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It is the beginning of a new year; a time for a look back as well as forward. A time for assessing one’s life and a dedication to make it better.

And, apparently, a time for casting a vision.

If that last sentence surprises you a little, it’s because that is not how you and I speak of ourselves. If you want to cut back on sugar and carbs and exercise more to lose weight, do you cast a vision to do so?

No. This is how corporations speak of themselves.

And churches, apparently.

If you attend a church, it is possible that this is the time of year when your leadership “casts a vision” or lays out your church’s “vision” for the year ahead. Perhaps we should ask this question: What does Scripture say about “vision casting”? There is no such practice by believers in the New Testament, unless we view the host of commands in Scripture as Jesus and the apostles “casting vision.” So, am I to cast a vision to love God and others more? Worthy “vision,” to be sure. However, what, exactly, are the visionary steps I should take to love God and others more? It seems to be there are only four steps I need to cast such a vision: Try to love God and neighbor more. Ask God for help to do so. Repent when I fail. Get up and try again.

But then I could not write a book about vision casting.

It would be a rather short book.

However, it seems some of our churches think the air they breathe is different than ours. Their sheep, they think, need to have a vision cast at, to, or before them so they can, um, be obedient? Believe Scripture? But here’s what’s really going on here. The subterranean meme behind this is: A leader is not a successful leader if he doesn’t cast a vision for his church.

Dr. Richard J. Krejcir wrote over a decade ago:

One of the top 10 healthy and influential churches in the world, that sends more missionaries (over 200, not including short term and part timers) than most denominations, has this simple Vision: “We are followers of Jesus Christ, ministers together, empowered by the Holy Spirit and guided by God’s Word.” And their value statement is, “We are committed to honoring God through worship and personal lifestyle, caring for one another, equipping one another for ministry and communicating God’s love to the world.” This church (Lake Avenue Church, Pasadena, Ca) has over 6,000 members and 35 pastors following this simple decree! 1

Now we have come to the crux of the matter. It is about your church becoming successful.

So, we should ask a question in the middle of our success-driven culture which exerts so much influence over us: Was Jesus successful?

“Yes, of course!” every believer will proclaim.

At what did He succeed? How did He achieve that success?

What was His “vision”? He tells us.

“Now is my soul troubled. And what shall I say? ‘Father, save me from this hour’? But for this purpose I have come to this hour” (John 12:27). 2

What “hour” was this? What purpose was this? What was His vision?

To die, to be punished for our sin.

And to be resurrected, conquering death, sin, hell, and the grave.

Jesus commands us to follow Him in a caravan of death:

“Then Jesus told his disciples, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me’” (Matthew 16:24).

“And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:38).

Those who heard Jesus say these things had no allusions about their meaning. They saw crosses with bodies hanging on them all the time.

Will such a “vision” make your church “successful”? Jesus’ vision for your church is not that it becomes “successful.”

It is that believers in your church are willing to literally die, if necessary, to follow their Savior.

Take that vision and cast it. See what happens.

 

1http://www.churchleadership.org/apps/articles/default.asp?articleid=41940

2All Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Gif courtesy giphy.com.

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