It is “the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints” (Col. 1:26; see also Rom.16:25 and Eph. 3:9). The vision is Jesus. The world would have us know a billion other things. The church would sometimes have us know many other things, as well. But those who have beheld the life-changing vision of our glorious Lord Jesus Christ know better.
Where there is no vision, the people perish . . .
— Proverbs 29:18 (KJV)
Proverbs 29:18 may be one of the most misapplied verses in all the evangelical church today. Many a church leader has used it to spiritualize his strategies and blackmail followers into supporting his entrepreneurialism. Vision statements are cast. Mission statements are crafted to serve the vision. A list of values is composed to serve the mission. An array of programs is developed to serve the values. A stable of leaders is recruited to serve the programs. An army of volunteers is inspired to assist the leaders.
Much of what goes on in our local churches serves to make sure the church machine keeps running. In less healthy—but sometimes very big—churches, the entire machine is designed to put on an excellent weekend worship service. All of this would indeed perish if that vision were not cast.
But what if a leader’s good idea for church growth or success was not the vision Proverbs 29:18 had in mind?