Over the past several months, we have been “trying on” our new vision statement. Presently it reads,
We envision our church community as vibrant and bold, embodying the reconciling Way of Jesus.
A small group of us reviewed survey responses, kept our stated values close, and put pen to paper to capture the essence of who we are now and how we imagine ourselves in the future. A vision is an ambitious — but realistic — declaration of where we want to find ourselves at some point in the not-too-distant future but can’t really say about ourselves now.
Where does the statement come from? Following are some reflections.
Vibrant: we see our church community as full of life, and preparing for new life. Our congregation is ageing — and that’s totally fine! — age doesn’t need to bear any relevance on vibrance. We do also see a greater diversity of ages in the future. Most important, we see our church community as a refreshing source of life, and where all of our activities are life-giving.
Bold: we have a history of standing up for a fairer world, and for taking on important issues. We want to continue that. If we have been timid with some issues in the past, we see ourselves taking these on boldly in the future.
Embodying: a church (derived from the Greek, “ecclesia”) is a gathered group of people. A church is a body. Specifically, the church is the body of Christ — a group of people where the Christ energy is present and flowing freely. Christians say that the church is the hands and feet of Christ, doing the tasks Jesus can no longer do after he ascended.
Reconciling: to reconcile is to come together again. It denotes repairing relationships, either on an individual level or on a collective level. The word is commonly used for indigenous-settler relations, and that is some of our intent. But reconciliation is scalable: between two people, between a person and God, between a group and God, or between two or more groups. Christianity is about reconciling our past, to live into a future where we are free to love and be loved.
Way of Jesus: the early Christians referred to themselves as “Followers of the Way.” They didn’t see Jesus as a founder of a new religion; they saw his as the founder of a new way of being. This movement was part of, and also separate from, mainstream Judaism. It includes religious practices and it seems to have included individual discipleship and contemplative practice. It is a way of nonviolence — resisting injustice with love before might.
Soon we’ll decide whether to adopt this vision as our new way of being.