Sunday, March 01, 2009

Pastor's Corner March 2009

The Emerging Vision

The Visioning process of Ojai United Methodist Church is well underway. We have had a number of great meetings, and opportunities to share. Now comes the part where I get to share them back with you, and you with one another. From them, we will find a common Vision.

First: What is a Vision?
A vision is a desired future reality, a hoped for result, that captures the heart and mind in such a compelling way that people are willing to commit their resources of time, talent, and treasure to make it a reality.
As such, it is a "To be" statement.

We have claimed a number of Visions in our cluster gatherings.
"To be a ministry to the elderly"
"To be open to younger families"
"To be a church that serves."
"To be a church that disciples Christians"
"To be a church that acknowledges the other"
"To be in community with one another"
"To be a survival aid for today"
"To be welcoming and gathering of youth"
"To be a resource"
"To be Christian examples"
"To be encouraging & invitational"
"To be a church that takes the church to the world"
"To be a church who survives"
"To be inviting community"
"To be joyous"
"To be equipping our people for ministry to the Ojai Valley"
"To be healers"
"To be just, merciful, and walking with God"
"To be evolving in meeting needs."
"To be recognized and appreciated"
"To be filling others with meaning and happiness"
"To be a church that brings people closer to God"
"To be in fellowship"
"To be building respect for one another"
"To be a diverse faith experience"
"To be a challenge to improve on self"
"To be so welcoming as to experience the love we have for one another to stay"
"To be every member a minister"
"To be visiting the sick and in prison"
"To be caring ans supportive of each other"
"To be connecting God's people"
"To be providing safety and security"
"To be the beloved community"

Now I want to challenge you. These statements are great, but only a few of them actually ask us to stretch, and are something we are not already. This is key to a Vision statement. If we are going "To be", then it is something we are not already. Talk them through with one another. Find the ones that resonate with you. Share them with each other, and with me. Find the common ground, and begin to lift out the core of the thoughts to find that deep connection with who God wants us to be at Ojai United Methodist Church.

To try and help with some perspective Ojai UMC has had two other Visions I have recognized during their 50 years. The two Visions they had were lived, but because they were not articulated often and well they died out. My hope is that we will not let this new Vision die out. We will need to articulate it well, and often. We will need to filter all of our activities, and the needs of the community through it. And when the time comes that we have almost achieved it, we will need to create a new Vision.

And, for the record, the two Visions Ojai UMC has had during its lifetime:
(1957-1962: Start-up) To be a Methodist Church in Ojai.
(1971-1973: After the arson that destroyed the sanctuary, and during the pairing of Ojai UMC and HELP of Ojai) To be a church that rebuilds [which meant lives, communities, and our physical plant]

I want to recognize too the other Vision that a small cadre of people at Ojai UMC had as a Vision. It was implemented successfully, but was never taken up by the whole church, and therefore has left it still standing slightly off to the edge. That Vision was "To be expanding the Preschool" (circa 1988-1990)

I will be reflecting on these in the sermons in March. We will begin to lift a common Vision for Ojai UMC, and we will move to claim a Vision at the end of the month. From there we will begin the "boots on the ground". We will reflect our current church and community through the Vision. This will begin with our Mission Statement, To make Disciples of Jesus Christ in Faith, Fellowship, Tolerance, and Spiritual Growth”. Then we will look at the programs we already run, the finances we spend, and the needs of the community, to find those places of intersection - where our greatest gifts and the world's greatest needs come together with our Vision. That will dictate the programs we need to concentrate on, and the ways in which we can make the best impact on our community for Jesus Christ.




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