Following the first generation of a congregation, vision must be recast, renewed, and re-owned every seven years.
A great challenge for congregations is that their founding vision from God begins to wane in its effectiveness years before the congregation both realizes it and is willing to do something about it.
When God’s empowering vision begins to wane at the end of their first generation, congregations may do several things. Deny it. Try harder. Yearn to return to be the congregation they were during their early years. Look for a new programmatic fix. Blame the pastor and staff. Focus on quality rather than quantity. Become victim of the cut-back syndrome when finances get tight.
None of these attitudes or activities recast or help congregations re-own God’s empowering vision for them. Plus, they create a contentious, debating culture that may involve not only decline but also dysfunction.
What congregations need to learn is that at the end of their first generation of life they need to recast, renew, and re-own God’s empowering vision for them, or they will become an aging, declining, and perhaps dysfunctional congregation.
Way too many congregations become one-generation congregations who have a founding vision, live it out for a generation, and never have a new or renewed vision again. They go from fix to fix with periodic years of progress, but many years without progress.
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