The "We" We Want To Be
By John Ortberg, article from “Leadership” (christianitytoday.com)
…Assessment of spiritual health is one at a congregational level. It’s a good thing to discuss the spiritual formation of individuals. What is badly needed alongside of that is a thoughtful, concrete way of discerning and addressing the spiritual formation of congregations. We are not just a collection of bobble-headed saints. P1
The presence of the Spirit is best detected by the fruit of the Spirit…With vitality comes the willingness to try to walk, even if it means falling. How strong is the impulse for new ventures in our church? How willing are people to take ministry risks? To trust? To forgive? Do we celebrate first steps and fall-downs and getting back up as ardently as parents who are delighted to see their little rug-rats go upright? P3
On Vision and Mission (as quoted by Dallas Willard in Ortberg article)
Vision is fundamental to the health of your church…
(W) It all begins with a vision…But it is not a vision of what they’re going to do. It is not a vision of a preferred future. It is not a vision of human activity. It is a vision of what already is. It is a vision of God, and how good he is, and how wonderful it is to be alive and a friend of such a Being.
Out of this vision flows a desire to do good things for such a God. And sometimes these activities may lead to results that look quite remarkable or impressive. And then other people may gather, and some decide they’d like to be involved in such activities because it might give them a sense of significance. People begin to pay more attention to what they are doing than to the reality of God.
At this point the mission replaces the vision as the dominant feature in peoples’ consciousness. Once this happens, descent is inevitable. For now people are living under the tyranny of Producing Impressive Results.
The number one “vision problem” with churches today is not (as widely held) leaders who “lack a vision”. The real problem is when our primary focus shifts from who God is (a vision that alone can lead to “the peace of Christ reigning in our hearts”) to what we are doing.
How do you diagnose the mission-replacing-vision sickness?
People in leadership feel constant pressure and inadequacy.
Goals, numbers, and techniques replace the goodness of God as the most frequent topics of thought and conversation. Leaders view themselves as constantly having to motivate and hype and whip up enthusiasm in the church for doing and giving. You will sometimes hear people say “vision leaks”; a more accurate state is that “mission leaks” when it has replaced the vision of God as people’s dominant inner reality. People’s sense of esteem or excitement depends on “how church is going”. A church’s identity gets rooted in its success.
This drift from vision to mission is inevitable, though not irresistible. The only cure is to diagnose it, and to rediscover the beauty of the vision of God. Of course, that begins with the leadership. The vision of God is not a tool leaders can use to get the church to function better. It is freedom from the need to perform for the whole church—beginning with the leaders. P3-4
“Leadership” interview with Francis Chan (christianitytoday.com)
Q: What role did your elders play [in helping the church to discover the Holy Spirit]?
Chan: It started when a few of our leaders began studying the role of the elders in the Scriptures. They said, “You know, our elder meetings are more like business meetings. We discuss how much we should pay to repave the parking lot. But in the Bible the role of elders has much more to do with shepherding, teaching, and prayer.” So we made a shift. We had the staff do more of the business work, and the elders started studying the Scriptures to see where the Lord wanted to lead the church spiritually. P2
Chan: …That’s another thing we’ve been convicted about. We realized that a church our size should have 50 or 60 elders, and we are in the process of training a bunch more right now.
We had neglected that because we thought it would be impossible to make a decision with 60 people in a room. It’s hard enough with ten. But then we realized we were talking about two different things—shepherding and decision making. We are appointing more elders to shepherd the congregation, but some decision making will be reserved for a smaller team—six or eight of us. P3