The Push For Vision
November 11, 2014
“Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18).
I’ve always loved that proverb. It was the motto of the church of my youth and young adulthood. The “push” for vision came primarily from our pastor, who caused many of us to embrace that truth with our hands, hearts and minds.
He came to our church as a young seminary graduate with three small children. For decades our church had been pretty dormant, mostly gathering on Sunday for worship that had gotten painfully predictable.
It took several years for his charismatic leadership to “take,” but once it did, our sleepy church erupted with new life. By the time I was a teenager, we had a huge, dynamic youth group, and for the first time in the church’s history, we employed a youth minister. That youth group would be instrumental, not only in our young lives, but for our church and the entire county-wide community. Our morals, values, attitudes, ethics and vision for a truly meaningful faith experience were shaped and molded by this life together.
To say that we outgrew the facility would be a dramatic understatement, so we built an education wing larger than our sanctuary. Next, we quickly outgrew the sanctuary, so the congregation voted to demolish the old one and build a new one that doubled the seating capacity.
As a youth through all of that building, I worried often how we would come up with the money to do these things, but the money always took care of itself. That was where I learned a great deal about being “pressed” into service and giving sacrificially of my “time, talent and tithe.” Our pastor taught us about the importance of making our life of faith central to our being, never allowing it to be ancillary. That calling forth of passion for Christ’s sake created a congregation full of “sacrificiants” for the cause.
That pastor’s name is Charles Wellons. He is 85 now, and he’s lost his sight to macular degeneration. Though retired now, he is loved by generations of people for his ministry among us, and many have been called into ministry as a result of his passionate example. I called him recently to thank him for what he’s meant to me.
The moral of this true story: Too often we pastors are mealy-mouthed in our requests for investments to further God’s kingdom, and too often those of us in the pews are too satisfied that we aren’t being challenged. In our denomination, we’ve spent two years embracing “Transformed by the Spirit” and in our region, we’ve been working on “Pathways” to meaningful growth and change.
Prayer: Lord, we know that where there is no vision, the people perish, so keep us from perishing by filling us with new vision that we embrace with our whole being. Amen.
Reverend Bob Ballance
Pine Street Church