Where There is No Vision Statement, the People Cast off Restraint; But Happy is He who Keeps the Vision Statement

I came across an article stating 5 Signs You’re Part of an Unhealthy Church, and naturally I had to read it. But not for long. The very first statement the writer made showed me clearly there was no point in continuing my reading. The first statement:

1. Leadership Does Not Have Clear Vision. The author used Proverbs 29:18 for her proof text. Where there is no vision, the people perish. (Sarcasm Alert) Now we know! This is the reason the church has been so messed up for 2,000 years! The church failed to come up with a vision statement! Yes, the apostles failed in giving us what we needed for the church to succeed: a vision statement. O, how the apostle Paul misled us. We could have been so much better off disregarding sound doctrine, if he had just told us we need a vision statement. That is the silver bullet the church needs.

On a more serious note, this kind of thinking is truly dangerous for several reasons. First, the writer is applying 21st Century business models to the church. If you run a business, using a business model is great and so is having a vision statement. A company that knows what they want to produce and how, is much better off than one that just sort of exists.

However, the church is not a business. It is more of an organism. We are not in the business of producing anything. The assumption that we are able to produce something is dangerous. We think that if we have the right speakers, the right conference, the right programs that we can produce the right type of person.

However this goes against the biblical teaching that God is the one that causes the growth in the believer. The most we can do is water and plant seeds. This means that there may be great periods of time in which we see very little in the way of a harvest. And there may be times where we see a great harvest. But that harvest comes at the hand of the Holy Spirit, not because of us. Our call is to be faithful in preaching and teaching the word of God. God brings about the results in His timing, not ours. It is not our job into molding and shaping our congregation into some false image we have conjured up for the body of Christ. If we do that, we will certainly have an unhealthy church.

Secondly, the above interpretation is destroying the meaning of the proverb. Let’s look at the NKJV translation: Proverbs 29:18 Where there is no revelation,[a] the people cast off restraint; But happy is he who keeps the law.

This verse has nothing to do with our modern-day vision statements and everything to do with God’s word. The people who do not have the word of God, will cast off all restraint and pursue their own lustful desires. This verse is showing the importance of God’s word in the life of the believer, the church and society. To reduce revelation to a mere statement of vision is truly a corruption of God’s word. No where are told to do such. No where are we told to make the church into a business. This is using worldly wisdom for God’s people, and I believe He will have none of it.

Yes, we need to take the Proverb seriously. But we don’t need to have vision statements for the church to be healthy. In fact, the verse seems to be saying what we need for happiness is God’s word, not vision statements. This is why faithful preaching and teaching are so necessary. The people need God’s word, and His restraint for our lives. Listening to Him, and His LAW, leads to true happiness and a truly healthy church.

Not some modern invention. In fact, most people who say the church needs vision statements, usually have something to sell the church. This should be a clear warning about the danger of vision statements.

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4 thoughts on “Where There is No Vision Statement, the People Cast off Restraint; But Happy is He who Keeps the Vision Statement

  1. Pingback: Where There Is No Vision Statement, the People Cast Off Restraint; But Happy Is He who Keeps the Vision Statement

  2. Russell St. John

    Dear Brother,

    I have read and appreciate your blogs, especially as they appear on the Aquila Report. I am not sure, however, that you have hit this nail on the head. I’ve always agreed that the church is more than a human institution, but surely it is not less than a human institution, and as such will in some sense function accordingly. Certainly we ought not to base our ministries on business models, much less on faulty readings of a Proverb, but ought we to toss the baby out with the bathwater? I too believe that we can only water and sow; God must grant the increase, but cannot a church have an idea of the particular fields it is called to sow, or how it intends to water the seeds it plants? Even if you embrace a means of grace model of ministry–which hopefully all Reformed folks do–the explication of such a model is itself a statement of vision, which gives a sense of purpose and direction to the “church as human institution” side of the equation. It delimits for the congregation that which we are going to do, and why it is that we are not going to chase after every evangelical fad or methodology.

    My point is simply to suggest that rather than taking an either/ or approach to the idea of presenting a coherent vision or philosophy of ministry for your congregation over against simply saying, “We plant and water,” you instead embrace a both/ and approach, doing the work of planting and watering, AND laying out for your people how that biblical work is the vision for your church. I think that even Paul did that for the Corinthians in telling them why he was never going to be like others who came to them with eloquence and emotional manipulation and tricks; he came to them with Christ crucified, and that is a vision statement grounded in theology. Theology has legs; it takes you places. Can we not tell our congregation our theology, and then also tell them where we expect that theology to lead them? I think that if we do so, we have de facto made a statement of vision.

    In any case, that’s my two cents’ worth! I appreciate you, brother!

    Warmest regards,

    Russ

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    1. Hi Russ,
      Your point is well taken. I think the gist of my post is that the author of the original post named this as their number one way to tell weather or not a church is healthy. It’s built on a false understanding of the Proverb and far to many spend way too much time on such a thing and then never look at it again. That has been my experience. I think my main beef is the twisting of Scripture in order to thrust something on the church that should be point 35 or so at best on what to look for in a healthy church. Not the first point. Sorry that I missed the nail. I guess my carpenter skills are shining through.
      Blessings
      Timothy

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  3. Pingback: A Rebuttal Of My Post on Vision Statements | Timothy J. Hammons

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