Proverbs 29:18 states that where there is no vision the people perish…
Vision is the revelation, the announcement, of God’s will to God’s people. According to Proverbs if there is no vision than people are confused, there is no direction, this of course leads to chaos.
We trust that God will provide us vision. God gives us vision for our lives so that we might know and do God’s will.
God also provide vision for God’s church. By faith we believe that God will provide vision for our church and for our congregation.
Vision comes from God. God is the source of our shared vision for this church. God is the one who is providing our vision for mission and for ministry. We simply need faith to believe in God’s vision.
Over the years I have learned a couple of things about having vision for ministry. The first is that vision does not need to come from only the pastor. It is not as if all our vision for ministry comes only from me.
Vision is something that we discern together. Vision is something that we work on together. You might have an idea. But you also might have an idea and you might have an idea as well.
God reveals different things to different people and so that is why all of our voices are important. You might hold the key to furthering God’s work here and now. And so we all need to listen to each other.
That is why committees and having meetings is so important. In our church we have some really strong and faithful committees. The people on our committees work together.
They listen to each other and most importantly we listen to God. That is why we open and close in prayer our meetings in prayer in order for us to remember that vision for ministry comes from God.
Another thing that is so important when it comes to sharing the vision is to listen to each other’s faith stories or testimonies. We each have a faith story that connects us to God’s larger story of grace, love, and forgiveness.
We each have a unique story to tell and to share.
It is important that we become comfortable talking about faith.
It is important to find the courage to speak about our faith and to not be afraid to talk about God. When we do so then we begin to pass the vision around.
Each of us carries a piece of that vision. Each piece makes the church the church. When we share in the vision with each person adding their piece than our church becomes stronger, healthier, and we then have a greater sense of direction and purpose for ministry.
It is just like a thousand piece puzzle.
Each piece is needed in order to create a beautiful picture. If you have ever done a puzzle and in the end you discover that a piece is missing than it takes away from the beauty of the picture.
Something doesn’t feel right if one piece is missing in a puzzle. It is the same way in a church community. All of our pieces are needed for vision.
Secondly, we need to trust that God will provide vision if we come to God in prayer and in faith.
When I first started out as a pastor out in Iowa one of the things that I did over and over was to pray that God would provide vision for my work as a pastor and that God would provide vision for the church that I was serving.
And what happened. God provided. God gave vision. God gave direction.
Then we need to take action when the vision comes. In the book of James chapter one we hear: Do not merely listen to the word but actually go and do what is says.
And Jesus says in the Gospel of Matthew chapter seven: Everyone who hears my words and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.
Jesus taught that his teachings need to not only be heard but acted upon. That is the heart of being a disciple doing what Jesus taught.
This might be the more challenging part of having vision. What God reveals to us, God also has the faith in us that we will respond and carry out the vision that God has provided.
And so as we work together, as we pray together, as we listen to God’s voice, may we also be empowered by the Holy Spirit to make God’s vision a reality for our congregation.
I have been serving here as pastor for about a year and a half. During that time three things have come to me as a vision while being in prayer and in listening to you all.
The first concerns how we might continue ministering to each other. Last month we sang Happy Birthday and had a cake after worship for one of our members who just turned ninety.
One person after church came up to me and said in response to what our congregation just did for this person, “You know Pastor, this is the church being the church.” I just really liked that vision that that person casted right there in that moment.
This is the church being the church. How can we continue being the church, serving one another, reaching out to one another, praying for each other?
As a small church we are uniquely positioned to reach out to each other in ways that larger congregation are not able to do. How might we build upon our ability to minister to each other?
Secondly, how can we continue being a community church? Right now it is a trendy thing to name your church. Something Community Church.
That is all good I suppose but what does it really mean to be a community church? What is better is to actually be a community church.
We do not have the word community in our church name but we still believe in being a community church.
We already participate in community outreach ministries like CROP Walk and Christmas caroling and high-way pickup. How might we continue to grow our outreach ministries?
Well, one thing that the education committee has already been considering is resurrecting our Vacation Bible School ministry. Did you know that last year we had thirteen Sunday school teachers participate in our Sunday morning Sunday school ministry.
I have never been at a church with so many faithful and dedicated Sunday school teachers.
Do you know the Bible verse the harvest is plentiful but the labors are few? Well, not here when it comes to our Sunday school teachers.
The labor’s are plentiful. Now how can we do children’s ministry together in our congregation when coming with such strength in that particular area?
Do you see what I mean?
God has given this church wonderful teachers now we need to see how we might find some children to teach. Maybe it starts with our VBS.
I don’t want to scare the finance committee here but maybe we should spend a thousand dollars and spread the word throughout the whole community about our VBS program through announcements in Newspapers, Facebook ads, and mass mailings.
Letting everyone know that we have a great VBS ministry at Williams Bay Lutheran. OK, you get the point!
Lastly, I have been thinking about how we might grow more deeply in our faith.
One idea that I have for the coming year is to have us dig more deeply into the Gospel of Mark. Every year we have a new gospel that we read in Sunday worship.
This year it is the gospel of Mark. Next year it will be Luke and in two years it will be Matthew.
Then we will start over again with Mark. Every year we hear readings from the Gospel of John.
Again this year the majority of our readings are from Mark with the exception of hearing readings from John scattered throughout the year. So what if we were to really dig into that gospel?
Did you know that the Gospel of Mark is the shortest gospel of the four gospels? It can be read in at time in an hour or two.
If you have never read through this gospel please take an hour or so and read through the whole book like you would a novel.
This gospel is best read straight through. Then after you do that on Sunday mornings you will be aware of the context of the selected readings from Mark.
Also, after our discussion on faith sharing on Sunday mornings I would like to start a Bible study on Mark.
If you are interested I would love for you to join me in hearing God’s words through this gospel during the Sunday morning class.
In conclusion, I would like to repeat that Bible verse from Proverbs: the people perish when there is no vision.
Now if there is vision than God’s people flourish. God’s people live into the promise of shalom of well-being, of peace, of health when God provides vision, purpose, and direction and that vision is lived out in the community.
May God bless the coming year with vision. May God richly bless this congregation as we join God in mission and in ministry. Amen.