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Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. Jeremiah 23:16
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Covenant Life Church (CLC) in Maryland which recently severed ties with Sovereign Grace Ministries has posted a job opening for Executive Director. The job description is posted here. I took a screenshot below and highlighted the area which left me with some questions.
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I saw a dream that made me afraid. As I lay in bed the fancies and the visions of my head alarmed me. Daniel 4:5
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What is vision-casting? I am not familiar with this term. To be honest, it sounds a bit like I need to be riding a broom and wear a pointy black hat. So I went a-searchin’.
The article, Vision Casting To . . . Yourself, was written by Jennie Catron connected with Willow Creek Association who seems to embrace the idea about vision-casting for church leaders, but extends casting visions for yourself (please take note that Ms. Catron’s title is Executive Director, same as the job opening at CLC):
By Jenni Catron, Executive Director of Cross Point Church in Nashville
If you’re a leader, you understand the importance of vision casting. You frequently have to remind those you lead why they do what they do. You remind them of how every task, no matter how seemingly insignificant, ties back to the vision of your church or organization. It’s leadership 101.
You’ve likely worked hard to develop the skill of vision casting. Great leaders are masters of this art.
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And it shall come to pass afterward,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
your old men shall dream dreams,
and your young men shall see visions. Joel 2:28
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Going to the other side of the spectrum on this topic, the video below features John MacArthur, pastor of Grace Community Church. When Covenant Life Church was still part of Sovereign Grace Ministries (SGM), its then president, C.J. Mahaney, spoke along with John MacArthur at various conferences and even on-site at Grace Community at the Shepherds’ Conference.
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The 2:21 minute video is well worth watching and gives a different perspective. I’ve transcribed the last part of the video which seemed to sum up MacArthur’s primary thoughts on vision-casting:
. . . But the church is not something I can plan. Somebody said to me many years ago, “Do you have a desire to build the church?”
And i said actually, I have no desire to build the church since Jesus said He would build the church and I really don’t want to compete with Him. It’s His church.
I am much more concerned about being the pastor in charge of faithfulness and truthfulness than I am the pastor in charge of vision. Since I don’t know what the future is, I don’t know what God has for the future, but I do know what is revealed in His word. And I do know he has called me to be faithful and obedient to that. So, I think what we need to think about is not trying to figure out the future, but being faithful in the present, and then plan wisely for the future.
Richard Krejcir, evangelical Christian pastor, author, speaker and researcher, wrote an article, How to Develop and Cast Your Vision and his use of the term of “casting vision” could easily be replaced with a common church’s mission statement:
A vision is the comprehensive statement that tells the leaders of the organization what direction they should move, and what they should accomplish so they can motivate the people under them. The church should be and strive toward a preferred future, not just to a dream!
Later, he discusses reading passage in Nehemiah and suggests to compare the church’s vision with Nehemiah’s. I really don’t see anything in this article that sounds off. Mission statements are not suspect to me. I’ve seen families have a sort of mission statement, some adopting a particular Bible verse for their family’s motto, ie, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord”. A vision statement can give the church a common focus and direction.
But the next subtitle in the same article had me adjusting my pointy black hat: Casting that Vision. I don’t know about you, but I find it strange to adopt witchy wording for something church-related. By the way, did you know that the word “webweaving” is wiccan terminology? I did not see this term used in association with vision-casting, but it sure could fit:
WEBWEAVING: Networking with other magickal people through conversation, in writing, or by computer to gather information to mutually assist each other in their studies and life goals.
And finally, here is some more on vision-casting from someone connected with Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, J. D. Payne:
J. D. Payne is a National Missionary with the North American Mission Board and serves as an Assistant Professor of Evangelism and Church Planting at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
The focus of vision-casting in Payne’s article is different from the others mentioned. His primary focus is church growth: “The Art of Vision Casting for Church Multiplication.”
He begins by mentioning people in the Bible who were visionaries: Abraham, Moses, Noah, Jonah, Nehemiah, the magi.
