By Mike Hasey
Last October, when we held our first meeting for the vision pathway team, I was a little uncertain what I was getting involved in. However, as we have been on this journey together, I have seen God at work. That has been both a privilege and an opportunity for growth for me.
What are we about as a church? Where should we spend our time and resources? We could put all our energy into overseas missions. We could focus on needs in our community… or focus on students that come from all over to world to Ann Arbor. We could focus on street evangelism, or start a Christian school, or we could be a multi-site church to further our reach.
We could, well, the possibilities are almost endless. Unfortunately, with endless possibilities comes a paralyzing amount of choices, and if we tried to do them all, then likely we would do none of them well.
Enter Auxano, and our Vision Navigator, Jeff. The basic process, as outlined by Jeff, was pretty straightforward: determine what makes you unique as a church and use that to frame in your vision. Imagine a picture. The frame helps to sort out what is part of the picture, and what is just background noise.
The Vision Frame (as Jeff calls it) is made up of 4 sides: Mission, Values, Strategy, and Measures. Determining what those look like for St Luke has been what we have been about for the last 8 months. When finished, we can use these to help us decide what is (and more importantly what isn’t) a part of our vision.
Before I continue, a quick aside. Interesting word, “navigator.” Specifically it is not “consultant.” It has been clear throughout this process that Jeff is not setting out to tell us what do it. He was not coming in to tell us what we should look like. Instead he has been guiding us through the process and allowing us to figure out who we are and what we should be about. Jeff has been a blessing and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with him.
On to Mission. Mission is what we do on a day to day basis, whether staff or members. We spent some time working on this, and really it all just sort of fell into place.
I don’t even think our final version was even on the radar of our narrowed down list, and suddenly, it was there, and it felt right. “Seeking everyone’s story … Sharing in HIS story.”
I have been living with that and wrestling with that ever since. What does it really mean to seek everyone’s story? That means I have to get out and really talk to people. I noticed that I have a tendency to use “How are you doing?” almost as a greeting. I don’t really mean it. I don’t not mean it either–it’s just that I would be surprised if they said anything other than “Fine.”
Fine: the universal way to tell someone absolutely nothing about yourself. There are people at church about whom all I know is that they are “fine,” but what if I were seeking their story? Really seeking?
If I were “seeking everyone’s story,” I would be interested in finding out about others, both long time members and first time guests. I can no longer be fine with “Fine.”
Our Mission Statement is about relationship with others. It is also about our relationship with Jesus, “sharing in His story.” The “in” was really important to us. It is not us sharing the story of Jesus with others (which we should do), but what made this feel right was that the focus was on what Jesus was already doing. Jesus has gone before us, and we are merely participants in His story. So I wonder, how can I best share in HIS story. It has become clear to me over the past months that I can’t do this alone. I depend on him.
What does it really mean to seek everyone’s story?
Which leads us to Values. Values are those things we hold near and dear to our hearts. They describe what someone would experience when coming to St Luke. They are not my values or your values though. They are our values.
For as easy as the mission statement was, the values were hard. Am I allowed to say that I hate values? I think I might. Meeting after meeting we spent on this. Also pre and post meetings. “We need to have a meeting before our next meeting to really nail these down…”
And yet, we would come out of each of these meetings feeling like we didn’t really have it. Very frustrating. Very, very frustrating.
I am happy to report that I think we have finally settled on something as a group. Something that feels right. Openness, Faithfulness, Connection, and Dependence. There is more behind each of these words and I could talk about each of them for awhile. (For anyone on the team, we have been talking about these for what seems like an eternity.) I just want to say a quick word about dependence.
Zechariah writes: “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,” says the LORD Almighty. This is so true. God is great. I am … well, I am not so great. I cannot really do much of anything apart from what God has done and is doing to and through me. I need to rely and trust in him, each and every day. Both in grand vision processes, and my daily routine. I am not great … but I am loved. The team ended with dependence, and ultimately, I think dependence on Jesus is exactly right.
Openness, Faithfulness, Connection, and Dependence.
I could go on to the strategy and measures, but I won’t. Not at this time. I expect that a lot of this will be unveiled at the Wet Cement Session. Speaking of wet cement… please come to the Wet Cement Session on Sunday, May 21, right after 10:15 worship. Eat a box lunch; talk with some friends. We really want your input and feedback. We desperately do not want this to be about our individual ideas.
As a Vision Pathway Team, we are representing you, and May 21 is a great opportunity for us to hear from you. Maybe Openness isn’t quite the right way to express our values. Maybe we are missing something important. Maybe we are on the right track. Either way, come and let us know.
Finally, please pray for us. We have “basically” completed the frame and are about to embark on determining what is inside. That is really exciting. Please pray for wisdom and guidance for us, and that we may seek Jesus and seek to share in HIS story always.
Join us on Sunday, May 21 from 11:30 to 1 as we continue our Vision Process with our Wet Cement II event.