Monday, August 17, 2009

Vision Part 2

To inspire and nurture the human spirit— one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.

The phrase above is the official mission statement of Starbucks Coffee. Maybe you’ve heard of them. They sell coffee. However, they have turned a simple cup of coffee into a whole lifestyle. How? They formulated a mission, and then carried it out. The statement is very clear and well defined. They intend “to inspire and nurture the human spirit.”

They also make sure they know how they will accomplish the first part of the statement. They don’t just see their business as selling coffee; they see each individual as valuable and make them feel important as well. Their approach is to start with the individual (one person), then attend to their wants and needs (one cup), and then through them to influence others (one neighborhood). Go into any Starbucks and I’m sure the person behind the counter, called Baristas, can recite this mission statement for you.

I promised in the last column, that we would analyze our own vision statement and the five “key characteristics” that our church adopted some years ago to see how we are measuring up. Can you recite our vision statement? Have you ever heard it? Have you ever seen it on any publications from the church? My guess is that most have rarely seen or heard it, and fewer can recite it. The vision statement is below.

We are a caring, growing family of Christian faith who, in partnership with God’s Holy Spirit, are committed to sharing God’s love in Jesus Christ and fostering growth through the spread of the gospel and lifelong discipleship.

As vision statements go, it’s not too bad. It was carefully thought out, and seems to include all aspects of who we should be as Christians. In all it is a great statement. While it does have some elements of purpose, it isn’t short enough to commit to memory and incorporate into everything we do. When that is the case, many times organizations find themselves not measuring up to their vision, because they forget what it is and can’t articulate it.

How do we measure up to our vision statement? Let’s take a look at some key phrases in it and consider whether or not we are truly living up to these words in this church body. As you read each one, ask yourself the following two questions. How do we rank as a church in fulfilling this part of our vision statement? How do I measure up in doing my part to help fulfill them?

Caring- We are truly a caring group of people in this church. There is no doubt about that. However, to what end are we caring? Are we caring for the physical well being of others, but forgetting to care for the soul? When was the last time you asked someone about their spiritual well being? Caring is wonderful, but as Christians it is not enough to care for the body. We must care for and nurture the spirit as well.

Growing-This word is mentioned twice in this sentence. It says that we are growing, and that we want to foster growth. Let’s hold up the “measuring line” to this one. How are we growing? Is it numerically or spiritually? Is it both, one or the other, or neither? We say we want to foster growth, but which kind of growth? How are we going to foster it? The statement says we will accomplish this through both sharing the gospel and through lifelong discipleship. Are we as a whole church body doing both of these things?

Partnership with God’s Holy Spirit-The Holy Spirit needs to be the leader in all that we do. We are partners with Him only in the sense that we are the hands and feet and He is the driving force. The decisions about the direction of our church should never be made in “partnership” with the Holy Spirit. They should be made in obedience and submission to the Holy Spirit.

Committed- Are we truly committed to sharing God’s love? Are YOU truly committed to this task or have you left it up to others? Are we sometimes more committed to other things in our lives than seeking God’s will and sharing His love?

My prayer is that we would begin to own our vision statement and live out its words in all of our church life. This week, try to do something towards that goal. Next, we will begin to analyze the five “key characteristics” of our church which are listed in our church constitution. May God richly bless you as we work through this together.

Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it [perfection]. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
(Philippians 3:13-16 NIV)

No comments: