chaos, confusion, ineffectiveness, fruitlessness, and even disobedience (Busic). King Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived outside of Jesus, said it this way: “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18, KJV).
Vision and Mission
We need vision. But vision and mission are intricately connected, and it is necessary that we have both. Here’s some helpful ways to think about how they are different and how they work together:
- Vision is being. (Who you are)
- Mission is doing. (What you do)
- Vision is the message.
- Mission is the methods.
- Vision is where we are going.
- Mission is how we are going to get there.
A lot of organizations, including churches, try to implement strategy without any guiding principle – without a clear VISION. They are out of focus. They end up looking busy but they are ineffective.
Then there are other organizations, including churches, that speak about vision all of the time. However, while they know where they want to go, they don’t DO much of anything to get there.
So we need VISION and MISSION. But vision must always come first. You can’t invert the two. If you don’t know the target and what you’re aiming for, you are unlikely to hit anything.
This is why we say our VISION and our MISSION every week:
“We will BE a spiritual community of hope and transformation (VISION) that LIVES the way of Jesus (MISSION).”
Living Out Our Mission
You might be asking, what exactly do you mean by living the way of Jesus? What kind of ministries or activities does this include?
These are good questions. These are the questions we have been praying about, and will continue to explore for a long time to come. But we know this: living the way of Jesus is something that we do with eyes wide open, examining our culture and context.
And so through prayer and listening we have come to believe that we can live the way of Jesus by focusing these three things:
• Find and restore an urban building. The restoration of a physical space in our city is a metaphor for the transformation we want to experience in ourselves and our neighbors. We also want a home so we can engage in meaningful relationships with our closest neighbors and care for our parish (the area geographically surrounding the church).
• Minister to and care for children here in our church and in our city. Being good and useful neighbors must begin with the most vulnerable among us and around us.
• Develop multi-cultural, multi-ethnic, multi-relational relationships. The Gospel of Jesus is all about breaking down barriers and uniting people with God and with one another. We want to experience meaningful connections with those who are not like us, because this is what we see God doing.
What You Can Do
We do not believe that these things will be easy, nor do we even know all the steps to take to make them reality. But we know and trust that God will provide for us what we cannot provide ourselves. So we invite our church and our partners in ministry to pray for God’s grace and power as we seek to embody the vision He has given us:
Pray for the 8th Street Church (701 NW 8th St.) – we want to have a place that we can call home. Also, pray for financial resources and partners so that we might be able to restore the building.
Pray that we would be able to cross cultural and racial barriers so that we might be able to listen to our neighbors with compassion and hospitality.
Pray that we might be able to have a love for the vulnerable around us. We also seek wisdom as we care for the children in our church and our city.
We want to move toward this VISION as we live the way of Jesus!
The Power of Vision: Discover and Apply God’s Plan for Your Life and Ministry, p. 13.
David Busic, 2005 Vision Sermon, Bethany First Church of the Nazarene, August 2005.