We talk a great deal about vision in Christian circles. Many hours are spent on developing vision statements, buying books on vision-casting, and attending conferences on identifying and communicating our vision. In practice, however, we tend to lose sight of the vision that makes the church not only great but essential. In our efforts to be exceptional, we just become more mundane.
The terminology we use has a lot to do with this. In talking about “church,” we too often limit it to a building, a set of persons (members), or sometimes to clergy leaders (especially in sacramental traditions). We tend to want to domesticate or narrow the understanding of the church so that we can deal with it more effectively or force it into submission. In so doing, we lower our sight from the horizon
and look down to the cracks in the sidewalk, fearing that we will stumble.
Those who have had a greater vision of the church down through the ages have found bold, sweeping terms to describe the church—“the Body of Christ,” “a royal priesthood,” “vanguard of the Kingdom,” “God’s new creation,” “the city of God,” or “a contrast community.” These terms point us to a more radical, transforming mission for the church.
Perhaps we accomplish so little because our vessel is so small. God can only bless when we open ourselves to God’s blessing.