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Beyond Day to Day: Visioning

Lately I've been struggling with what I expect is a typical pastoral dilemma. There are so many things I think about us doing together as a congregation long term, so many visions I have, so many things that float through my mind as possibilities for our direction together. We struggle with lots of typical issues, but we also have lots of potential for growth, discipleship, social change, etc...

But, when it comes down to it, I spend so much of my week just taking care of the 'regular business' of being a pastor. Writing a sermon. Preparing for the worship service. Leading the worship service. Meetings. Sunday School. Seasonal plans. Meetings. Statistical tables. Visitation. Meetings. District/Conference obligations. Planning baptisms, weddings, funerals. Even occasionally reading a great book about things I'd like to be doing in my congregation.

How do you move beyond the things that just have to get done every week to carve out time for thinking on a grander scheme? I relate to my brother's recent post about the plans we make with our time and what we actually end up doing, except without the cute kid to make my lack of action seem quite so valuable.

How do you make time for going beyond the day to day life of the church? Do you think it is necessary to have a 'bigger picture' plan in ministry? Maybe if what I was involved in doing day to day seemed more like really being in ministry, really responding to God's call on my life, and less, sometimes, like checking boxes of things to do that aren't essentially of critical importance, maybe then I would think living day to day was all we needed to do. After all, I'm pretty sure Jesus said something about not worrying about tomorrow so much.

On the other hand (and there is always the other hand, isn't there?) - this Lent we've been using songs from the musical The Lion King each week to talk about Jesus' journey to the cross. Up this week? "Hakuna Matata." "No worries." I find myself writing a sermon that contrasts the motto "hakuna matata" with a woman ready to receive living water. The characters in The Lion King use their claim of "no worries" to run away from responsibility. Jesus tells us in this passage, though, that true life-sustaining food is found in "do[ing] the will of [God] who sent me and [completing God's] work." Not worrying doesn't mean not doing either.

How do we find balance? How do you handle the day to day necessities of ministry (which, to clarify, can be extremely rewarding in themselves) with your hopes for the future?

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Anonymous said…
I really wish there was a good answer for that. I spent most of last night finalizing one of those check marks...the statistical reports.

It seems as if the long term vision always is what is pushed aside as we deal with the day to day.

One bit of grace though that I continue to hold on to is that it is in those day to day moments that we truly can minister just as God has called us to. I feel the grace of God in those moments very powerfully.

Yet I often feel the frustration born into the system we are in and just the lack of time I can peel away for the long term stuff.

Answers? I wish I had some.
Kim said…
I don't know the answer to your question; I wish I did. I'm not a pastor -- I'm my church's lay leader. We're currently in the middle of a visioning process.

What I thought was surprising, when we went through Natural Church Development last year was that many people said, "we don't have a vision." I really didn't expect that response. And now that we are presenting the results of the discernment process to the congregation, there is a new excitement that wasn't there before. It's wonderful.

Now can we take this and move toward God's vision for us? I don't know. I hope so. I pray so.

One difference in our church that I have noticed in the past three years or so is an increased involvement of laity in ministry. Maybe that's the key? But as I said, I just don't know.
Anonymous said…
Balance is a funny thing. Often we try to balance more than our scales can hold. If you feel called to vision you should try to find time away and then find time in your schedule to cast the vision. Essentially, you'd need to build that into you schedule and find some people to do some of the other stuff.

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