When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be a pro footballer. I didn’t quite make it, hence why I’m sat here typing this blog. When we were younger, we had a picture of what we wanted to be and who we wanted to become. We had a ‘vision’.
Andy Stanley, of North Point Community Church, describes vision as a ‘clear mental picture of what could be’. It’s true for when we were children, but also true for our lives today. How we see even the next few days unfolding depends on a vision for our working week, and making plans to make sure it happens. Our lives, relationships, careers, finances, all require vision in order for them to become what we want and need them to become. Very few people end up somewhere on purpose; often where we end up in life is often more to do with circumstances as opposed to having a clear picture of where we see it heading and making the necessary choices to get there.
God’s intention for the church is that she is a glorious bride, with a clear vision of where she is heading. Our ultimate destiny is the ‘white hot worship of Jesus’ (John Piper) in heaven, but until then, he calls us to be the church that will best impact our towns and communities with the good news of Jesus and make sure as many people as possible are there! I don’t want to belong to a local church that accidentally gets on with the work of God, and then ends up who-knows-where. Proverbs says that ‘without vision, people perish!’ (Proverbs 29:18). We don’t need to perish. God wants us to have a vision; to be a church that is intentional about its vision and mission.
Proverbs says that ‘without vision, people perish!’ (Proverbs 29:18). We don’t need to perish. God wants us to have a vision; to be a church that is intentional about its vision and mission.
So over the next few weeks, we will be talking about vision and painting a clear mental picture of where we are heading. The intricacies of how that is worked out will take days, weeks, months and even years to fully implement. But without a vision, we’ll never even get started.
Before we look at our vision as a church, it’s important to recognise a few things first. It is always about Jesus. And it always will be. Through Jesus we can have a relationship with God, by the power of the Holy Spirit. We love the Bible, the inspired word of God. We will never move away from those basic Christian beliefs of salvation by grace, through faith in Christ alone. We are on God’s team! (our statement of faith can be found here).
Secondly, it’s important that we are clear as to where we are at today. We can’t get a clear picture of where we are going if we don’t know where we are currently at.
As a church we have amazing resource, chief amongst them being the people! Our building is brilliant, we have land and room for growth. We have some amazing ministries that are impacting hundreds of people’s lives. But there’s more for us.
Today, we thank God that the Foundry Church has an average attendance of 220 people. But we are situated in a town of nearly 65,000 people (in Halton there are 126,500), in the 27th most deprived local authority in Great Britain, with approximately 7,000 children classed as living in poverty, unemployment at all levels higher than the national average. In the 2001 census, more people than ever stated that they had ‘no religion’, a trend seen nationally (stat’s obtained from the ONS website and correct in 2017). There’s a way to go to see Widnes people engaged with Jesus and His Church.
But we can start with a vision. In the book of Nehemiah, we meet a man who saw broken down walls in Jerusalem. His vision was to rebuild them, and he cast a vision with a clear, unambiguous vision statement: ‘Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace’ (Nehemiah 2:17).
Nehemiah cast a very clear mental picture of what was needed; walls to be rebuilt and the removal of disgrace. His vision statement was short, to the point and very clear; if you weren’t into rebuilding walls, you didn’t work for Nehemiah!
As we move forward as a church, we have adopted a short, clear vision statement to carry us through this next season. It goes like this:
Our vision is to follow Jesus and love broken people back to life.
For us, our vision is short and to the point; most people can remember it after a few attempts. Go on, have a go! We think it’s clear; we are about following Jesus, no one else, and following Jesus is another term for ‘discipleship’ i.e. becoming more and more like Jesus. The greatest need of the church today is to become more like Him every day; if we get that alone, the world would begin to look very different.
And loving broken people; every-one of us has some brokenness. In our church, there’s broken people everywhere; from the stage to the car park team, there are stories of people who have seen Jesus turn their mess into a message of hope and freedom. Our heart is that every broken person we come into contact with is given the opportunity to be loved back to life; not lectured or pressured; but simply loved with the love of Jesus.
So that’s our vision statement in a nutshell. The challenge now is to put some hands and feet on it. Will you be part of that? We hope so.