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About jonbirch

animator, illustrator, character designer, graphic designer. music producer/recording musician. co-owner of PROOST. proost.co.uk
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42 Responses to 799

  1. peterkershaw says:

    Sad but true in many churches. But I note that both the minister and all those who are thinking of their imprisonment are without eyes! And yet I’m sure that this minister could also be driving a bus containing the other half of his congregation, with smiles on their faces, happy that at last they have found a minister who shares their vision. A church will always contain a full spectrum of opinions about the minister, from those who hope he will stay until the day he retires to those who hope that he will be called to another parish tomorrow!

  2. chris says:

    What gets annoying is when people come to a church full knowing what the vision of the particular church is – disagree with it – but stay in the hopes that they can be the ones to change it into their own special thing…

  3. AnneDroid says:

    Yes, good point, Peter. Even the best of ministers can’t please all the people all the time, that’s for sure.

    I reckon there will be people in most congregations who are miserable because they’re not getting EVERYTHING all their own way, they’ve got a bad attitude and would be a thorn in the side of any minister – they wouldn’t be buying in to ANY vision. (I’ve seen lovely lovely ministers virtually destroyed by such individuals).

    But how tragic if – as Jon’s cartoon seems to suggest – everyone was miserable and feeling imprisoned and the minister was oblivious to it. Just awful.

  4. Tiggy says:

    Do people like to be going somewhere? I think this is a cultural thing. I don’t feel a need to be going anywhere – just being with God is enough. But then I’m half Asian and we’re good at just being. The idea that you have to be ‘going somewhere’ is a Western one and particularly Protestant. I think it’s even stronger in the US because they seem to be very purpose-driven.

  5. subo says:

    ‘good at just being’, that’s inspiring Tiggy, thanks

  6. subo says:

    It does often feel to me, that ‘leadership’, is seen as ‘making things happen’, ‘getting people on board’, ‘clarifying our ministry’, and yes, I’ve often felt crushed by this kind of approach to doing church.

    I think it’s fear that stops us from putting our adgenda’s aside, and listening to each other. have just read a great quote about this, so will try and find it for you

    thanks for the image jon

  7. miriworm says:

    Ah the latest band wagon1 :-)

  8. Laura says:

    I used to never understand the issues with vision in the church.
    Now I do.
    ‘Nuff said

  9. Graeme says:

    Love the idea of just being, but we have to be with a purpose! Our purpose is discipleship; discipleship in our own lives and leading others into discipleship as well. Surely anything less is not being faithful to the call of Jesus!

  10. beatthedrum says:

    Then leave that church and go to another one where the vision fits you……

  11. Carole says:

    Beatthedrum – that seems to be the logical step, but I think that in reality it can be a wrench to leave a community that you may have been a part of your whole life. Sadly our relations can be a whole lot more complex and disentangling yourself from the multitude of relationships formed is no easy task…or indeed maintaining those relationships. :(

  12. Carole says:

    Peterkershaw – yes, this is clearly a case of the blind leading the blind.

    Mind you, I’m not sure I would share his vision…presumably he is based in the seedy side of town since he appears to be taking delivery of a set of culturally relevant podium dancers! ;)

  13. beatthedrum says:

    It is hard or you could ask God to change YOUR heart so that you can be part of the vision in your current church…

  14. RockingRev says:

    This can be two sided coin. When I came to my present charge I had a picture of the Church’s vision from what was told to me by the vacancy group and the church profile that had been prepared by the church. To put it mildly, there were a number of “mistakes” so that the reality was very different to what I was told. I have now sat down with the whole leadership team and we have developed a vision together that we hope the church will buy into. I certainly do not admit anyone to membership now until I have explained what our vision is and asked them to decide if they are happy with this before they join.

  15. gilly says:

    it was for goingaroundbehindbars, that Christ has set us free?

  16. jonbirch says:

    you know, i’m really not sure that churches having ‘a vision’ is anything more than a western thing. like community is a business or something corporate, needing to go somewhere in order to feel good about itself, rather than just ‘being’. it doesn’t appear to be a biblical thing. people have visions and dreams and the church community can get behind them… groups’ll go off and do things… some will stay and do things. all good stuff… but churches having ‘a vision’ that everybody gets behind. nah, it’s daft. the churches’ only vision should be to be the church, a community of believers and the relational stuff that entails. i think often the other stuff is invented to keep everyone feeling like they’re doing something… it’s the soft option for leaders in many ways, choosing the easy way.

