Visionary Inquiry


Currently our church is going through the input process prior to the solidification of 5-year vision.  My role has mainly been that of facilitation;  to solicit feedback from staff and congregational members.  They are answering the question, “Where does God what our church to be by 2012?”   (The initial process started back January 06, was affirmed by Bill Hybels talk, “Vision to Die For” at the Leadership Summit Conference, 07)

The answers to this question are then electronically filed and categorized (through staff breakout groups) to help our senior leaders view surfaced patterns as they begin to narrow a unified, tangible, & contextual expression of our church’s purpose.  The immediate future statement will then be a woven dance of going to and from senior leadership and the congregation as we work to refine the painting of this passionate picture.

As I have been conducting open and closed input sessions for the past two months, it has been interesting to hear some of the reactions from congregational members (some positive…some negative).

A portion of an e-mail response I received follows:

Another Scriptural event floated was ” Moses got his vision from God at Mt. Sinai, and he communicated the vision to the people when he came down. ” All throughout the Scripture it never said that the leadership consulted with the people and formulated their vision base on the referendum.

I understand this hesitation, & do see there being a need for sole leadership decision making at certain times.  However, I do wonder if this era of top-down leadership within biblical history has passed.  As God has communicated to his people through various means over history (i.e. audibly, prophets, Jesus, scripture, etc.), I wonder if he uses leaders in different ways too?

Are we not in the “church age” which is more about collaboration, facilitation, and servant leadership?  Isn’t the church a conglomeration of various, spiritually gifted people all working towards the mission at hand?  Don’t each of the congregational members all have the same Spirit of God within them, having merit to be heard?

Is the role of the church leader more about instilling their vision from “up on high,” or more about identifying & summarizing the overall vision within the Spirit-led people of his or her local body?

Questions I am wrestling through.


~ by Dave Smith on January 21, 2008.

4 Responses to “Visionary Inquiry”

  1. obviously your emailer wasn’t a Quaker. “All throughout Scripture,” eh? What scriptures exactly is he (or she) reading? I mean, if we want to be perfectly Biblical about this, perhaps the leaders of the church should all gather in a room & say what they think is best. Then at the end of discussion you have two choices…throw dice or draw straws. Because these are the clearest pictures we in the New Testament. As for Moses, God was giving him the Bible, essentially. And I’m pretty sure that we shouldn’t create a new one of those, so maybe we should steer clear of single voice vision. Seems to me that the New Testament church was very much about collaboration and community. About sharing with each other. About discussing (and disagreeing at times) and growing together. There was no one person that led a church (or the church) in the NT. There was no pastor. That’s an invention of later Christianity. There were elders and deacons. There was the “royal priesthood”…and it just so happens that we’re all a part of it, as believers in Christ…

    wow…anyway. don’t get a Quaker started on top-down structure. If you want un-Biblical, have ONE Sr. Pastor to rule them all, One SP to find them, One SP to bring them all and in the darkness bind them ; )…

  2. I knew you guys had more to offer than just your oatmeal!

    You know…that’s the great thing about water baptism! A way to identify and connect with the entire church body showing the interlocking of mind & mission.


  3. I am a baptized Friend, not a Quaker, and I line up with jdh on this issue.

    I think you would get fewer “bad analogy” emails if you prefaced some of the input gathering by providing people with some education as to how the church and society have evolved over time and why all this matters.

    I think I would like some help understanding what we think Akron, the region and society will look like 5 or 10 years out, before I chime in on what The Chapel should look like.

    Above all I want to be the church that is known for loving people and majoring on the gospel.

  4. Good comments Denny. yea, I see your point about “bad anology” although not necessarily wanting to quickly dismiss it. I have heard this before by well-respected leaders, and there are times to “Top-down” lead (if you believe in “situational leadership”) so definitely want to wrestle with the challenge.

    I like your point about where Akron is going. That shows good exercise in wanting to be “contextual.”

    I have looked at the recent census stuff…and I see a decrease in the downtown district…but still an influx in the burbs (where we mainly pull from.

    Regarding the desires of city leadership, I know there is a strong push to make it more of a arts/young professionals district…but that will take time…being more of a 20 year plan.

    What have you heard?

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