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  • Martin Kirkbride

Thought For Today: Vision

A Provocative Hard Question: When we think of "church," we generally think congregation – buildings, people, location, programs. This is the traditional faith community that most of us have experienced. And then came lockdown with the closure of buildings, plus social distancing all but virtually keeping us apart.

Lots of new ways have emerged of being and doing church together. In the main these have focussed on doing the traditional things that we always did, but by doing it differently. There is an expectation, probably an unrealistic one, that one day all will return to how it used to be. I know that many are looking forward to ‘going back’. Personally, I don’t want to go back, I want to go forward. Going back to, ‘how it used to be’, included many congregations getting older, shrinking attendance, attracting less new people, and being seen as an irrelevant club where a victorian time-warp masquerades as reality.

So, the question is, do we have the vision not only to embrace a different way of doing things but to embrace doing something different – not returning to the past but stepping out of the old comfort zones to step into the future? To have a lively and vibrant future a church needs to have a vision for building something new.

During building of St Paul's Cathedral, Christopher Wren asked one of the stonemasons what he was doing. He replied that he was cutting a piece of stone. A second stonemason asked the same question, replied that he was cutting a piece of stone that would become a lintel to one of the arched windows. A third stonemason, busy cutting a similar size piece of stone, relied that he was building a cathedral.

Three people, three similar tasks, one had no vision beyond his task, one had only a very limited vision of his task, the third had a great vision that his task was an integral part of a new development. My provocative question is are you looking to ‘going back’ to church as it was, or do you have the vision to move forward and develop something new, even if that means significant changes? It is a hard question but it would be too easy not to ask it.

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