2030 Vision

What do we want Glynwood Baptist Church to look like by the year 2030?

Where there is no vision, the people perish (Proverbs 29:18, KJV)

Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint (Proverbs 29:18, ESV)

Where there is no prophetic vision the people are discouraged (Proverbs 29:18, ESV, alternate translation in footnote)

eye patchBlame it on the eyepatch. Vision (or the lack of it) has been on my mind a lot lately. Ever since last Wednesday, when I left the office for lunch and immediately saw all these black specks, floaters, cobwebs, and hairballs in my field of vision, I’ve been thinking a lot about vision. What if I lose it? Even after the laser surgery to repair the torn retina, I’ve been worried that the cloudiness in my left eye might not clear up? What if I have to wear this silly eye patch long term? How long will Glynwood tolerate a pastor who looks like an extra for Pirates of the Caribbean?

In fairness to you guys, you’ve been incredibly kind and patient, and after the first week, the pirate jokes have been kept to a minimum (for the last time, Jeff Williams, I’m not getting a parrot!!!).

Without the eye patch, things still look cloudy and muddy when I am looking though both eyes. With the eye patch, I can see clearly, but I lose depth perception. I can’t accurately judge how far something is ahead of me. I lose track of what may be coming up behind me. And I have a hard time taking hold of and grasping what is directly in front of me (just ask Stacey what it was like watching me try to use a staple remover on a document the other day. Picture the Claw game at Chuck E Cheese).

All of this was on my mind the other day when I wrote a simple, two-word phrase in my journal:

2030 VISION

I stared at it with my one good eye, and then, during our staff meeting, I wrote it again on the whiteboard in our conference room:

2030 VISION

To clarify: this is not the result of my latest eye test. It’s a question. It’s a challenge. It’s the start of a discussion:

What do we want Glynwood Baptist Church to look like by the year 2030? What is our vision for the church 12 years from now? 

Early in 2019, I plan to assemble a group of people who can help answer this question. The team will have members of the generation that built Glynwood, so we can have an accurate view of what’s behind us. It will include members of the next generation who can help us accurately see what’s ahead of us. And it will include strategic thinkers who can help us figure out the steps to get there.

We need a long range plan.As Proverbs 29:18 says in all its various translations, without vision people are unrestrained. We find ourselves running in lots of different directions without a compelling focus toward one direction. Without vision, we will be discouraged. And ultimately, without vision, we will lose our ability to influence and impact Prattville.

But, with vision, we can not only see what’s ahead of us, but we can also take hold of the opportunities that are directly in front of us. A “2030 Vision” will not only help us see clearly, but it will help us see with depth perception.

I want you to know that I love being your pastor. I am so excited for what the Lord is doing right now, and I anticipate with awestruck wonder what He will in the future.

Joy in the Journey,

James

Review of “Messy Grace” by Caleb Kaltenbach

Messy Grace: How a Pastor with Gay Parents Learned to Love Others Without Sacrificing ConvictionMessy Grace: How a Pastor with Gay Parents Learned to Love Others Without Sacrificing Conviction by Caleb Kaltenbach

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This was a challenging book for me as a conservative pastor. I appreciate Caleb’s story, and I am thankful for his testimony. And it isn’t that I have a problem with loving members of the LGBT community without sacrificing conviction. It’s that I haven’t figured out how to do it yet in a way that they will believe I am actually loving them.

I know all about “hate the sin, love the sinner.” Let’s not go there, because most of my gay friends have a hard time believing I love them if I call who they are a sin. Sexuality is so wrapped up in identity that they literally cannot hear me say, “I love you, but I don’t love what you are doing.” Caleb does a better job with this than anyone I’ve read who takes the Bible at face value (without trying to make the argument that the Bible doesn’t really mean what we’ve translated it to mean when it condemns same sex behavior). In fairness to the author, that is beyond the scope of his book. He is simply telling his story, and its a story conservatives need to hear. But we have to figure out how to engage in compassionate dialogue when we disagree on whether or not something is a sin. For me, it’s like trying to have a conversation with someone who is absolutely convinced their gossiping is really just sharing prayer requests, or that their bigotry is really just a desire to preserve their southern heritage. I can love them, I can accept them, I can plead with them to change their minds, but if they don’t see as sinful what I believe the Bible calls sinful, we get to the end of our conversation very quickly.

And when we are talking about someone’s sexuality, it becomes an attack on a whole different level. Calling out gossiping or bigotry is calling out behavior. Calling out homosexuality, from the perspective of the gay or lesbian, is calling out identity.

The most helpful line in Caleb’s book is that “God doesn’t call us to make gay people straight. He calls us to help lost people be found by Jesus.” Everything else is up to the sanctifying work of Christ. My prayer is that our churches will give all sinners a refuge and a haven for that sanctifying work to be done. And I fear the door won’t be open (or even if it is, that members of the LGBT community will never walk through it) if we don’t agree on what is sin and what isn’t.

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