Vision and Theology in Church Leadership (Part One)

How should a pastor/church leader determine vision for the church?

Obvious answers include go to God and/or go to the Scriptures, right?

Well…yes and no. Certainly Christians believe God answers prayer. So consulting Him about the direction of the church seems like a good idea (to say the least). And the Scriptures teach that the mission of the church is disciple-making (Matthew 28. 16-20).  

So who needs more vision than that? Just do it (insert Nike swish here).

But hold on. Isn’t each local church supposed to have a unique vision/understanding of the mission for their particular organization in their specific location? Isn’t that the implication of Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 12. 14-27? So who determines what the vision is and how does someone get it?

Some pastors believe that only they are “mature” enough to handle the heady business of “getting vision from God.” God just communicates what He wants done to the pastor who then passes it along to the peons, I mean, church members. Moses going to the mountain is their model for getting vision.

Others don’t worry about such things. They have an idea that if pastors just put their head down and do what needs to be done (preaching, visitation and worship) everything else will take care of itself,  if the people are obedient to the Scriptures and God’s guidance (as revealed through the Pastor’s sermons, of course).

Both approaches are appallingly theologically ignorant, not to mention unjust, hierarchical, and paternalistic. They neglect the single most important God-event since the Resurrection.

The Holy Spirit has taken up residence in the lives of His people.

What are the implications of His new dwelling place for church leadership? What does that mean about how to determine vision/guidance? How should pastors lead people who all have equal access to God? 

See Part Two for some suggested answers.

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