I beleive that each local church is unique and is given a specific mission from God that falls into the overall larger mission that every church has to glorify God and make disciples (apprentices) of Jesus. One of the things that happens to many of us is that without a motivating vision that is unique to us… we jump from one idea to the next in the hopes that something will get us where we want to go. I confess that I am part of a movement of pastors in America that have hopped on the Conference bandwagon that we spend time at ministry conferences hearing what is happening in certain churches and then try to imitate that hoping that it will help us too! Doing this ignores the fact that God has made each church unique and called us to a unique purpose. God doesn’t mass produce his church… each church is unique. “If we copy someone else’s vision, who will accomplish ours?”

In his book Church Unique, Will Mancini shares a process that will help us identify our unique vision and then a framework to guide the living out of that vision.

We all know that vision is key to kingdom growth. I came to Community of Joy in 1999 and in the first 10 months we changed the name, cast a new vision, established core values, and empowered leaders to lead… and as a result saw phenomenal growth, but then about 10 months into our journey, we started to platuea and then decline until a year ago, when God provided a new ministry center for us in the form of a building we purchased and renovated. That process brought us together in a profound way and as a result, we experienced another growth spurt… now we are back to the level we were at in late 2000 when we began our first plateau. Interesting enough, we are now experiencing another plateau. Having been down that road before, I don’t want to go there again… that’s why I am calling our congregation to embark on a journey of clarifying vision and even considering partnering with one of Will Mancini’s Vision Navigators to help us do that.

One of the realities that we still face inspite of casting a new vision and having buy in… is that for most of our long term core folks… the motivating vision for them is still to become a self-supporting autonomous congregation that has it’s own building and meets it’s budget, pays it’s mortgage on time and experiences modest growth. But that really isn’t much of a vision and certainly not one that we need God’s help to accomplish!

Besides, the church is a by-product of a motivating vision not the focus of vision. Being the incarnational/ missional people of God who are sent into the world to share God’s love with the world and invite people to join in the journey is the overarching vision we have and if we can live out that in specific and unique ways, people will be drawn to the journey and the church will grow.