People always ask new pastors: “What is your vision for the church?” This question makes me somewhat uncomfortable, because vision takes time—and it is most effective when it is a shared vision, not the vision of one individual. I read this story in Bearing Fruit, a new book I am reading by Lovett Weems, one of my professors when I studied for my doctorate, and Tom Berlin:
One of the myths of American industry is that Henry Ford invented the assembly line, which then permitted him to build a car that could be sold for $500, an amount that large numbers of people could afford. The reality is just the reverse. Ford determined that $500 was the most that large numbers of people could pay for a car, and inventing the assembly line was the only way he could devise to accomplish that task. He determined that the task was not just to build a car but to build a car in such a way so that it could be sold for $500; only then did he unlock the manufacturing plan required to accomplish such a goal (Weems and Berlin, xv).
Last Sunday our leadership team, the Church Council, met to discuss new ideas for the Oak Lawn Church. I jumped in quickly to say we needed to establish a vision for OLUMC first—the $500 car—before we shared ideas for new ministries (ways to achieve the vision)—the assembly line.
If you look in the newsletter, you’ll see our vision is to “Make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” That’s great stuff, but it is the denomination’s vision, not the vision of our local church. We already know what values our church has. We are very proud to be a part of our community engaged in hands-on ministry alongside our neighbors. We are also a very diverse congregation where everyone is valued and respected as a child of God. Over the next month or so, leading to our Celebration Sunday September 25, we’ll be having lots of conversations with everyone about OLUMC’s vision for the present and future: next year, five years, ten years. I hope you and everyone will be a part of this important process. More information will come later. At a minimum please be in prayer for this exciting time for Oak Lawn. As a way of beginning the conversation, think about your answers to these questions:
- · What do you love most about Oak Lawn?
- · Why does our church exist?
- · What do we hope to become?
Let’s build the greatest $500 car—a vision for our unique community of faith—and let’s do it together!