Jeff Mickey, Doug Tensen, Brian Steenhoek
Fewer than 1 in 10 senior pastors are able to articulate what they believe is God's vision for their church. We shared this statistic with more than 160 leaders, who joined us for our annual January leadership huddle on Saturday, January 20. This statistic comes from Will Mancini, the author of Church Unique, who suggests that if church attendance in America is in decline and if the influence of the church in America is fading, "the most important problem is the lack of a clear, heart-grabbing vision."
Solomon writes in Proverbs 29:18 (NIV), "Where there is no revelation, people cast off restraint; but blessed is the one who heeds wisdom's instruction." The King James version is more familiar to many of us - "Where there is no vision, the people perish." Whatever else Solomon is trying to express in this passage, it seems that VISION is really, really important. And, it seems that vision comes from God's word. When people don't engage with God's word and practice his wise instruction, chaos ensues and sometimes even leads to death. As a growing church, on 3 campuses, we must be clear on our unifying vision grounded in God's word if we are going to avoid chaos and stick together on the mission God has given us.
Leadership huddles are mission critical to help us share and continue to develop this unifying vision. Our mission points us in the right direction, like a compass. Vision is like a Polaroid picture of the destination we're heading to. It's dynamic and reveals itself in fresh pictures as you journey on your mission. Sharing stories of God at work in the lives of those on mission with Orchard, and those being impacted by that mission, is one way we share these pictures.
We began the year at The Gathering with a vision of us being like the giant bucket at the swimming pool as it fills up with water and starts to tip over, it spills onto all who get under it. We want to help people encounter the splash of God's love through life with Jesus and join in the journey of following Him to become like the bucket that remains under the flow of God's love, until we are so filled with His love it pours out of our lives. What's cool, is that this is both the vision of the destination God wants to bring us to AND it also forms a virtuous cycle with our mission. As people begin pouring out God's love, they can't help but fulfill the mission of helping next generations encounter and follow Jesus to bless a broken world.
Along the way, there are many expressions of how this transpires. A high school student involved at Big House recently encountered Jesus and it transformed him in incredible ways. After hearing a message one Wednesday night, he took his encouragement back to his school, decorating his locker, he placed several designed notecards in a cardholder and invited people to take one if they would like to know more about God, His grace, love and good news for them. Within one week, all 40 notecards were taken. He is now working to distribute 100 more of these cards to the students in his school. This an incredible Polaroid of our vision being reached. Here's another expression of vision realized: a young woman is invited to come to our Christmas Eve services. She is not a regular church attender anywhere and faith has not been a part of her life. After encountering Jesus through this service, she not only returns the following week, but she invites her friend who also is not a regular church goer.
We thank God and all of you who are helping to provide these amazing Polaroids. We love seeing them and hearing how our mission is being accomplished by God through you. We also know that there are many more expressions of vision yet to be revealed. Curt Patterson, one of Orchard's core leaders and a former leadership board member, reminded us of one of the reasons Orchard is staying effective and relevant is because the board, staff, and ministry leaders continue to listen to people and pay attention to their spiritual gifts, strengths and passions to discover fresh views of vision and new ways God wants to lead us to accomplish the mission. Throughout the years, there have been many fresh pictures and many question marks about what God might do next. At one time starting a campus in Grundy Center was a question mark, as was building a Grundy County worship center and starting a campus in Waverly. These are now realized visions. What's next? There are currently some question marks being thought about and discussed. We are excited to discover these with you.
"Where there is no vision, people perish. But blessed is the one who heeds wisdom's instruction." We encourage you to keep reading the Bible, engaging with God's word and allowing it to stir the passions in your heart as you live it out with others in your family, with your friends, co-workers, neighbors, and Orchard Hill Church family. And don't forget to share your Polaroids along the way!