Mission today is often lost in the bling of cleverness! For the past decade the missional renaissance has compelled leaders and congregations to get serious about mission. So, the head honchos of church organization and administration have aimed us toward the processes of mission clarification. It is the stuff of mission statements, core values, goals and objectives, and all of the other paraphernalia of a well-organized church. Being on mission has become a board room activity, beginning in the chalk talk of brain-storming sessions, ending in the cleverness of well-crafted words and catchy phrasing. The wordsmiths have sculpted mission and vision statements to inform and inspire, respectively. I mean, without a vision, the people perish, right? You just can't be a church today without a tag line, logo, mission statement that fits on a t-shirt or coffee mug, and a vision statement that thrills the soul and mobilizes us at the front lines of this modern warfare.
Trouble is, it isn't about vision at all. Shoot, search committees ask candidates what their vision is for their church. Get a life!!! I usually advise the prospective staffers to move on after that question. The people who ask such questions don't get it. You see, the church isn't about our vision. What matters is revelation. God's vision is the deal, what God desires for His church. Missional people get this.
Peter confessed Jesus as "...the Christ, the Son of the Living God" (Matthew 16:16). It was spot on. Jesus then said something very significant in this regard. He said, "Blessed are you Simon bar Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven...on this rock I will build my church" (Matthew 16: 17-18). The church Jesus is building is constructed on the solid truth of revelation, and not some cleverly contrived vision statement.
Vision mania creates a dust-cloud of busy-ness that far too often obscures mission. Pop religion chases such things, pursues them with vengeance, believing that Christ's church cannot progress without a compelling vision, a future that is articulated with clarity, a precise photo op of what is coming. Surely, we do need clear direction. Just as surely, God gives it! So, the compelling vision isn't contrived by slick marketing types with savvy think-tank tactics. It is revealed by God. Missional congregations and leaders are tuned to revelation. Their unity isn't forced or the agreement of yes men giving verbal acquiescence to some wild scheme the pastor and staff devise. It is a compelling revelation from God that moves the missional team.
This is another shift. The whole "Purpose Driven" thing placed vision and mission on the screen, no longer aggravating pop-ups to remind us, but now, but clearly morphed truths that moved us into a missional framework. As is most changes there is a tendency for wide pendulum swings and the influence of the Saddleback success drove many congregations to the vision quest. Prospective church members ask about vision. It is a prominent feature of web sites, blogs, printed data, newsletters, and all the other church glitz. All well and good. Getting vision on the radar screen.
But, it isn't our dreams for the church. It is what God wants of us. So, it is revelation. Missional people pray for it, pursue it, get it, live it. It's the revelation thing. And, we better make this shift now!