Oh, Vision! Where Art Thou?

oh visionIn two previous posts, The False Burden of the Vision Caster and BEWARE the Vision Bus!, I briefly surveyed what a prickly bend “vision casting” has become in Christendom. Granted, I purposefully  presented extreme examples of Vision Casters in order to make a point:  While vision casting seems like a logical practice in getting something accomplished for God in the earth, it is actually counter productive to Father’s purposes and brings harm to His People.  Simply rallying people around a presented cause FOR Christ  and consuming them and their resources to facilitate that cause is not the same as drawing people TO Christ and equipping them IN Christ.

All of the Vision Casters presented in the previous posts and many more like them would be considered “successful” in the eyes of Christendom and the modern world simply because of the sheer numbers in their congregations, their social/political influence, assets and $$$ in the bank.

Yet, according to The Barna Group, approximately 85% of churches in America have less than 200 people; 60% of churches are under 100 people; the average size congregation in US is 89 people.  There are a large number of reasons why pastors leave churches.  (If you would like to read through some of them, you can do so here and, if by some chance you would care to read my take on them, you can do that here.)  However, the #1 reason pastors leave the ministry, according to Christian research expert George Barna, is that “church people are not willing to go the same direction and goal of the pastor.  Pastors believe God wants them to go in one direction but the people are not willing to follow or change.”

So the main reason why “pastors” leave “churches” or “ministry” is because there exists a “conflict over vision“.

Well, that’s the intel on “pastors”. What about the people?

In another study, Barna stated that over 1 million people a year are leaving “church”. (WOW!)    Interestingly, many of these ‘unchurched’ people are spiritually active. One out of every five reads the Bible in a typical week; six out of ten pray to God each week; and nearly one million ‘unchurched’ adults tithe their income – that is, donate at least 10% of their annual household revenue to non-profit entities.

Barna says, “A large and growing number of Americans who avoid congregational contact are not rejecting Christianity as much as they are shifting how they interact with God and people in a strategic effort to have a more fulfilling spiritual life. This suggests that we are on the precipice of a new era of spiritual experience and expression.”    Hmmmmmm, interesting!

Well now, what just a minute?  Why the conflict?  I mean, isn’t the pastor the “called and anointed” one to lead?  That’s what we are told, ain’t it?  So, shouldn’t the people just agree with the Vision Caster, fall in line and make IT happen?!?!  Listen, if someone is called into a “pastoral” or “ministerial” role, they are called to equip; not crack the whip!

It is obvious that people are coming to understand that serving “THE Vision” does not mean you are serving God even if that’s what Vision Casters proclaim.  Some are more charismatic (i don’t mean spiritually here) than others and more adept at convincing the people to fall in line. They are the “successful” ones, while hundreds, if not thousands, of wannabe VCs are unable to work the system and eventually quit altogether as millions of people exit.  Regardless of apparent success or abject failure, Vision Casting is devastating to Father’s purposes in and for His People.

Here’s the deal.  The VC system is a broken religious system patterned after a worldly, corporation order/mentality and it does not work in bringing about Father’s purposes and it never will.  Since that is the case, where can True Vision be found?  True Vision is found in People! (Listen, people!  It’s About People!)

In an attempt to explain, may I present a very familiar passage of scripture, which we usually reserve for reading at funerals. (i’m not sure why we do so)

Psalm 23 (MSG)

David Psalm

1-3 God, my shepherd!  I don’t need a thing. You have bedded me down in lush meadows, you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word,  you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction. Even when the way goes through  Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.  You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies.  You revive my drooping head;  my cup brims with blessing.  Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life. I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.

First things first!  God is THE Shepherd.  When Jesus came in the anointing of the Christ, he proclaimed that he was the Good Shepherd.  In Ephesians 4, it clearly notifies us that Jesus Christ, gave “out of Himself” gifts of “Himself” (or gifts according to His Nature) to the Church.  As listed, these gifts of apostles, prophets, pastors-teachers and evangelists, were given for a very specific PURPOSE……….to EQUIP the saints for the work of the ministry which would allow the Body of Christ to build itself up in love until it comes to MATURITY in CHRIST!
So, if someone is truly “called” and “anointed” in one of these Christ giftings/graces by God, they will DO what is in accordance with the nature of Christ’s grace.
Let’s look back at Psalm 23 and see the Nature of God as THE Shepherd.
God as a Shepherd causes His People not to lack or be without anything.  He “makes me lie down in green pastures” or He encourages me to stretch out and rest.  He “leads me beside the still water” which literally means He leads me to a place of rest. Wow, that is quite a bit of rest, isn’t it?
What’s next?  “He restores my soul” or, as it says in The Message above, “you let me catch my breath and send me in the right direction.”
Okay, so that is God as Shepherd, now let’s see what Jesus said when he came on the scene:

