Two years after I arrived to my current call, I met the previous Senior Pastor. We laughed a lot. And I listened a lot. He does not live in the same state and since he's only returned once in the over four years since he retired, it was a meaningful meeting.
In conversation together, we noted documents from his tenure about “vision,” sharing how I’ve picked up the language he referenced from John 7:38. “From the believers will flow rivers of living water.” The architecture and interior design components of our facilities incorporate water imagery, and a fountain with the verse at the entrance to the sanctuary reminds people of Christ's vision for his followers.
Vision, mission, values and strategy get tossed around alot in church parlance, seminars, books and resources. There are many, many articles and materials on the subjects. Long range plans, five year vision statements and big, overarching questions can lead pastors and church leaders into quagmires of debate and philosophical dead ends.
In the end, I like what Pastor Bruce summarized about life in the church together. "We believe encounters with Jesus transform lives."
Capture the idea any way you want, but celebrating transformed lives remains at the heart of what we strive to do together.
I have three takeaways from our conversation (which again, was a blessing).
I wish we'd gotten together sooner. He's a faithful pastor, and a kind, smart, soul.
Churches don't have to reinvent the wheel. Creativity and originality does not mean we have to throw everything out that came before us.
I'm going to invite him back. It's comforting to be around Christ-centered people.
Our church will continue to focus on specific areas of our lives together every year, but we will never depart from Christ's vision for us, His followers. Encountering Jesus transforms us, so let's celebrate the journey together.