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Vision vs. Nostalgia

PLI is marking its 25th anniversary of training leaders to be healthier, better leaders for the sake of the mission of God. God wants His lost people found! And He invites us and His church to be ambassadors of that reconciliation!

Sadly, most churches don’t have a future vision that includes God’s mission! 

If I can be more personal… The leaders and people of your church probably don’t have a future vision that includes God’s mission! And that just can’t be! Right? 

You see, very few churches remember their past to create the future. Vision!

Most churches remember their past hoping to recreate the past. Nostalgia!

To be honest, nostalgia assumes a powerless posture in the face of enormous obstacles. It blames someone else, somewhere in the past, for today’s challenges. It’s easy. Not fun. Not inspiring. Not faith stretching. And not God honoring. It’s not something you’d give your life for, but it’s easy! 

That’s nostalgia. 

Vision remembers the past to create the future.

It’s not so easy. It’s Moses near the burning bush with the call to be the voice, the ambassador saying, “Let my people go.” It’s Moses standing there being asked to take an account! “Moses, what’s in your hand?” It was a staff—that God miraculously transformed into a serpent, a symbol that “Let my people go” was not just anyone’s words.

They were God’s words! Attached to a 400-year-old promise to rescue His people and redeem a Promised Land for them. And, the provision with which they would cross the Red Sea at the beginning and the Jordan River at the end. The words of God who was faithful to provide before, during and after. 

So, it’s strangely seared into my memory the days of being a young pastor where everything was someone else’s fault and the external forces around our old church left us feeling powerless and alone and not understood. Vision-less! And, yes, nostalgia ran deep and godly, faithful people filled my little mind with stories of “wanting to go back to Egypt where it was good.”

But, somewhere along the way, those folks stopped “longing to go back” and started “trusting to go forward.”

A Vision. 

If I’m guessing… there’s a word here for you (Yes, I know it’s not easy, but I’m not sure following Jesus into His mission was always intended to be easy!) And, it’s a word for a circle of your congregational leaders… so forward this to them. (You won’t make this turn without a group of leaders sensing some “urgency” in how they remember!)

And, my guess is that this is a word for a few of the other pastors in your community. You could simply forward this and say: PLI has helped me become a leader. I appreciate serving in this community with you. I thought you might find this encouraging.

I’ll take another week or two to add a few more words around this challenge. 

PLI is offering a workshop next month for you and a few of your leaders on CHANGE: Learning To Lead and Living to Tell About It, that will bring some practicalities to the challenge that’s in front of you and your congregation. The registration information is coming soon, so watch for that!

What do you think? 

I emailed a pastor last night who was in PLI when it started 25 years ago. He’s pressing through challenges like he’s never faced before. I simply said: “Thanks. I’m proud of you. The Mission needs more folks to lead with courage like you. Let me know if I can help.”

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