If your local church were a classic car, what shape would you say it is in? If your visioning and planning have turned your car into a classy roadster, how is it looking these days? If your visioning and planning have turned it into a minivan, how is it holding up? What was your church originally planned to be, in classic car terms? Why did the founders build it that way? What circumstances made it that way? What happened through the years to change your church’s original design into something new and responsive to the times? Is that change you made back then still serving you well?
We may be in a new day, a new era. You may have taken part in visioning and panning exercises in the hope of restoring your “car” to its best minivan shape, only to discover there are not so many children to ride in it in your immediate neighborhood anymore. You may have added staff and programs only to find that people don’t take part in such programs anymore.
The key is not finding what previous version of yourselves you liked best and then taking steps to restore yourselves to that moment in time. Why not? Because you are not your own church. You are God’s church. You belong to the God the Creator, the Redeemer, and the Sanctifier. And God is still creating a trustworthy world right in your neighborhood. Go and find out what God is already busy doing in your neighborhood to fulfill God’s mission of creating trustworthiness. Figure out where you are now, relative to that work of God. Your vision, when it is aligned with God’s current work of creating, redeeming, and sanctifying in your neighborhood, will give you the best restoration kit you could ever find. Between your congregation and the neighbors, claiming “We Are Here Now” will provide you with all the spare parts and elbow grease it will take to restore your church right squarely into God’s mission in your place.
Pat Taylor Ellison