matt tullos

the compost pile of writer, matt tullos. mostly poems, prayers, rants and naratives... "Gods passion for the world has compelled me to be a contributor in the warfare of grace rather than a spectator in the warfare of religion."

Location: Alexandria, LA, United States

Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Double Vision

If you’ve been in church leadership any amount of time you may have encountered a committee like the one that gathered at First Enigma. The Committee on Committees sat in the church parlor for their bimonthly meeting. The chairman opened in a short prayer and then began the meeting on a positive note.

"I want to congratulate the committee for the fine work we’ve done the past year. Even though church attendance decreased 40 percent since the recent piano-on-the-left-side/organ-on-the-right-side controversy, our esteemed committee managed to increase the number of active committees from 14 to 73," Ralph began.

"Make that 74. You forgot the carpet stain management committee that we created in our emergency meeting after the Youth DiscipleNow weekend," Emma interjected.

The committee applauded as Ralph took a red marker and colored in one more unit on the chart that they’d developed as a visual and motivational tool to chart their progress.

"Now we must press forward; there is a lot to do. Over the past few days, I have been
thinkin’ about the lack of results we’re experiencing. We’ve all been busy in meetings and committees, yet we don’t seem to be able to manage any growth."
"Good point," One member remarked.
"What could we do?" the Ralph asked.
"How about a Vision Statement?" a newly appointed member suggested.
Silence. Dead silence.
"I don’t think that’s in our ballpark. We’re practical. Vision statements, objectives, purpose, values... Those things are secular and squishy."
"Plus," An elderly member added, "I thought we had a vision statement. Isn’t it "A Million More in 2004".
"No, I’m afraid that was a million more in 54," Emma said.
A cautious man who, up to that point, sat stone-faced and unmoved spoke forth. "I have a friend who is a member of a church that started talking about vision and purpose and do you have any idea what showed up in their sanctuary two weeks later?
He paused for dramatic effect.

Most churches these days have double vision. The one that’s framed on the wall near the welcome center and the other unspoken one that tells people how the church really works. These statements fly under the radar, but they do exist. Here are a few unspoken vision statements:

Committed to wiping out PowerPoint in our lifetime.
So hip and intellectual that even we don’t know what we’re talking about.
We’ll top last year’s Christmas extravaganza or your tithe back.
Changing pastors every three years for the past 199 years!
We disagreed with First.
Softball, Fried Chicken and Fifth Sunday Singin’! What more could one want?
We are a church committed to huge speakers, tiny tweeters and lots of monitors! Can you hear us now?
We’ve got a pipe organ and we’re not afraid to use it!
We exist to make sure that kids know that kids should walk - not run in the building!
We believe in predestination and the future. Call us Hyperspace Calvinists!
Jesus is coming. Let’s look busy!
Offering 10.00. New Dress Shoes 25.00. Getting to the Lubby’s before the Methodists: Priceless.

Of course under-the-radar vision statements aren’t what the work of the church is really about…

It’s not about recognition
and it’s not about the carpet condition.
It’s not about fame
Nor critical acclaim,
Not about whose staff is best,
Nor what that church is doing out west.
It’s not about how much money we raise.
Nor what’s the newest worship craze.
It’s not about whose ego we bruise
Or the wealthy member we’d hate to loose.
It’s about seizing the chance to stand and prevail
Against the fortified bastions of hell,
Against unconquered spiritual regions,
And rescuing souls from the unholy legions.
It’s about counting the cost and bringing the lost
To the throne of grace to see Christ’s Holy Face.
When we look to the sky
And He appears with a shout,
No one will deny
What the church is about.


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