Last year at this time I was dealing with some severe back problems. During that period, I devoted most of my efforts to getting over that condition through exercise and physical therapy, so some other activities took a back seat.
I thought about this in recent days as I began preparing for a class where we would discuss vision. There are many different understandings of what vision is but, at the core, vision is the preferred future for a person, group, or organization. It provides focus, commitment and a wise use of resources.
Much is made in larger churches of the need to have a well defined vision and this is certainly true if the church is to be effective. Having a clear vision is even more important in a smaller congregation.
The small congregation is somewhat in the situation I was in last year with my back problem. I only had limited resources, so I devoted most of them to getting better. A smaller congregation is usually limited in its resources—people, time and money—so it must use what it has as effectively as possible. This is not to say that a larger congregation can afford to be wasteful, but it usually has more resources to devote to activities that are “nice to have” but are not essential to mission.
The smaller congregation, on the other hand, must use its limited resources carefully because they may not only be limited but they may not be renewable.
As a result, a smaller congregation must be willing to put into the time to answer these questions:
1. What is our vision? What do we want to be or become?
2. What are the resources available to use?
3. Are we using those resources to pursue our vision?
4. If we are using those resources for peripheral activities, when will we stop?
Questions one and four may be the hardest to address. Once we have made the commitment to follow a certain faith, are we willing to be faithful to that decision? Failure to do so may put our future at risk.