Asbury UMC Moves from Coasting to Making a Difference

Restarting the Conversation for Long-range Vision

When it comes to vision statements, many church leaders have lost interest. And for good reason–most vision statements are generic and useless. I like to say that your church really doesn’t need a vision statement, it needs a visionary state of mind. Yet, there needs to be a way to cultivate that state of mind. Your team does need some ideas on paper to become a sort of “mental charging station” for themselves and other leaders.  Think of a vivid vision statement as “base camp” for the team to assemble around, in order to take “vision casting treks” and “meaning excursions” all day long; that is the daily work of ministry.

So how do you get this vision thing right? What does success look like?  I answer the question for you in my new book God Dreams. More than that, I created a step-by-step guide for church teams.

To inspire you along the way, here is a case study from Asbury United Methodist Church in Raleigh, NC, led by Terry Bryant. Before we jump into their “Coasting or Difference Making?” vision, let’s clarify what it is we are looking at.

First, it is a vivid description example of a long-range vision or what I call a “beyond-the-horizon” vision. Many have abandoned thinking long as discipline as a result of the constant changes of culture and technology. But for the church, there are many foundational reasons why leadership should think long-range. Here are twelve of them.

Second, it is only one fourth of what you need to have a complete visionary plan. This is the start – the long-range context to visionary plan. There are three other horizons to develop and the plan is eventually anchored in four immediate action initiatives in the next 90 days. To see the model for visionary planning check out how the Horizon Storyline works.

Asbury’s Vision: Coasting or Difference Making?

Summary: In the next five years, every person who calls our church home will be linking arms in difference-making relationships. We will focus efforts on two needs—hunger and education—in the three concentric-circle ministry areas (in the geography of Acts 1:8).

We live in a highly educated, thriving, and dynamic culture in North Raleigh. What we experience far too often is that while we are constantly busy, we often feel like we are coasting through life. We always have stuff to do but seldom feel like we are making a difference. So we will move from coasting to engaging gears, moving past meaningless self-centered activity and accelerating new and practical ways of living out our faith. We will be salt and light to our neighbors (Matt. 5:13–16).

Strengthened through our common worship and group engagement, we intend to be difference makers in our local community and world through two key areas of focus: First, being on mission to end hunger, recognizing the call of our Lord, “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat” (Matt. 25:35 NIV). Second, being on mission to improving underresourced education centers, recognizing the call of Scripture to “train up a child in the way he should go” (Prov. 22:6). We are going to become a place where it becomes inescapable that to be part of Asbury is to respond relationally and tangibly to these needs in our community and world.

*We intend to do this specifically through relational involvement and service with the Asbury Preschool, Lynn Road Elementary, and our partners in Haiti (Hearts and Hands for Haiti). We will accomplish this through mentoring children, encouraging educators, improving school campuses, and engaging with parents. We see hundreds of unchurched parents and children from the Asbury Preschool finding new life in Christ at Asbury. We see thousands of pounds of fresh produce donated locally. We see not only hundreds of Asbury’s people visiting Haiti and engaging with children there but also sending millions of meals to Haiti. We see hundreds at Asbury serving as lion pals in our mentoring program for children. We see hundreds of backpacks filled with food for children on the weekend. That our Lord might proclaim, “You loved me when you packaged that meal, you walked with me when you grabbed the hand of an underresourced student and served, you blessed me when you received that family into my church” (Matt. 25).

*Jerusalem and Judea (Asbury Preschool), Samaria (Lynn Road), ends of the earth (Haiti) (Acts 1:8).

Church: Asbury United Methodist Church, Raleigh, NC

Pastor: Terry Bryant

Vision Template: Need adoption in harness with geographic saturation

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Will Mancini

Will Mancini

Will Mancini wants you and your ministry to experience the benefits of stunning, God-given clarity. As a pastor turned vision coach, Will has worked with an unprecedented variety of churches from growing megachurches and missional communities, to mainline revitalization and church plants. He is the founder of Auxano, creator of and the author of God Dreams and Church Unique.

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comment_post_ID); ?> I am a senior citizen who has lived in many areas of the US, the farthest south being Virginia DC area. There are several church plants in the area--some failed, some doing well. One of the sadist failures was a plant in NW Washington near a large Presbyterian Church (I had been an elder in the church, so I knew the area) where changes in church doctrine was driving many away from the PCUSA churches. There were many mature Christians who lived in the area who were very willing to participate and give generously to the church. Its failure was a loss. The pastor and his wife lived in a VA suburb, wanted something that would appeal to their tastes, which included "praise music". There was a professional piano teacher and several people who had sung in choirs in the area. Their suggestions were completely ignored. Forget that there was joyous participation in singing hymns and silence by many for the praise music. The experienced church leaders that were attending were expected to seek the wisdom of the pastor who did not live in the area rather than have any role in leadership. There is another church plant in Northern Virginia that seems to be going the same way. My take: the pastors should get past their high-school and college days culture and get to know and appreciate the people of the community. Do not try to reproduce Intervarsity or Campus Crusade. Hymns are not a sin and "uneducated" (never graduated from college) should not be ignored as uninformed or stupid. People who have served in and/or live in the area are needed in leadership and not just to serve coffee and give. We all need to pray together and serve God in the community in which there is to be a plant. Glenna Hendricks
— Glenna Hendricks
comment_post_ID); ?> I like it Mac and do agree with your opinions on the matter. Thanks much
— winston
comment_post_ID); ?> In this era, we have the opportunity of professional church staff today who utilize their gifting to shape the image and atmosphere of the church organization. But the 100% real impact on the church visitors is genuine evidence of changed lives by the gospel and the active growing discipleship (just as it was in the first century church). One demonstration is financially rich believers ministering equally together with poor believers (how odd, and incredibly miraculous; all humble and bow at the foot of the cross.). It is the awesome contrast of church members vocations, race, gender, age, maturity, gifting, humility that demonstrates to visitors "there is a Spirit in the place". That first-time guest list of 10 are "physical excuses", not spiritual excuses. Those don't tell the story. The condition of facilities and publicly greeting people have zero to do with it. The power of God in and through believers lives dedicated to impact other people with their relationship bridge-building of acceptance of the lost around them. Empowered believers are infectious, loving, helpful, giving, self-less, dynamic, compelling, bold, Christ-filled. As I have been in many church settings domestically and internationally, the facilities can be poor, and yet the fellowship can still be rich. We need to operate with first church humility. People come to Christ on His terms, not on our human abilities of hospitality. A huge catastrophe in a community, disaster relief brings lots of people into churches – many come to the church in those terrible conditions no matter the physical condition of the local church. Off the condition of facility, and onto the condition of God's people (living stones).... and everything else will grow.... and the other physical issues will be corrected by the staff.
— Russ Wright

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