The other week I went with Everett to his very first visit with the eye doctor. As I remember from when I was young, Everett had fun looking at the pictures and letters through the various lenses and machines. It’s one of the few doctor visits that’s more fun that scary for a child, because there’s no chance of a shot.
As the doctor flipped through various lenses, I couldn’t help but make the connection to our upcoming sermon series. Continuing our habit from the past few years, we are taking the tail end of January to begin a discussion about our mission and vision as a church. As Everett discovered in the doctor’s chair, clear vision dramatically improves our ability to assess reality and to be confident in what we are doing.
You may recall from last year’s sermon series that the landscape in front of our church looks vastly different from the landscape behind us. This does not erase the past, or mean that our time is any more special than other times. But our church, indeed the global church, finds itself in a time of dramatic change and social upheaval. Globalization and the information revolution that came with smart phones have irrevocably changed society as we know it. The training and structures within the church and seminaries do not address the changes in our society.
Thus, our church continues on an adventure of discovering God’s leadership in this time. Together we study the Scriptures, we exegete our community, and we look for new opportunities for ministry that challenge our default assumptions. This is exciting, even thrilling. And risky. But would it truly be adventure if it weren’t?
Our church has a mission statement and a vision statement. A mission is something that is more static. Our church should never cease seeking to know Jesus and make him known to others. Indeed, every church should make this their ultimate aim. However, this mission is not descriptive enough for a particular time and place.
A vision further distills the goals of the mission to what needs focus in a particular time and place. So our vision, along with its six guidelines provide further clarity for how we believe our church is called to move forward in this particular time.
I remind you, these vision guidelines are: stewarding our core ministries, a willingness to risk and experiment, encouraging every member in ministry, balancing the inward and the outward, learning to engage with others, and discerning God’s continued leading.
Since our vision is contextual by nature, this year, in our upcoming preaching series, we will spend a few weeks preaching about our context in Fort Dodge. In light of this vision, we ask, “How might God be calling us to engage the following issues within our context at FPCFD?”
Over the next month, we’ll explore the following topics: what it means for our church to be for our community, hunger in Webster County, the effects of mental illness, what we can do about divisions within our community, and we’ll conclude the series on the day of our annual meeting, February 18, with our program staff showing how we’ve pursued this vision in 2017.
I’m really excited to have these conversations with you all in the coming weeks. Like, really, really excited. They are challenging, multivalent issues, that will push us in new directions. Let’s continue the adventure together!
Austin D. Hill