Here is 'The Messenger' downloable for free: February Magazine.
Dear brothers & sisters,
It has become fashionable in business circles for companies to have vision statements; something which tells everyone what they are for and where they are going. In the last twenty years the Church has begun to borrow aspects of modern business practice and vision statements are one of the better things which have been taken on. God tells us in the Scriptures ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish’ (Proverbs 29:18) and so it is helpful for all concerned if the Church, and indeed each parish, articulates a clear vision of where we are headed. This allows people to know what they are the parish is about, and is a useful yardstick in judging the activities of our church family; how well is any church activity supporting and, indeed, furthering the vision of the parish?
In one sense, you might think the vision of the Church, and therefore the parish, is clear and straight forward. God has told us His vision for His people is to ’go and make disciples of all nations’ (Matthew 28:19). Consequently, every parish ought to know what it is about; we’re to introduce people to Jesus, and to help those who choose to follow Him to do so more and more fully throughout their entire life. We’d be right, therefore, to ask how well is St George’s Parish Church fulfilling this primary aim? Do our services help people to get to know Jesus? How well do our PCC decisions support the discipling of Christians? How much do our social activities help Christians to grow, and do our social activities sign post ways for those who don’t know Jesus to get to know Him? This may seem basic, and frankly obvious; so why do we need a vision statement and why does our diocese make such a big deal about Vision2026? Well, because, the way that each church, and each diocese, fulfils the primary vision named above will vary from parish to parish, and from diocese to diocese. Each church community is slightly different to every other church community, and has different opportunities, as well as different skills within their church family. It would be of limited use for a rural parish to focus on working with students if the nearest university was 60 miles away; it would be of no use for a church in a university town to make a huge effort offering extensive Harvest Festivals if there wasn’t a farm, or farmers, within striking distance of their parish boundaries. Each and every parish must ask, ‘in what way can this parish, with the opportunities and people that it has, make disciples?’ The primary vision of Matthew 28 thus becomes refined into a vision for St George’s Parish Church in the 2020s, so that we, as a Christian community, can ensure that we’re making the most of where God has put us.
It is with this background in mind that your PCC (Church Council) will be spending time away in February, to think and pray, about how well our parish is serving God, and how we might improve our offering, so that more people in Chorley can meet Jesus, and be helped to follow Him. Please do pray for your PCC, the clergy, and the parish in general to be clear about what God would have us do, and the way He would have us do it. Pray that those in church leadership would be envisioned and then be able to envision others so that we might all play a great role in fulfilling the calling of God. ‘Where there is no vision, the people perish’ and so let’s pray that, led by God, we are clear on what His vision is for us, and then let’s get on and make it happen.