Getting Unstuck – A Call to a Shared Vision
Hello Church Family,
King Solomon once wrote, “The toil of a fool wearies him, for he does not know the way to the city” (Ecclesiastes 10:15). A man without direction is a fool who is stuck. In the New Testament, the wise are associated with Christians, and the fools are associated with non-believers. Christians are going to God and His city. In going to God, Christians travel the same ground that everyone else walks on, breathe the same air, drink the same water, pay the same prices for groceries, get the same distresses, and are buried in the same ground, yet with each step, the believer is preserved by God.
However, it is possible to be reminded of the providence of God and yet still be stuck. Even an entire church can be stuck. One visionary, Will Mancini, has claimed the cause for being stuck: “I remind churches all the time that the church in North America is over-programmed and underdiscipled. And in case you are wondering: programs don’t attract people; people attract people.” In other words, many churches feel stuck, yet they run to programs, and not to a vision of disciple-making for the answer. Feeling stuck as a church comes from a lack of a shared vision.
A shared vision gives clarity, inspiration, and conviction. Through much prayer, the key to getting unstuck and remaining unstuck is a shared vision. Much of this has to do with the fact that God is a God of vision. The book of Isaiah is full of pictures of the future that God puts before us. The Minor Prophets, such as Haggai, Nahum, and Micah, are filled with pictures of where God is taking His people. And in the New Testament, we see Jesus giving a vision to the apostles, to Paul, and to the entire church.
There is tremendous power in vision. Consider the powerful illustration of Viktor Frankl, an Austrian psychologist, who survived the Nazi death camps of World War II. During his time in the concentration camps, he was sustained by his vision of reuniting with his wife and lecturing after the war on the psychological lessons learned in captivity. Frankl found that vision was a means of survival. Lack of vision meant death, but the power of true vision meant life. Prisoners who had died “lost all hope for a future and were inevitably the first to die. They died less from lack of food or medicine than from lack of hope, lack of something to live for.”
Think of the power of vision that resulted in hope for the Thessalonians. This led to one of the most incredible statements in the Bible made by the apostle Paul: “For we know brothers and sisters, loved by God, that he has chosen you. …” (1 Thessalonians 1:3-5) Paul essentially is saying that he knows with certainty that the Thessalonians are saved. How could Paul make such a statement without seeing what was in their hearts? The answer is in the next verse: “because our gospel came to you not only in word but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” In other words, the Thessalonians were consumed with a Spirit-given, Word-empowered vision in the gospel that resulted in steadfast hope.
However, the Bible also makes clear that a plan must be set in place to make the vision a reality. It’s been said that vision without execution is a daydream, and execution without vision is a nightmare. Jesus alludes to this in Luke 14:28-30: “For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish it, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’” Jesus’ final words are frightening. He implies here that planning is not only good but will spare someone significant embarrassment, massive stewardship problems, and even life-threatening situations.
So if shared vision is the key to getting unstuck, then it’s fair to say that Northpoint Church needs a vision, and not just a vision, but a plan to go along with it. Although I am not paving the way for our vision, my desire for you is that you would be a part of the process of finding one.
Here is how that might look:
1. Receive a vision from God for the purpose of direction. I am not suggesting by any means that we should all sit around or go out into the desert to wait for God’s audible voice, and to await a vision of chariots of fire. I am suggesting that God gives specific vision, perhaps starting with the glory of God, to a church who prays and prays a lot. God is faithful to answer the prayers of His people.
2. Get focused and motivated by the power of the Holy Spirit. Just as I said before, vision is good but is useless without a practical plan. At Northpoint Church, more than ever, we need all members to serve, give, and minister in the church. This is not to be done by our own ability, but by the grace of God through the power of the Holy Spirit. I invite you to take advantage of the summer: serve the church, serve our leadership, make disciples, plan a Bible study, read a book on prayer, and most of all, be satisfied in Jesus.
3. Aim for unity. The vision that I am proposing is not a personal and individualistic vision, but a shared vision. It is not enough for one person in our congregation to have a vision while the rest do not. As a body of believers, we are called to a shared vision because in Christ, unity matters.
4. Remember the unimportance of practically everything. Ministry without clarity is insanity. Think of the number of things Jesus accomplished in his short life on earth, yet he didn’t heal every person, he didn’t cast out every demon, neither did he teach everywhere. God had given him a vision for His people, and He completed it. While He accomplished His vision, it was also the one that was given to Him. Jesus understood the unimportance of practically everything—that is, everything else other than what the Father gave Him to do. In His case, vision involved laying down His life for His sheep.
Student Ministry Director