All things have been entrusted and delivered to Me by My Father; and no one fully knows and accurately understands the Son except the Father, and no one fully knows and accurately understands the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son deliberately wills to make Him known.  (there’s the transition of grace/function from Father as Shepherd to Jesus)

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]  (Hmmmm……sounds familiar)

Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am gentle (meek) and humble (lowly) in heart, and you will find rest (relief and ease and refreshment and recreation and blessed quiet) for your souls.  (Hmmmm……..pretty consistent)

For My yoke is wholesome (useful, good—not harsh, hard, sharp, or pressing, but comfortable, gracious, and pleasant), and My burden is light and easy to be borne. (Hmmmmmm…….nice touch)

So now, let’s see how that is transferred over and expressed by an “anointed Vision Caster ” who is supposed to be partaking of Christ’s Nature in order to equip the saints to do the work of the ministry.
“You don’t come to this church to be fed. You come here to help me fulfill this vision.  That is if God called you here.  You haven’t been called here so you can be fed the word.  Now, if you get fed in the midst of it, that’s good.  But you’ve been called to find your part in bringing this vision to pass in the earth.  That’s why you’ve been called to the church.  If you don’t understand you have a part to play in this vision to come to pass ……..that’s why God called you.  When God calls a person to a church, your called to that church to help that pastor fulfill that vision.”
Is that consistent with Father’s Nature as committed to the Son?  No.  No it is not.

Do you see the difference?  With Father and Son, it is about meeting the people’s needs and equipping them to BE something rather than DO something.  If you understand that the Creation Narrative in Genesis is actually a revelation of God and His intention, you would realize that Man’s first full day (the 7th) was a day of REST!  In our own strength and reasoning, we will never DO for God what we think He wants us to Do for Him.  He wants us to cease from our own labors and, through rest, be empowered by the Spirit to enter into and fulfill His purposes.

God’s Vision and the Vision Caster’s vision could not be further apart in nature and purpose.  God’s Vision is Christ formed in and released through the People, while with Vision Casters, people who do not get with the program are of little significance when compared to the Vision and those that do board the Vision Bus are to be expended to facilitate the THING.  God’s Vision is a Body of matured sons who have been conformed to the image of Christ and are empowered/led by the Spirit; not a people who are driven!

I will tell you, it was a violation to me personally when I realized that God did not require nor desire my vision, my gifting or anything I could do for Him.  When I realized that He was interested in winning all of my being more than He was interested in all of my doing in trying to win the world for Jesus, it caused me to stop abusing and wearing myself out along with the people that I influenced.  While a violation of my false identity occurred, I was also freed to pursue that which truly interested God………….Christ in (me/His People) which is the hope of glory and where the True Vision exists. (listen to part of my testimony here)

Now, as we see people being nurtured, equipped and released to function according to the measure of Christ’s grace given to them, you can’t keep track of nor administrate the Vision that flows out of their lives, families and communities.   God designed it that way…………on purpose….. and that will be the manner through which He performs His intentions in the earth!

Final Thought: I know I speak frankly regarding a topic such as this.  I do so because I do not take it lightly.  While purposefully providing a definite edge in order to get people to pay attention, believe me when I say, the examples I have shared are moderate examples and  by no means the extreme examples I could present.  There are real life examples to which I am privy, whether through my own eye witness accounts or listening to the stories of precious people both, Casters and Castees, that would truly make you cringe.

Bottom line…….people are devastated and Father is misrepresented by a VC paradigm.  That is why I speak plainly.

Furthermore, I am not angry at VCs.  As I have mentioned repeatedly, I used to be one.  The things I perpetrated on God’s People where done out of ignorance and a religious zeal and were, quite frankly, what I was trained to do.  I understand where they are and I know what they are thinking.  Not only have I dealt with and continue to deal with people who have been run over by the Vision Bus, I have also dealt with and continue to deal with ex-VCs.  I guess you will have to believe me when I tell you, the ex-VCs are just as damaged as anyone.

Bottom line….every believer will stand before Father one day and answer for the manner in which they treated people.  Those who are called, gifted and positioned to influence and effect God’s People will stand before Him and give account according to the degree of their grace.  They will answer if they laid hands on His Bride in preparation to be received by Him or if they laid hands on His Bride for their own intentions and purposes!  In that moment, ignorance will not be excused and religious zeal will not be rewarded kindly.  That is why I speak plainly.

Keep your Peace!

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