Magazine article Anglican Journal

Vision 2019: Where's the Beef?

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Vision 2019: Where's the Beef?

Article excerpt

Where there is no vision, the people perish.

--Proverbs 29:18

I LOVE A PARADE as much as the next person. If nothing else, it serves as a distraction from the cares and worries of everyday life. But what if the parade were marching down the centre aisle of your beloved church, and when you looked more closely, all you saw was ... well ... the same old parade? Same as last year, and the year before that and the decade before that. Would you really care to watch anymore?

The Anglican Church of Canada appears to have high hopes for Vision 2019. At least we are referencing it a lot as a document that will guide us into the future. And certainly much care has been taken to craft it.

Two years ago, the work of setting out a strategic plan for the church's work from 2010 to 2019 was mandated by a resolution at the November 2007 meeting of the Council of General Synod (CoGS). Subsequently, the Vision 2019 committee, a group of volunteers who bravely took on the task, began by asking everyday Anglicans across the country about their hopes and dreams for the church.

From February to October 2009, Canadian Anglicans sent in emails, voice messages, letters and videos answering the question, "Where is your church now, and where do you want the Anglican Church of Canada to be by 2019?" In all, 1,009 people responded, a tiny sample given the total number of people in the church. However, the responses were passionate, articulate and engaged, and they came from all quarters: conservatives, liberals, young and old alike.

With the help of a consultant, the responses were analyzed, synthesized and then carefully assembled into a document that was presented to CoGS last November. Thud.

It's too vague, cried delegates to CoGS as one member after another stood to express his or her dismay at the report's lack of substance. Vision 2019 doesn't go far enough, they said. It doesn't have anything new to say.

The Vision 2019 committee went back to work. This time, they surveyed stakeholders--clergy, lay leaders, committee members, governance groups and many many others. Vision 2019 was once again painstakingly written, theologically referenced and set before CoGS. After its presentation, the Vision 2019 committee received a standing ovation.

Certainly, the Vision 2019 committee is to be applauded for the tremendous job it did sorting through all the input and information and presenting the research in a thoughtful and highly polished way. But even with the best of intentions, Vision 2019 falls short of providing a prophetic vision for the church.

In spite of all the rhetoric, all the time and energy invested, we have failed to dream outside the box. Where are the new ways of doing church? What are they and how will we embrace them? We have given lip service to notions of becoming missional with no clear direction for how to do so.

What we need to see in Vision 2019 is the kind of fire-in-the-belly passion that will inspire the average person to be part of our church and to support our mission. Where is our strategy for reaching the secular world, the unchurched, the spiritually hungry? How will Vision 2019 bring us closer to finding Jesus in ordinary Canadians and walking with them? …

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