Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Vision Casting

So it seems the language of the business world, and the church alike for more than 20 years now has been that of Mission and Vision.

As is usual of late, I too have been pondering on this very concept.

This evening for some reason I had an insight...maybe it is the 44oz Pepsi I am working my way through during dinner, the headache I have had all day, or the ongoing search for meaning (my apologies to Viktor Frankl)

I was thinking about vision casting. I have been asking questions of our Administrative Council each month as we deal with the business of the church about the mission and vision we have for the future of the Del Rosa UMC.

Vision Casting has been presented for so long as this thing you cast over the congregation that they all fall trapped in, and then you just bring them all on board your boat. I have trouble with this because I wonder what of the congregation's vision. How do we temper these both with the Wesleyan understanding of "Experience" where something is validated through shared experience (and Scripture, Tradition and Reason, of course)?

But, I think I understand better my own process of vision casting. I do not employ the net method, where the next fisherman/pastor will come along and cast their own net hoping to catch more fish in the vision, each time forsaking the vision casting done by the previous pastor. Instead I employ a simple fly fishing line, like many of the fishermen and women of the Owens Valley do. I pick the right fly - to the best of my knowledge and the accumulated knowledge of so many other fishers. I pick the right water, checking for fish (this is somewhat affected by where the Bishop appoints me). I fish for uncaught fish - I am not trying to pull fish out of another fisherman's creel, or off the line they have already cast. In fact, I do not want to cross my line with their line, but I do want to learn from their experiences. I cast my fly in the air before landing it on the water - also known as floating an idea. I seek to catch one fish at a time, for the best results - whether those results be for the art of fishing (catch and release), consuming (utilizing their talents for the benefit of existing fish); or for hatchery (making new disciples).

In essence, my vision is developed one fish at a time. I want each fish to benefit the larger good to the greatest possible end, and I don't do well catching large numbers of fish, because I do not have the additional fishermen with me necessary for such a catch. But, in the process of fishing I am also trying to develop some new fishermen and women. The hope is that maybe someday we will be ready for the big net, and we can cast it together and bring in the overly large haul.

But, this type of fishing means that regular changes have to be made - to the location, to the drying time of the fly, to the type of fly used, and for reeling in each fish caught, let alone the time necessary for teaching new fisherwomen.

At this moment I am actually fishing not so much for the fish, but for new fishermen and women to help cast the net, taking time every once in a while to fish for the individual fish, hoping that my new students will be better able to cast their own lines, and ultimately we can gather enough other fisherwomen and men together to cast a real net (read "vision")




At October 15, 2007, Blogger wtc921 said...

I like your analogy. Thank you for this article.

William T Chaney Jr

At November 26, 2007, Anonymous Terry Van Hook said...

Hi David,
I ran across your blog as I was renewing my own. I've been on hiatus as I've moved to a new church.

Just a word re: you struggle with vision casting.

I liked your words struggling with the whole process. It's a very complex and often confusing situation.

To me the Vision process is just one step in the Mission / Vision / Core Values / Basic Beliefs framework that comprises the 'DNA' of a church.

The Vision Statement may be explored by and with the pastor, but I think it really has to grow out of the congregation as a vision of where we all see ourselves in the near future.

Therefore the Vision is not so much "cast" (as in a net), but "cast" (as in a candle.)

We can help make the form, but it's the lives of the whole congregation that need to be poured into the form and so reshaped for burning.

Then, with the Mission Statement as the short, "audacious - t shirt" kind of statement, the Vision Statement becomes the statement that calls us into what God wants of us.

The Core Values then become the guidelines of how we get there, and the Basic Beliefs the foundation stones we build on.

(Maybe there's too many metaphors here.... ?? ;-)

All of it becomes the DNA that the church participants refer to frequently to keep their bearings. (And of course review it all every few years.)

What do you think?

Terry Van Hook

p.s. Orangethorpe UMC recently finished it's DNA mapping effort with a mission statement of:

"Making a Difference Through Christ"

and a Vision Statement of:

"We are a Christ-centered, welcoming community.

As grace-filled disciples,
we prayerfully and creatively
encourage each other
with healing and hope,

to share the transforming love of Christ."


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