Let me ask some serious questions! How do you envision the congregation where you worship in ten years? Do you think that the number of members will be more or less than now? What about young people? Do you think that there will be any youth that are interested in learning and obeying God’s Word? How about Bible school classes? Will there be enough teachers willing to do the work? How about the preacher? Will the congregation still be wanting sound doctrine, or will the congregation clamor for a more “liberalminded” person in the pulpit? Will there be men willing and able to lead in worship? How about the elders? Will there even be any elders in ten years? If so, will they be truly qualified and willing to oversee the congregation? All of these questions are worthy of consideration. Each member of the church should understand the need to help the future be bright and strong.
Long ago, a very wise man wrote “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he” (Prov. 29:18). The hard truth is that unless we start planning and working now, the future may very well be bleak for some. More and more congregations are suffering and dwindling. Some are barely able to do the work that needs to be done. Some have even stopped meeting regularly due to lack of interest and participation. If things are already this bad now, what will be the situation in ten more years? We desperately need strong, determined and faithful local leaders in the church of Christ. Elders have the great responsibility of shepherding the Lord’s flock. They are entrusted by the Lord to make sure that local congregations are fed, led and kept from dead (1 Pet. 5:1-3). With that being said, elders need to be “visionaries”. They need to be able to plan, prepare and implement for the future.
Just think about it, Noah did not wait for the flood to begin before building the ark. Instead, he did what was necessary so that he and his family would be ready for the future (Gen. 6:22). If elders want to see growth, both spiritually and numerically, they must be able to see the forest instead of just the trees! They cannot allow the negative things around them to hinder the needs of the congregation. With adequate “vision”, elders are able to see what the future of a congregation can be if proper work is done. The need for “vision” does not rest solely on the shoulders of elders though. Each Christian should be diligently working to help the church of today and the church of the future. Where do we see our families in ten years? Will our spouses be active and faithful in the work of the local congregation? Will our children have grown and become Christians themselves? Will I have helped to train a future song leader? Will I have encouraged a young man to preach the Gospel? Will I have taught a young lady the ways that God expects a Christian lady to be?
All of those things are needed for local congregations to be thriving in ten years. Without “vision”, how much will really be done? There is a saying that has been around for a long time. It is not grammatically correct, but the point is easily understood. “Can’t never could do nothing!” If we convince ourselves that works cannot be done, then likely they will not happen. What if Noah had decided that the building of the ark was just too much for him to do? What if he had said that he and his family were too small to undertake such a monumental task? Thankfully, Noah had the “vision” to see what could be done. Local congregations need that same mentality! Henry Ford is credited with saying, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you are right”. The idea is that our mindsets (“vision”, or lack thereof) are of great importance for the future. Can we “see” the church thriving in ten years, or have we become so “blind” that we have convinced ourselves that things will get worse?
~ Corey Barnette