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Vision and action have to come together to change the world

September 19, 2022

“Vision without action is merely a dream; action without vision is merely passing time; but vision and action together can change the world.”

I recently had a conversation with church leadership (out of town). They wanted to be more engaged with their community and were not sure how to get started. I have always hoped that churches can become “Parish Churches” again, places where community members can come for everything that happens (birth, death, celebrations, hardship, emergency food, Counseling and so much more). A church where ‘everyone knows your name’ (can you hear the Cheers jingle?)

In Asset Based Community Development work we start with what we already have… what gifts and talents are already in the church that could bless the community, and what gifts and talents are in the community that could bless the church? Then instead of planning on what the church wants to do, we have conversations with community members to find out what they would like to see happening in a church while at the same time the church imagined what a good neigbhorhood looks like. This is sometimes a little more complicated since so many churches have become ‘commuter churches’ where people drive to and don’t necessary know the neighborhood where the church is located. But when people come together amazing things happen and both parties win.

Churches should be places where Good News is given out… good news about God and His restoration plan, good news for people who are hungry, good news for people who don’t have purpose, good news for people who are working so hard to make ends meet that they feel they can’t breathe. Churches should be places where people can find peace, rest, help and restoration.

To do that a church has to have a vision, and has to put this vision into action. For that a church needs to dream, seek, and develop a vision that is beneficial for all…. But then they need to put that plan into action, they need to put their money, time, resources, facilities into positions that can bring SHALOM into the neighborhoods. Neighbors need to learn to trust the church again and use their gifts and skills to work together to make their community a better place.

There is a famous Bible verse that is often quoted: “I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for a hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11), but it is written in the context of a story about people who were taken as slaves into a different country. Just a few verses before that it says: “Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I (God) have carried you. Pray to the Lord for it, because it is prospers you too will prosper”.

One is conditioned on the other. As churches we are called to bless our city, our neighborhoods. Let’s use the skills, gifts, knowledge we have to bless our neighborhoods, not by ‘fixing them’, but by working together, side by side, to bless the community and let the community bless the church.

So, what is your vision? How do you live it out? What actions are you taking?

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