  17. jonbirch says:

    don’t get me wrong. i have visions and dreams, for my life and my work. and when others encourage or get involved it is a wonderful thing. that is sooo different to what i’m talking about above.
    projects and schemes etc. can be great and are often great, but it is not the churches’ role to be those things. it should encourage people in those things and embrace many sorts of different people doing many sorts of different things.

  18. RockingRev says:

    Ok Jon but what is daft about: Our vision is to be a Christian community sharing the love of Christ, reaching out to the people in this area and encouraging them to worship God and grow in the knowledge of the care and love of Christ.

  19. jonbirch says:

    rather than ‘them’ i’d probably say ‘each other’, i’d probably also say ‘living lives of worship’ (just to be sure we’re not talking about singing :-) )… but otherwise i think that’s fine… i wouldn’t call that a vision though, that should be the job of the church and it hasn’t changed over centuries.

  20. Pat says:

    Jon, I sort of agree and disagree simultaneously! But I think it’s probably more a terminology thing than anything else :-)

    I hate the whole ‘vision’ jargon and its associated buzzwords and phrases – vision statements, mission statements..you name it. And I resent all the hours one has sometimes to spend drawing up such things and arguing over the linguistic nuances :-( ; and in this respect, I think you are right – it’s probably as much about some elements of ncontemporary culture that we’ve sometimes unthinkingly bought into, rather than anything of lasting worth and benefit.

    Nevertheless, I do think it is probably necessary to have a ‘vision’ of some sort as a framework for our understandings of what ‘church’ might be – and to which we might aspire, both personally and communally (and for me it would be George MacCleods ‘chaos of uncalculating love’); which would seem to be where you’re going with your later comments @ 17.

    So i guess we’re actually ‘seeing’ in pretty much the same way here :-D

  21. jonbirch says:

    i think we do agree, pat.
    my use of the term ‘vision’ in the cartoon and my above comment is based on how i perceive the word to be generally used.
    i think to hold a vision of how we can better love god, one another etc… are good things, and without which, church, society, family, people throughout the world, all perish.
    this is so different to the vision agendas that i see set out in so many places inc. the church.

  22. jonbirch says:

    beatthedrum… i wonder what ‘vision’ people should ever leave their church over. if the vision is to love god, love your neighbour and an envisioning of how that might look, there should surely be no problem. often disagreements are to do with the use of a building or something of a similar nature… and i think most people fall out of/with church because the churches’ main function (of being christian community) is being overlooked in favour of projects, schemes and plans. btw… i’m not saying there’s anything wrong with projects schemes and plans, but rather they shouldn’t be the be all an end all in terms of defining christian community (church).

    did that make any sense at all? i’m thinking out loud. :-)

  23. jonbirch says:

    could someone help me make sense of what it is i’m actually trying to say… please. :-)

  24. Pat says:

    Jon – yes, I think we do too.

    The other sad thing about that sense of ‘vision’ which we both want to reject, and which comes out through assorted comments here, is that it can all too easily become the locus for a personal power struggle – and that’s a scenario which is almost inevitably hugely damaging at both individual and corporate level :-(

  25. Pat says:

    Jon @ 24, maybe it’s the difference between a transfigured ontological view of the world – seeing how something is really meant to be at its most foundational level; and a more expedient (which I don’t necessarily mean in a pejorative way here!)and functional view of the world?

    Which may not make it any clearer at all :lol:

  26. RockingRev says:

    “Where there is no vision the people perish.” That has to be a collective vision, of how best to live and be the Gospel in your particular time and culture. I have now ministered in three countries with three very different cultures and what worked in one will certainly not work in another. Even in my present charge there are two distinct cultures in the church because of a traditional industry that has died and a very large NATO base which brings in people from all over. Unless you can develop a common vision you end up with division and a whole mess or you end up not being able to reach one or other of these two very distinct groups.

  27. jonbirch says:

    “where there is no vision the people perish.” That has to be a collective vision, of how best to live and be the Gospel in your particular time and culture.” i would agree with that and everything else you wrote rockingrev. what you are talking about is exactly what i think the churches’ role is.

  28. danielg says:

    >> TIG: Do people like to be going somewhere? I think this is a cultural thing. I don’t feel a need to be going anywhere – just being with God is enough.

