What I would ask is that you put your pen to paper or tickle the ivories of your keyboard and dream a little dream. Write about the Cathedrals we should be building. Describe your vision of what your church and community should striving for across the generations. What do you want the church look like or have accomplished in over the next three generations? What would you wish your Church (big or small "c") to have accomplished by the turn of the next century, which you hope to endure? [See P-P's Roundup here]
I like the concept in P-P's challenge regarding the "big-vision." I like to think big and long-range ... though I don't like the trouble it gets me into with the WADIT (We've Always Done It This-way) crowd, the WUTUR (Who do U Think U R?) and the YAJE (You Are Just Envious) elitists.
The WADITs visualize the future in light of the past; sort of a "let's check with history and see if it's ever been done before." The WUTURs seem to believe only the privileged or credentialed can visualize. And the YAJE don't really want to look into the problem because a.) they're fat and happy and b.) because they might find out they're wrong.
I once preached a sermon on God’s challenge to Abram (“How Big Is Your God?” I’ll post it on my Sermons blog later ) to go up to a mountain top and to get a vision for God’s plan for the Promise Land. Abram, being mortal, scanned horizontally and temporally and caught just a glimpse of God’s tactical plan for the future of Abram’s promised nation. What Abram didn’t yet understand or see was God’s strategic vision was vertical and eternal.
Now, considering P-P’s challenge; a lot depends on what is meant by “cathedral” and the specific intent of the challenge.
- I understand the challenge to be – what will bring a “lost and wandering” church back to where she’s supposed to be?
- I understand cathedral to symbolize some great movement of God in and through man which will inspire generations, for generations.
If I’m off base, well … tough!
I recall the story of a family visiting a famous cathedral in France; the wife asked the tour guide, “Does anyone know how many souls have been saved in this magnificent place?” The haughty guide, as only the French can be, said, “Madam, this is a cathedral not a rescue mission!”
And so we must have perspective when discussing things temporal and things eternal.
Remember, Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world.” And for context, remember the teaching of Peter and Paul regarding our being the temple of God [1 Peter 2:4-10; 2 Corinthians 6:16]; and remember that the temple is being built up with gold, silver, and precious stones not wood, hay, or stubble [1 Corinthians 3:11-13].
Whatever God is going to do it is going to be by reviving the inner man not the outer man. The works of the outer man are temporal and will rust and decay; but the works of the inner man, in the hands of the Master Potter, will build cathedrals for God’s pleasure and glory, and will not rust or decay.
My vision is of a global Christian community without walls, much like that illustrated in LaHaye and Jenkin’s Left Behind series. A community in communication, yet not physically, which comes together for authentic (spirit & truth; John 4:23) worship, whose chief end is to glorify God in heaven, not man on earth; and whose real daily mission is to bear the cross they’ve been dealt [Luke 9:23], to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness [Matthew 6:33] with the purpose of seeking and saving the lost [Luke 19:10].
Far too many in Christian ministry go from knowing they’re just a brush or pallet knife in the Creator’s hand to actually believing they’ve created the work of art before them.
John at Blogotional said, “Jesus said that He would build His church on a person and He commissioned us to make people into disciples.” That person is Christ the Rock and we are making disciples so God can make them into the building blocks of His eternal temple in glory [1 Peter 2:4-10].
As a corporate planner in the Silicon Valley, I was trained to visualize the future in conceptual constructs: a strategic objective was “an achievable desired future state or condition,” a goal was “a well-defined point in time,” a milestone was “a major goal which, if not accomplished on time and within budget, could severely affect the outcome of the strategic plan,” and a plan was “something to deviate from, within well-defined strategic limits.”
Though working for God is greatly different than working for a corporation, the conceptual construct is the same.
I believe the mega-barn movement is contra-productive: it concentrates God’s resources inside fortress walls, creating the unintended consequence of a fragmented body of Christ … the haves and the have-nots; it projects a false image of wellness (in the same way walled cities of old projected images of strength and invulnerability, while the nation itself was sick to the core because the people were weak and vulnerable); and it misses the reality of declining church growth in our wealthy western communities contrasted with the reality of phenomenal growth in poor underdeveloped and third-world communities.
I’ll have more to say on this at another time.
See my other posts on the Church here and here.