Friday, January 23, 2009

What a Vision is...

As I continue to think about the Visioning process of Ojai UMC I am reminded to look at what a Vision is, and what it is not.

Part of the frustration of so many people in trying to build a vision for the local church or another organization is the head-banging and infighting that comes with trying to develop Vision with program in mind.

Real Vision needs to escape the trap of trying to program the way through and develop a "To Be" statement that can then incorporate the "program" or "how to" of proceeding.

For instance, when asked about what a Vision for the church might be, I have gotten responses like: "Well, we could have a praise service to attract the people to church". This is a programmatic response, and does not actually entail a Vision. The vision to be pulled from this type of statement is that we want to be a lively church, filled with people.

Then we have to take the Vision statement, and check it against what our gifts and graces are as a church, and what the needs of the community are. If we want to be something that the community does not need, or that we cannot create from the gifts we have, then it is not the right Vision for the church.

Once the Vision has been clarified, then the programs suggested can be filtered back through the Vision to see if this is what we need to be doing. Such an instance would be that we claim: "We are a church for all peoples." Using this Vision statement we would then filter programs through it. If we are going to say that we are going to let the Black Republicans meet here as part of our Vision, then it would qualify. If we then proceed to turn any group away from the building for use then we have already betrayed our Vision, and clarified the reality that our Vision is too broad.

We have an opportunity to use each of these clarifying comments and programs to develop a better sense of what we can be to and with the community of Ojai. With clarity of purpose comes an enthusiasm for the work at hand. With enthusiasm comes pride, and doing a good job. With a good job comes the respect and shared purpose of the entire community, and it is through such things that a church can grow.



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