Thoughts from Pastor Baker
Building a 2020 Vision for
Our God’s Church in Shelton
Building a 2020 Vision for Our God’s Church in Shelton over the years I (and all of us) have had to have my eyes checked periodically to see how well I can still see and read. The standard for vision never seems to change, but my eyes do. Astigmatism, near-sightedness and farsightedness as well as wear, age, disease, dust and allergies, trauma, cataracts and glaucoma are all things that can cause a vision to fade or cause a temporary ability to not see clearly. This is why we keep going back and having our vision tested, usually by professionals. Too often we wait to the point that can go to far before we take corrective action. Sometimes all it takes is a corrective lens. Sometimes a small procedure, and others, well it takes some major effort to restore 2020 vision. Sometimes though even that is not a possible achievement, so we seek to find the best vision possible for ourselves and our circumstances.
The life of a church and a congregation can have a similar life story. What is the standard of a vision that God gives us? How well can we see the charts and read the letters? How do we stand up when tested by the various means of testing our vision? Do we have 2020 vision? Or do we deceive ourselves into thinking we see clearly because the deterioration has taken place over time? Perhaps even we do as I have done in the DMV, merely memorize the chart and repeat the letters yet fail to see them truly. Sometimes the corrective measures are minor. Sometimes it only takes a special lens through which to view the world and our circumstances. Other times though it may take more effort to bring about the best vision possible, to be able to see and recognize and describe to others all the wonders of God and His message of Grace for us.
So, what is the test? How do we get our vision checked? How well do we read the charts of God’s Word and Way for us?
Three Steps: (Or What Do We Do? What is God asking of us?)
1. Who is Our Target?
2. How do we Reach Them?
3. How do we meet their needs?
These are not questions for me to answer but are questions we need to ask ourselves as individuals but more so as a people of God. and asking ourselves if what I/We am/are doing is meeting the answers to these questions. If so, celebrate the results of our vision, and if not, to look for the corrections in the way we see to bring about the best vision for 2020 we can achieve.
Before we can answer those questions, we need to reflect on these…
1. Who are we? (Identity)
2. What are we like? (Personal Preferences)
3. Who is our neighbor? (Context)
4. What is God calling us to do here (Ultimate Purpose)
As is true as all of us descendants of the reformation, we do all of this in Scriptural Accountability for our plans and our actions and our desires.
Once we have answered the first questions, we can now consider the “Process” questions, but we need also to answer process questions considering Personal Preferences, and also institutional well-being. These two takes into consideration traditions and heritage, and Resources.
Moving forward, we as a congregation, those appointed and elected as leaders of our congregation, and especially your elders and I, must answer the questions, how do we do this?
And so, we follow a 6-step process:
• Objectives. Our Elders, and I are to equip, empower and encourage ourselves and each ministry leader to establish goals and objectives that will allow us and encourage us to rejoice and grow in God’s Grace as we seek Him, strive to serve Him, and Share Him and His message of reconciliation to the world and extend His loving hand to our community, and to focus our energy and resources to that end.
• Activities. What specific activities might each ministry area need to adopt or engage in that would help us seek Him, Serve Him, and Share Him, and extend His love to others? What activities might we need to give up, or alter to accomplish our main objectives?
• Resources. What resources are needed to do these activities and reach our objectives? Which of these resources do we have now? How do we prioritize and distribute them? How do we acquire those resources we do not have? What alternatives are there?
• Obstacles. We need to acknowledge what obstacles we face in our objectives, and what potent obstacles we might face, and be proactive in overcoming them, avoiding them, and being realistic in our abilities to do that.
• Evaluation. How do we evaluate our activities? What will be the mark of success? How much time do we give a particular activity? Is the activity performing according to our realistic expectations? Does it continue to deserve the time, energy and resources we devoted to it? Knowing these things in advance will help us to stay focused and encouraged when we don’t see immediate or “significant” results.
• Communication. How will we let the congregation, and the community, know what we are doing, why we are doing it? How do we continue to let them know what we need, and how they can help? How do we communicate how things are going? How do we show we are being good stewards of all the resources entrusted to us? These are the means by which we will find ourselves seeing the world in and around Shelton with the same eyes of God towards these people who are also worthy of the love, grace, mercy of God. If there was ever a Reformation objective, this is it. To stand true to the Word and all that it has to say to us and for us for the sake of the redemption of the world. We pray for God to help us see clearly in 2020 and to have good vision for the year ahead and onward into the years to come.
Grant this we pray O Lord, Amen.