Proverbs 29:18 tells us that “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Depending upon the translation of the Bible you are reading, the word “vision” may also be translated as “prophecy,” or “redemptive revelation from God.” As I am reading this verse in light of the work of our community of faith today, I recognize that without grasping a clear and discernable God-given direction, a person, or people, or an organization may very well perish. If nothing else, it will never reach its full potential. It will never thrive.
Augusta Road Baptist Church is about to embark on the most important process in our recent history. We are about to begin the process of discerning the vision that God has for our community of faith for the next few years, and indeed the foreseeable future. I am grateful to be able to say that the last three and a half years have brought our church health, growth, and a renewed sense of purpose and vitality. It is a wonderful time to be part of this community of faith as we worship, grow together, care for one another, and as we serve our community.
If you were with us at our church year kickoff breakfast on Sunday, September 10, you heard me say that we know we have a wonderful church, and we are all part of it for very good reasons. We have a great thing going at ARBC. We just need to know what to do with it.
The work of discerning and understanding the unique identity of ARBC and the unique vision that God has for us begins on Saturday, September 30. On that day I and a team of our church members will meet with Bill Wilson, Founder and Director of the Center for Healthy Churches, to outline the necessary process for diligently and prayerfully discerning the future into which God is leading our church. The Vision Team that will be leading this process along with our church staff will include Jordon Beasley, John Brady, Janet Holliday, Chip Howard, Clista LeGrand, Dale Rogers, and Susan Zeigler. Each of these individuals is uniquely suited to this task, and we will soon have a time to commission them for the work they have been asked to do.
Together we will be engaging the congregation in discussions that will help us understand the times in our history when ARBC has been its best. These conversations will shed light on how we have been shaped to be who we are today. We will analyze our current context so that we can understand who our congregation is today, as well what has changed in Greenville in recent years. We will ask God to help us discern the ministry initiatives in our church and our community that we are uniquely suited to address, and that are grand enough that they will require dependence upon God’s help to achieve. All of this will help us to discern the specific vision that God has for the future of our church.
Once the vision is clarified, we will analyze our church and its ministries in four areas: Structures, Facilities, Finances, and Staffing. We will then determine the areas where we fall short, what changes must be made, and what plans must be executed in order to help our church realize the vision God has given us for the next three to five years. Finally we will begin the work of living into the vision God has given us. Every program, ministry initiative, and necessary decision about our church will then be executed with this vision as our guiding framework. We will know that everything we do is leading us where God desires us to be.
This is a truly exciting process and time in the life of our church, as we are able to dream together about our future. I ask that you pray for this work, and that we will find ways to be indifferent to our own desires and understandings of success so that we might clearly discern God’s desires for us. Pray for our Vision Team and our church staff as we lead the congregation through this process. Pray for the future into which God is leading us, that it might bless our church and community as we live into God’s calling within the movement of the Kingdom of God.
Most importantly, join in the conversation. When we have opportunity to engage you, join us in the dreaming process. Grab onto the enthusiasm that we feel about this church and what it is capable of. The vision will be fully realized when the entire congregation is walking the road God has paved for us.
If we give this process our all, if we do it right, if we are blessed by God through what takes place, if we collectively commit to diligently following the plan God has for us, we will never need to worry about perishing. Together we will thrive. I look forward to dreaming with you.
Rev. W. Mattison King