I don’t know about you, but I’m sure tired of ministry leaders who assume that their BIG VISION for mobilizing the body of Christ automatically trumps my smaller vision for our local church.
Yet, it happens all the time. A parachurch organization, a denominational leader or local pastor comes up with a plan to mobilize the body of Christ at large in order to do something great for God. It’s always a cause that’s hard to argue with: an evangelistic outreach, church planting, a mission project, a compassion drive, a citywide prayer meeting or even a political agenda that can only be pulled off if we all mobilize to fend off the latest crisis de jour.
For instance, we were recently approached about participating in a one-year campaign of community service designed as the pre-evangelism for a citywide evangelistic crusade to follow. It sounded like a great idea. I love the concept of uniting churches to serve. I love putting the music of service to the words of the gospel.
But here’s the problem. North Coast Church already has an extensive community outreach. We already average nearly two service projects a day. And every 18 months we close down our weekend services for an additional massive Weekend of Service that each time has provided over $1,000,000 worth of biddable goods and services to the community.
If we sign on for their BIG VISION it will mean putting our God-given vision on hold. It will kill our momentum and set us back a long way. Yet, if we don’t play along, we’ll be branded as self-centered megachurch that doesn’t know how to play well with others in the sandbox.
My guess is that I’m not alone. It’s not just megachurches that have to deal with this. Our size makes us a prime target because we look like a huge recruiting depot and a potential source of significant funds to the BIG VISION types. But the pressure to jump aboard everyone else’s bandwagon is nothing new. It began when we were a small church. It’s just that then we were last in line and now we’re the first to be hit up.
I’m not saying that God isn’t behind these BIG VISION initiatives. I’m not saying they’re unimportant. I am saying that in their zeal to mobilize the troops, these leaders too often forget a couple of very important truths – the priesthood of all believers and the diversity of the body of Christ.
We’re not all called to do or be the same thing. If my name isn’t on their vision, it’s not necessarily because I’m not listening to God. It might be that I’m hearing him quite clearly.
Instead of full-court presses and drive-by-guiltings, it would be far better if they would simply run the magnet through the sand, picking up and gathering all those who share their vision and letting the rest go home. It worked rather well for Gideon.
But instead they tend to cajole, hound, and pester – solicitous on the front end (when they’re still trying to gain my support), too often rude or condescending on the back end (if they fail to get it).
I’m not easily pushed around. I can dig my feet in with the best, especially when I know God has called our church to do something different. But I sense that many of us do give in to the pressure and jump aboard not because we’re called, but because we don’t want to face the grief that comes from standing alone.
So tell me – what’s your experience with these BIG VISION folks? Am I all wet – or spot on? Am I the only one who wonders why these people always claim to love me and have a wonderful plan for our church, our people, and our money?