He then quotes Aubrey Malphurs, and so I
said a few incantations magically found him on Google. Presto!
The Malphurs Group was founded by Dr. Aubrey Malphurs. Aubrey is a prolific and award-winning author of more than 20 books, with titles focusing on topics such as strategic planning, leadership development, church planting and organizational strategies. In addition to being the inspirational leader of the organization, Aubrey is a Senior Professor of Leadership and Pastoral Ministry at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas.
At this point, the article’s tone changes. I have not been in the corporate world for 26-1/2 yrs, but it smelled business-y, not church-y. I read “biblical” in the article, but the vision-casting references in this article seems to be primarily promoting church/church growth as a business – – as if we have control over the hearts that God is softening? I don’t know, it just seems odd to be strategically planning for the growth of a church. How can someone guess and plan on the numbers of people who will be coming to church in the future?
Here we read about trying to sell the vision to the church. Again, just take a business growth plan and add church-y words like “pray” or “grace” and that makes it more tasteful for church:
Just as the Lord was gracious to allow you to have the time to mull over the vision for multiplication, likewise you need to extend the grace to the people and allow them the time to reflect, discuss, and pray over the vision that you set before them. It is unfair and selfish to have grasped the vision over a period of weeks, months, or even years, and then expect others to grasp the vision within minutes or hours.
This part sounds like a used cars salesman to me. Seek to find the common ground of the people you are dealing with and then use that common ground to achieve your goal:
Understand what “Communicates” with Your People
Second, understand the people to whom the vision is being cast. Who are these people? What do they like and dislike? What are their educational levels? What are their backgrounds? An intimate knowledge of the people provides the vision caster with a better foundation on which to contextualize the vision for the people.
This next excerpt surprised me. I know that the president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Albert Mohler, has had some run-ins with Rick Warren, author of Purpose-Driven Church. Remember, Mr. Payne is a professor at SBTS and the Purpose-Driven Church model is quite controversial. There are multitudes of blogs, reviews, articles and articles, and videos dedicated to expose heretical teachings from this book. Here is the quote mentioning Warren and his vision from the Purpose-Driven Church book:
Communicate the Vision Redundantly
A fifth step in the vision casting process is to communicate the vision redundantly. Rick Warren recommends restating the vision every twenty-six days. Begin with the church’s leadership. If the leaders of the church are not behind the vision and willing to work to fulfill the vision, then it is highly unlikely that the rest of the church will be supportive of the vision. As much as possible, keep the vision before the leaders and equip them to keep the vision before the rest of the church. Develop creative ways to communicate the vision to the leadership and the entire church.
So, in summary, the term vision-casting does not always have the same scope or purpose. If I were a congregant at CLC, I would feel the need to get more information on how church leaders are defining the word. Vision-casting could simply be proposing a theme or mission statement for a church so that the church body has an understanding of the church’s primary focus. Or vision-casting can be a concerted business plan for church growth.
A side note, there has been a song going on in my head ever since typing the word “witchy.” I feel the need to share it with you and maybe it will finally leave my head.
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Oh, a quick warning – – – and I very well my lose some readers in a hurry – – I may in fact be a vision caster. I am not certain, but there has been at least one person who has proclaimed me to be a chief prophetess and a visionary:
“Julie Anne Smith has emerged as the chief prophetess, voice, and visionary of the cyberbullying group. She is charting out a grassroots plan to unleash destruction everywhere.” ~Pastor Chuck O’Neal, Beaverton Grace Bible Church
Is a chief prophetess a witch? I’m unclear. I highly suspect I will get to add the “witchy woman” name to my Sticks and Stones list shortly after this post.
If any of you would like to channel your responses to the blog, I will deposit them in my cauldron for discussion. Let’s talk 🙂
I’m sorry, I can’t resist this last one:
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Forward to 00:50 for the action.
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Related links: John Piper is a visionary!