On Sunday, January 17, Tom Bandy, our consultant discussed Vision and Mission Impact and its role in the life of the church. Below is the video of his video, and further below is the script for this video.
Video 5 – Vision and Mission Impact
Strategic Thinking for the Next 7 years
My name is Tom Bandy, and I am consulting with leaders of the Presbyterian Church of Hamilton in strategic planning. I encourage your prayers and reflections as the church thinks strategically about the future.
Last fall, I shared with you two questions for prayer and reflection:
- Why do you come to worship?
- What gives you hope for the future?
- Today I ask a third question as we begin a challenging new year. How can we make a difference?
The convergence of crises involving COVID-19, racial tension, and economic uncertainty have sharpened our awareness of what has been going on for years. We live at a time of big cultural changes and social challenges … and at a time when the church has diminishing resources and declining influence.
If you watch western movies and recall old television shows, you may recall the scenes of circled wagon trains and besieged settlers, running out of ammunition. The hero shouts what everybody is already thinking: Make every shot count!
Churches are in similar circumstances. They cannot afford to preserve useless things, pursue hidden agendas, or sidetrack volunteers. If the church is to make a difference, and impact the community and world for Christ, then it must make every ministry, every program, and every job description and committee mandate count.
Jesus – the great Peacemaker – made the same point in a different way. Take up your cross and follow me. Let nothing delay you, sidetrack you, or stand in your way. St. Paul – the great missionary – said it another way. Forgetting what lies behind, and straining for what lies ahead, let us press on for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
Christian leaders today are asking the same question again: With your first breath in the morning, and your last penny at night, will it be “me first” or God’s mission?
During the consultation process we have researched the community, assessed congregation programs and priorities, and now are looking to God for a vision of our future. The Bible teaches us three things about spiritual visions in contrast to secular visions.
First, vision emerges from trust, not brainstorming.
First there is covenant, then there is vision. First there is unity. First there is accountability. Secular visions may emerge from gurus, pop stars, and corporate lone rangers, but spiritual visions are given to people of faith who share a covenant of trust with God and each other.
Second, vision is about blessing people, not using people.
First there is yearning, then there is vision. First there is compassion for strangers to grace, then there is vision. Secular visions may be for personal profit or institutional survival, but spiritual visions lead to personal sacrifice and missional risk.
Third, vision reveals purpose. It does not define tactics.
First there is promise, then there is vision. First there is hope, then there is vision. Secular visions may be for political or corporate success, but spiritual visions are about personal and social transformation. It’s about where we are going, not how we get there.
What happened when Moses led the people out of Egypt? It started with trust, and aimed for liberation, and the people were led into the desert by Miriam dancing and singing before the Lord. What happened when Jesus proclaimed the New Covenant? It started with repentance, and aimed at salvation, and Mary sang the “Magnificat”.
Vision is a straight line drawn between three points. It is like an arrow, fired straight at a target, but not just hitting it but also passing through it to another target, and then another target, and another after that. And the public rejoices in its passing. Vision is a straight line from heartbeat to heartburst to heartsong.
God fires the arrow from a community in which all hearts beat as one to the same rhythm of Christian values, bedrock beliefs, and spiritual discipline. It flies to hit the target of the group of people for whom your heart bursts with love. And once it has blessed that group of people, it continues to bless another group of people, and another, and another until the whole city of Hamilton looks up and takes heart at the sound of its passing.
Vision is a straight line from Heartbeat to heartburst to heartsong.
Arrows are heard before they are seen. This is why visions are best expressed in a song rather than a statement or logo. A vision is like a university fight song, or a protest march, or a national anthem. It may be an old song or a new song. Some years ago, I worked with a Presbyterian Church in Las Vegas with a great music program, and they composed their own song. The song is sung in every worship service, and in every meeting and gathering. It is that song that church members discover they have been singing to themselves without even realizing it. And whenever it is sung hearts pound, eyes tear up, and faces brighten.
Our vision is a straight line from heartbeat, to heartburst, to heartsong. Every leader, program, and budget line should follow that line. Nothing should distract us from that path … even if that path takes us out of our comfort zones. No sacred cow should stand in the way of God’s vision.
Our vision, among the covenant people of the Presbyterian Church of Hamilton, is to be the heart of Christ in the heart of the city. We see it on paper. We see it on the website. But do we sing it in our hearts? Does it motivate everything we say and do? Do we stay on course and never deviate from that path? Does it fill us with joy and make a difference in our neighborhoods?
With your first breath in the morning, and your last conscious thought at night, what will be running through your mind in the year 2021? Will it be “me first” or “God’s mission”?