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Hi John,

If what you what you want from a 2 hour vision meeting is a some kind of plan for the future, then there are lots of ways to accomplish that.  And there are very few "rules" if any.  But if visioning is holy, then that's a good place to begin.  So:

Rule #1: Keep it holy.  No 2 minute bookend prayers.  Instead, explore what it means to allow God enter holy community in the room in which you meet.  This requires transparent hearts, with each other and with God.  So begin with sharing and let that lead to prayer. 

Rule #2: Two hours is very short, so don't waste any opportunites.  Use the sharing to start the visioning.  There are lots of good questions to help this along.  You could try: What have you appreciated most about this church?  Which of God's promises speaks most loudly in this church?  Or develop a question that speaks more directly to area of visioning you want to deal with: If you want to vision about the discipleship of youth a useful question might be "What did you appreciate most about the learning that happened in your youth."  Three crisp questions is the maximum you can deal with in 2 hours, so choose them wisely.  So one useful order does like this: 1. What's good about...? 2. What's not good about...? 3. What can we do about that...?  If the discussion gets too vague - the question was likely too vague.

Rule #3:  Two hours is very short.  Either do a longer vision about a narrow topic, or a shorter vision about the big thing.  Or consider this part 1 of several if you can get the rest of your leaders on board.  Trying to accomplish too much in two hours can be harmful.

This is certainly not everything you need to know.  But these are three quick "rules" with potential for a community building, vision meeting.

A Wild Thought:

Since we have, according to some sociologists, 5 or 6 generations in a typical congregation (Builders, Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y, Millenials, etc.) I have an idea.  Some churches try to have equal numbers of men and women in leadership - thus more equally representing the congregation.  Other churches have made attempts at having people of different political stripes in leadership - again to represent the entire congregation.  How about having leaders from each of the 5 or 6 generations in leadership?  That might do a better job of representing and understanding the congregation.  A church council would have equal numbers of teenagers, 20 somethings, 30 somethings, boomers and builders.  Mentoring could be an integral part of that kind of leadership too...

Coffee Shops seem to hosts for small groups in many towns and cities.  And just like on Canadian Air Farce they meet regularly, share opinions freely, some times share feelings, and do a lot of encouragement.  Community- building small groups happen every day where the aroma of fresh coffee wafts over small tables and chairs.  In some of the coffee shop groups I have seen, I sense that is the only community available for some of the folks - especially the seniors.

Recently, my wifeand I were out for an intimate cappucino at our local coffee shop and an old fellow at the next table started chatting with us.  We found that he was a survivor of the second world war, a writer, a retired professor... and very lonely since his wife passed away.  What a lovely 20 minutes we spent together.

This morning I met with several people at the same coffee shop where we prayed and discussed a new Christian venture for the community of Guelph.  We had a great time together.

Community and Coffee Shops...  Small groups should be a natural!

“Give me one reason to stay here, and I’ll turn right back around.”  This was the plea of Tracy Chapman in her popular song of 1996.  This is also the plea of people who reluctantly leave the congregations they love.  And I suspect that the all too common response is an awkward, tongue tied silence.  So what do Tracy and many of the below forty crowd need to hear from the ones they love?

In the church of my youth the answer was quite compelling: “we need you”.  The church was developing a Christian response to the heart-of-scripture issues of justice and mercy across the world.  In those heady times our kitchen tables and church basements were places of passionate discussion to develop the Christian Farmers Federation, the Christian Labour Association, the Institute for Christian Studies, the Alliance of Christian Schools, the Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, Citizens for Public Justice and some others.  People I looked up to gave every spare moment and most spare dollars to a Kingdom-of-God based revolution, travelling and speaking in the churches across the land.  It was clear that I and my friends were needed in this active, visionary church body where every part was important.

Having now successfully assigned these matters to the well-run organizations that we worked so hard to begin, we wonder how to answer Tracy’s hard but simple challenge.  Meanwhile, the march of evil continues and injustice multiplies itself daily.

I see those who tirelessly work for justice in the organizations I name above.  They are the young, the visionary, the crazy workers inspired by the Kingdom of God.  They line up to staff these organizations, often for lesser salaries, in order to engage God sized causes bigger than themselves and perhaps bigger than their churches.

And so I wonder; have these organizations, in a way, replaced the church?  Have they usurped her vision?  Has the role of the church been relegated to some kind of support club – sending money and training the future workers?  Has the church lost her revolutionary role?

And so, coming back to Tracy’s plea that resonates with Loius’ question that started this conversation, the church needs to give people a reason a reason to stay here.

Jack Tacoma on January 2, 2013

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

This is great topic  Ray.  The photo with the post shows a welcome sign at the entrance to a dining hall. It reads something like: “Youth Leaders: meet your mentor”. Mentoring builds youth leadership better than almost anything else. It encourages leadership development and maturity. Having been a youth leader, I can clearly and with much fondness remember each one of the adults that took time to coach and mentor me.  God’s desire for good leadership in me may have been crushed without their wise and loving presence.  What a great vision of Christian community-based leadership: wisdom of the mature working with the ideals and energy of the youth.

I am not sure that I agree with John’s implication that youth (more than older leaders) will try to please people more than please God.  My own observation over many years in leadership is that older leaders get this one wrong more than youth do.

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