Yesterday was a great day, at least for me.

It was a church day, Father's Day, my own birthday, and the first day in my lifetime that a Cleveland pro-sports team won a championship! (Growing up in Northeast Ohio, I’d gotten accustomed to everybody else being the champions…it still a bit surreal that the Cavs pulled off such a big win!)

As a birthday present, my kids got me a box of spinning ground-sparklers that we had fun lighting at dusk, watching little fireballs spin and spark out of control on the driveway. A great way to celebrate the end of a great day!

Sparking New Ideas
I like to think of ideas as sparks – they may lead somewhere, they may catch fire, but they also might just look bright for fleeting second. Most sparks don’t result in fires, but once in a while, one catches on, and a “real fire” begins. That fire will throw off thousands of its own sparks eventually, all a result of that first one.
Ideas can spark to life anytime:

“Hey, I wonder if they’ve ever thought of…”
“Someone really ought to…”
“I’ve got it! Why don’t we…?”

If sparks are like ideas, a fire is like a vision.

The struggle, sometimes, is to know the difference. Which bright shiny spark is the one that will start the fire?

That’s how we end up in conversations like: “That’s a terrific idea, but I’m not sure if it lines up with our vision.” Or, “Our vision isn’t really clear right now, so we probably shouldn’t implement a hodge-podge of ideas until we get it worked out.”

Vision is different from ideas, because vision isn’t random or sudden. Vision is a picture in our hearts that fills us with passion about the future – more developed, more studied, more vetted than just the latest idea.

Where the Fire Starts
When a church sets forth its visionary plans, it prayerfully is lighting a fire that will carry the gospel forward, help the people of the church grow in their walk with Christ, and be the driver of direction and focus for the future. When that kind of clear vision doesn’t exist, or when it gets confused, it becomes harder for the church to gain traction or maintain momentum.

I believe church vision is built through:

  • God’s Word – as we examine the priorities laid out for us in Scripture
  • Prayer – as we sense together what is on God’s heart for our church/community
  • Gifting – as we evaluate what God has entrusted us with as a church family (people, resources, talents, etc.) that we can use for our mission together
  • Input – as we look to one another for ideas (sparks) and experience that may help us see things with more clarity
  • Leadership – as the leadership team of the church brings together all of the above to offer a step-by-step path forward.

One of the reasons we’re studying Titus presently in our Sunday morning services is because I sense that a time of fresh vision is upon us, and that some sparks are starting to catch.  Titus is one Bible book that can give us practical handles on what our main church priorities should be – particularly when it comes to discipleship and points of strategic emphasis.

I like to work out vision goals on an annual cycle, to set forth priorities that can define direction for a year or two at a time.  To me, that keeps the vision appropriately accountable (with measurable timeframes) and also appropriately humble (knowing that things should/will change as time goes on – hence, the need for an annual “respark” of the fire).

Right now, our Elder/Pastoral team are looking at the 2016-2017 season and asking the Lord:

“Lord, where would You have us go during this time?”
“What outreach goals should we set before our congregation?”
“What difference should we aim to make in our community?”
“How do You want us to grow in influence, wisdom, knowledge, and love?”

The answers to these questions are coming. We would be glad if you would pray along with us. As the summer progresses, I’ll be excited to share specifics.*

In fact, I’m REALLY encouraged right now. (Not just because of the Cavs. But because of you!)

Let’s build a fire!

Dan Jarvis
Interim Teaching Pastor