Notice how Jesus never said to his disciples: “So how should we do this whole “God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven‘ thing?“
As I meet with Pastor Nominating Committees, there is the conversation about when the vision should be cast (before the new pastor comes or after?) and who should cast it (the “Vision Team” that works before the new pastor arrives or the new pastor?) It’s got to be the pastor. The new pastor needs a sense of the congregation before she/he begins, of course.
- Is it clear that the congregation has No Idea how to be a 21st Century Church?
- Is it – sadly – clear that they do not want to be a 21st Century Church?
- Or do the people really want to grow/change/follow the way of Jesus but they need a fearless leader to shepherd the way?
These scenarios make a HUGE difference in terms of how things will go with said new pastor. Surefire way to guarantee disaster: Church leaders who have their own ideas about the church’s vision, especially when their vision focuses on:
- The congregation’s historic past.
- The church building.
- What a successful church looked like in the 1950s-1970s.
- Bullying other leaders.
- Character assassination of the pastor who challenges the elders’ own vision/power in the congregation.
I remember sitting through a challenging church meeting as the pastor shared his vision (sadly in a demanding & defensive way) and an elder who had worked as a “professional church consultant” shared her vision (saying that the pastor “worked for them” and served the vision of the lay leaders.) It was ugly. The elder/’professional church consultant’ chalked up the conflict to denominational differences. It was a union church comprised of several denominations. But actually the conflict was about Who Casts the Vision? It’s got to be the pastor, whose eye is on:
- what Jesus taught
- what love looks like in God’s reign
- what breaks God’s heart in the neighborhood and world
- the context (i.e. where this church lives)
And then – the congregation works together toward this vision. And what if your pastor’s vision is self-serving/reckless/nuts? Then maybe you need a new pastor. Although keep in mind that Jesus’ disciples thought he was nuts from time to time. Your pastor is not Jesus, but you can tell if you pastor is trying to follow Jesus.