I’ve been pondering vision lately, and I’m not talking about my eyesight. (Although, since we’re on the subject: what the heck, reading glasses?!)
The kind of vision I’ve been pondering is the one our future holds in our mind’s eye. This kind of vision is meant to inspire us, both professionally and personally, and move us toward the way things could or should be. Vision requires a clear picture of the future rather than the status quo. It’s about God empowering us to change circumstances for the better.
Vision says, What is our reality right now, where is God calling us, and how do we make operational changes to get there?
This past year Snowmass Chapel has gotten very clear on vision. Under Pastor Robert de Wetter’s leadership, the staff, board and lay leaders have prayed, examined, discussed, debated, and drilled down into all areas of ministry. As a result, here is how Robert articulates his vision for all of us as a community of believers living out our faith in the world: Snowmass Chapel will be the most thriving, healing, advocating, affirming, mold-breaking, outward-reaching, life-changing, high impact, loving network of Jesus-followers possible.
DOESN’T THAT JUST MAKE YOU SMILE? You can read here about how Robert views each of those words, but when I read that Vision Statement, I personally see FREEDOM TO INNOVATE! The words are so intertwined – they work together beautifully: you can be thriving AND mold-breaking; advocating AND loving; affirming AND a follower of Jesus.
Robert has always fostered a spirit of innovation here – if you feel the Spirit move and have a fire in your belly to do something, Robert makes sure you have the support and resources to get ‘er done. It’s one of the things our staff loves about being on this team, and it is so REFRESHING.
So with this innovative spirit in mind, here are the top three priorities that a committee of folks at the Chapel has come up with to operationalize the vision – that is, to create action steps that will change lives and build up the kingdom while keeping the vision in mind:
- Connecting: If we want to help people connect to God by coming to worship, engaging in a spiritual life, and truly know what it means to be part of a loving network of Jesus-followers, then we need to intentionally live the gospel wherever we go. How many sermons have really changed your lives? (Come on, really….). But how many PEOPLE have impacted you in ways you will never forget? That is connection, and it makes all the difference. So let’s make it obvious and easy: Welcome newcomers with gentleness and joy. Be hospitable to everyone, not just the ones who look and act like you. Create meaningful, fun programs and activities that help people. Offer a cup of coffee and a smile.
- Deepening: In addition to easy connections, people want deep and meaningful relationships. With God and with each other. Workshops, small groups, mentoring, baptism classes, bible study – it all matters – and every bit of it will strengthen your relationships with God and with one another so that you can heal, find joy and thrive.
- Communication: If we want people to be changed by what God is calling us to do, then we can’t sit in the building simply hoping they will come. We’re all about letting people know where we are, but also meeting them where they are. We value our partnerships in the community which allow us to advocate and affirm the most vulnerable, and we believe this make a difference in the world. We want Snowmass Chapel to be known by the love of its people in the world.
So how does all this “dreaming” become a reality? To a large part, and thanks to you, it already is. Our dream –our aim — is that everyone who is part of the Chapel intentionally acts on the vision in meaningful ways. Your greeting, teaching, leading, offering, serving, smiling – through each of these you represent the Chapel both here and “out there,” and more importantly you are allowing others to see the love of God played out in you. It’s win-win. Just think of what we can do together!
I just came back from vacation, and I thought I would share something that I learned while soaking in the clothing optional hot springs. When people first showed up in the luxuriantly warm and healing waters, they entered as individuals or in small groups and then they would proceed to remain so. I wondered if they really wanted to be alone, so I started approaching people and asking them a few questions to “break the ice.” Before long, I got to know a few names and details and I started introducing people to each other. Next thing I knew, people were making new friends and chatting sociably with people who had been previously total strangers.
After a while, I came to the conclusion that these people didn’t *really* want to be alone. They *wanted* to get to know each other, but for one reason or another, they couldn’t break through the invisible wall separating them from the delightfully interesting people who were all around them. They needed somebody to give them permission to speak to each other. Maybe I learned this lesson from my dad, who became friends with waiters and grocery check-out clerks everywhere we went.
Certainly, Jesus was a Master at asking questions. His questions were probing and insightful, and he often offered questions in response to questions that were asked of him. John 21:23-27 is a really fun example of Jesus answering a question with a question.
Back to the hot springs… I began to work on developing some good questions. Most people don’t mind being asked where they are from and what they do. John Goss is a delightful entertainer, and I’ve heard him ask an audience member, “I know it’s not polite to ask a woman her age, so…. How much do you weigh?” I always like to see if I can get people talking about deeper and more interesting things, so I would ask, “Have you ever read a book that changed your life?” One woman said that she was writing a book of wise advice for her niece and she asked me if I had anything to contribute. I thought that was a wonderful question, because it made me think if there was anything I had learned in my life that would be worth passing along to this woman’s niece.
One thing I love about Snowmass Chapel’s website is that it is designed for conversation. We start the conversation, but then you continue the conversation with your comments. So I think it would be really fun to hear about your favorite questions – both the ones you like to ask and the questions others have asked you. I can’t wait to read your best ideas!
Our home TV has been down off the wall as we’ve been doing some painting and things around the house. This week it was hung back up. We got it all plugged in and the cables hooked together, but the screen just flashed, “Connection Error.” My husband, Adam, (your handsome, bearded, weekly Sunday morning sound technician) jiggled some wires, reworked a few things, and tried again. Still, the handy dandy diagnostic on the screen let us know what our problem was… “Connection Error.”
Adam called the cable company. They asked him some questions, worked through our issues (the TV ones at least), and when he hung up the phone our TV was back up and running with a simple modem reset. We were connected!
If only it were that easy for people. Jiggle a few wires, rework a few things, make a phone call, and wa-la: connection.
Or maybe it is that easy for people?
I have been giving quite a bit of brain and prayer power toward visioning for the future of the Children, Youth and Families department of Snowmass Chapel. My vision keeps coming back to one thing. What I want more than anything for our Chapel kids and parents and heck, really everyone in the whole world, is a life full of DEEP AND MEANINGFUL CONNECTION. I want our people to be totally plugged into the power source – Jesus – without any outages or connection errors, and then I want our people to be totally plugged into one another. I want connection.
Last week my four year old son was trying to understand the concept of what is living and what is not living. He started asking questions.
“Are the trees living, momma?”
“Are the rocks living, momma?”
“Is our house living, momma?”
“Is our church living, momma?”
Yes, little Zig-man, our church is living! Our church is not a building but a group of people who love God and WHO LOVE YOU. Our church is alive. Our church is connected.
I think we are most successful teaching kids about God’s magnificent love for them by allowing them to feel and experience the church’s magnificent love for them. Our kids need belonging. Our kids need connection. We all do. “Church,” and I’m talking ’bout the people, not the building, provide just that.
As I plan for the future of our youth department at Snowmass Chapel, I will continue to program things like the hut trip, family church, Lake Powell, VBS, and Smashbox because these are the types of things that jiggle the wires, reset the modem, and deepen CONNECTION.
I laugh as I type this and my computer goes haywire. The internet is down (“not connected”), but it’s “connecting in 1 second” and also gives me the option to “try now.” I hope we all choose to “try now” too. 😉
Stay plugged in friends.