    Passion and compassion should ‘move’ us to want to accomplish the work of God. Eventually, we move from the foundational peace of knowing Christ (the self-centered but important foundational concern of a new believer) to the more mature ‘holy angst’ of love that Paul felt for people, the church, and Jesus when he said things like

    My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you
    (Galatians 4:19)

    besides the other things, what comes upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:28)

    Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:12-14)

    Of course, many people in church are urged towards service and concern for the lost without first having the peace of Christ, being freed from the obligations of the law. And even as mature believers, we need to make sure that we are motivated by concern for others, not the ‘oughts’ of the law, losing our peace.

    As Paul said:

    I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ (Philippians 3:8-9)

  29. danielg says:

    >>JON: i wonder what ‘vision’ people should ever leave their church over.

    I think it’s one of three things (at least)

    1. Method: Poor implementation of the vision, i.e. the leadership does not inspire people to follow, but drives them, or

    2. Wrong focus: they choose a poor goal, or 3

    2. Specificity: They either lack it with some ambiguous goal (to love people), or they are too narrow, or people leave because they just don’t like to commit themselves to something specific b/c their idea of church is merely “I come to be fed on Sundays.”

  30. Allatsea says:

    Why are they all still on the bus?

  31. Allatsea says:

    if indeed it is a bus :)

  32. beatthedrum says:

    The vision is the outworking of those things Jon especially corperately.

  33. chandy says:

    I don’t think journey is a Western thing. Abraham’s journeys, the Israelites wilderness sojourn and our identity as aliens and foreigners are all strong biblical images. And we can’t just be. A relationship always moves. Which is why a vision is important.

    And a vision needs specificity because we are all called to our communities. And it’s in discerning what the Holy Spirit is telling us today now is what will reveal that vision so that we can fulfill the vocation that we are called to.

    Love the image!

  34. chandy says:

    though I think the cage is around the driver as well

  35. I wd distinguish between a vision (good) and a strategy. Where there is no vision the people perish. But where there is no strategy for realising that vision the people stress out

  36. jonbirch says:

    chandy at 36… good point. :-)

    allatsea at 32… good question. no idea. :?:

    john at 37… still not sure i understand what vision is and why it’s positive in the context of being church. beyond the obvious and basic (yet still not got to grips with) themes of love, service, compassion, serving etc. hmmmm. :?:

  37. jonbirch says:

    chandy @ 35… life is a journey.

  38. BlackXanthus says:

    Just another thought: Perhaps it’s the only way that the Vicar can get the congregation moving. It is something that a lot of Vicars would *love* to do to their congregations, simply because it means they are moving!

    Here in the UK we suffer from “stagnant” congregations, which become “unwelcoming”. Especially in the area that I come from, prising the Old 1984 book from the congregation will be over many, many dead bodies. The Problem with this is that the congregation ages, less is able to be done, and there’s no new people coming in. This causes all sorts of problems, lack of money for the quota, lack of people to help out at Fates and other money-raising ideas, no people to help with the other works the church is involved in, or wants to become involved in.

    It’s amazing what the PCC will argue about, like the colour of the new carpet that it has to be a certain kind of beige, or that you can’t move the back pew for disabled access because Mrs. Jones has ALWAYS sat there. (The pews debate seems to be a typically Anglican thing).

    The point of the “Vison” is to unify action. People are meant to feel happier knowing WHY they are doing such-and-such. Why they are always being asked to bring donations of food (for the homeless shelter), etc. The Church is trying desperately to modernise, but it seems that in most cases the congregations are happy to stay right where they are. This can often lead to dwindling congregations as the younger generations imply “don’t get” the old style of worship, which eventually leads to the Parish looking at merger, or worse, closure. Perhaps this Vicar is doing this out of desperate love for his congregation.

    Just a thought.


  39. jonbirch says:

    pews, i’m sorry to say, are not just an anglican problem. years ago i was attending a baptist church. my uncle and i decided it’d be a great idea to rope off the back pews, meaning everyone would have to sit further forward (meaning they could both see and hear, oft heard complaints). needless to say, some people were very cross with us indeed. but it lives on in my memory as something i enjoyed and perhaps was worth doing. who knows. :-)

  40. Patrick O says:

    The trouble with “vision” is that the Spirit works within a body. Christ is the head, and the Spirit gives the vision to all. A lead minister, however, can tap into this vision the Spirit has given to all, or he/she can impose their own particular fragment of the vision on everyone. The pastor can try to be the Spirit to people by assigning roles and duties and goals. Only pastors don’t actually have any power to give or to maintain. So, rather than freedom, there’s constraint, and rather than renewed life there’s increased frustration. All while a pastor gets applauded by others for trying to impose a vision on all the discontents.

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