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« Voices of the Virtual World: Participative Technology and the Ecclesial Revolution - Pre-release announcement | Main | Being Missional »

July 18, 2007

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Ed Brenegar

Dennis,
In a sense, what we have are two circles. One with Ideas, Relationships and Structure, and the other with Mission, Vision and Values. Depending on a variety of considerations, the individual congregation will gravitate toward one of the three, more than the other. If we changed the language in the first to Beliefs, Relationships and Church Structure, you can see what we are dealing with are three different conceptions of what a church is. For some the primary emphasis is on the beliefs of the church. Whether it is Scripture, theology or the creeds, being clear and correct in our believes can easily become the primary focus of the church. Structurally, a church that is more institution that community will be focused on process, programs and the governing structure of the church. And then theree are some churches that are minimalist on both, and value the fellowship of the church over everything else. I think these three can fit within each of the size transitions models. Some are more likely than others, but I don't see it as a given than a family church will be solely focused on their relationships. Or a larger church on structure.
So, for argument's sake we see a congregation fitting in one more than the others. To find balance, they need to address the other two. The way to do this is to look at the Mission, Values and Vision piece. They are connections. So you can ask the question, how do our beliefs as a church factor into how we function as a church organization. The form or structure follows the function or mission of the church. Same with the values piece. How do our beliefs impact our relationships. From that discussion a set of values emerge that become the bond that unifies the congregation. I suggest reading Jim Collins and Barry Posner's book Built To Last about the relationship between values and cultural practices. Very relevant for the church.
Finally, if your mission and values are clear, and you ask the four impact questions then from that discussion should emerge a clear sense of what the church's impact should be. That becomes a church's vision.
How do you do this? It is going to be different from each church. What is important is that all six points on the two circles have some clarity so that the church knows where it stands.
Hope this helps. This is a work in progress, and I'm learning more and more as I test this with groups.

DennisS

I'm starting to see the value of vision, mission, and values - and how they are at the helm, regardless the size of ship (community).

I'm working on these personally right now. Next will be working on them with the Session. Can you say a little about how this is best done in community? I'm assuming this is not at all to be authoritarian (which Bonhoeffer was railing about), but a participatory process.

Are there significant differences in (re-)establishing vision, mission, and values among the various sizes of congregations? (Family, Pastor, Program sizes.) I'm thinking of waiting until January (changes in Elders) to begin the process.

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