Vision 4 Life

The URC is about to enter into the first year of its Vision 4 Life project.  When I say ‘about to’ that’s obviously church speak for in 6 months.

So hear’s my tuppence worth on V4L…

I like the idea.  I think that encouraging our congregations to engage with ‘The Bible’, ‘Prayer’ and ‘Evangelism’ is a good thing but it has to go beyond that to make any difference because I’m sure if this is seen as just another bible study programme or house group then the people who usually take part in these things will take part in this and nothing much will change.

Change is the goal.  Transformation.

OK.  That sounds great.  If the bible and prayer and evangelism are anything then transforming should be at the top of the list.  If not I think we have missed the point.

I got to have a look at some of the draft ‘bible’ material the other day.  ‘The Bible’ is the first theme.  My honest opinion?  Disappointing.  Very disappointing.

For me (and that’s the only opinion I can give) the materials look far too much like every other bible study I’ve ever seen.  And the bit that’s missing is the ‘transformation’.

The questions that never seem to make it into bible studies ar ‘So what?’ and ‘How will this change my life?’.  ‘What do YOU think this means?’ and ‘How does it help you understand your life and faith?’.

Those for me are the transforming questions.  I guess you might call it ‘contextual’.  I’m a big fan of contextual bible study because it is about you, your understanding, your insight, your life.  Academic theology is important but only if it informs how people understand their faith.

Jesus did contextual all the time.  He pointed to sheep, goats, mustard seeds, water, trees, wine, bread and said the Kindgdom of God is like this.  People understood because they recognised the context of the stories.  We don’t live in the Galilee of 2000 years ago so our context is different.  OUR faith has to make sense in OUR context.  That’s why churches are empty, that’s why fresh expressions of church appear.  People need to make sense of their faith in their life or else is makes no sense at all.  Faith stops being transforming and becomes an academic exercise.

So, if V4L is going to be Visionary and For LIFE then it has to help people make the connection.

1 thought on “Vision 4 Life”

  1. David Finch left this comment on my old blog.

    I understand how you feel, Stewart, as not a lot is given away in the handbooks. I must say, however, that when news of the development from Catch the Vision came at the end of last year, I was very excited by it. I have not seen any programme like this for the church, ever, and that is why, on the last day of the year, a Sunday, with the Elders taking the service, in the prayers I asked God to show us the way to read the Bible, to pray better and to share the Good News. I then went on to say, ‘Thank you, Jesus’, because He was showing us the way with Vision4Life. I wrote an article for our magazine, which was overlooked and came a month later. I was asked by the Elders to read the 4 booklets and report back. I reported and said we should set up 4 groups to look at the topics. It was suggested that we already had some groups meeting , who could look at the subject – but no action was taken. I was on holiday for a meeting. Another Elders’ meeting was cancelled. Some discussion occurred in the next meeting without much direction, but someone suggested we have a day of prayer. As usual, no details. I forced the issue as the next magazine went to press. A threesome group thrashed out some ideas. We had a good Day of Prayer – it was not really day full of prayer! An extra meeting was held in August – but not for V4L. Agenda for September did not inclide V4L: I reported my dismay and it is now included, but it will be another, ‘What shall we do?’ Those of us who are keen must keep pressing for action and praying. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to work on us. After all, over 100 churches have signed to date! God bless you.

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