Vision vs. Mission

Whether within a church, business, or at the epicenter of one's personal life, understanding the difference between mission and vision is imperative. Today's Gate leader/staff retreat touched a bit on the comparison, thus signaling the research guru to come out of the shell temporarily.

Vision, in essence, is not measured by what is achieved as compared to what is eternal. V. Vision "always is." It's the happy place, a source of refuge and firm foundation. The vision should NEVER change. Contrarily, the mission is the means the vision is carried out. A mission should be allowed breathing room to transform according to newness of vision, as it certifies to what is real by God's standards. The mission WILL often change. So attempting to find permanent criteria to a mission statement could open the door to future discouragement. The reality is often times the methods of carrying out vision require tweaking or refining down the road; however, this does not translate into some form of spiritual failure necessarily.
So perhaps
the initial split-off between vision and mission is knowing what should remain the same versus what should be subject to collaboration, while understanding the mission is simply the tactical strategy in arriving at/reaching the base of vision.

A convenient place to start in discerning the dichotomy is analyzing the life of Paul the apostle. Paul's mission, as the case with any principal, pro-Jesus character in Scripture, needs to be realized apart from the broader vision. Yes, vision and mission must be seen in their interwoven relationship, but separating the entities is a crucial step in comprehending such a link.

In the book A Vision for the Church: Studies in Early Christian Ecclesiology , Markus Bockmuehl and Michael B. Thompson mention the following concerning Paul's vision:

"Paul’s vision for the communities that he wrote to can be summed up quite succinctly. He sees them as being a new creation in Christ, filled with the Spirit, possessing gifts of the Spirit and overflowing with the fruit of the Spirit, controlled above all by love; they are communities that should be pure and holy, mutually supportive and interdependent, completely united, transcending the oppositions and tensions between different groups within the community, and with every kind of barrier that would divide them in normal society broken down." (105)

Furthermore, an abbreviated version of Paul's calling can be found in Acts 9:15 when the Lord reveals the blueprints to the disciple, Ananias:

"...he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake." (NKJV)

Paul's mission, at least some facets of it, can be found only a few verses later beginning in v. 20 (scattering to v. 31):

"Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God...confound[ing] the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ...[and] spoke boldly in the name of the Lord Jesus and disputed against the Hellenists...then the churches throughout all Judea, Gallilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were mutliplied..."

Paul's story provides a clear-cut example of how mission yields to vision. Often, the Lord will grant vision while placing the ball in our court. The subsequent and proper response on the receiving end is simply aligning to His Word and call in order to see/hear clearly how the vision should be carried out. Sometimes frailty and weakness interfere initially, which might trigger a retreat down the road to "square one." The joy of the vision-mission model lies in the existence of hope in knowing the vision stays the same and never changes.

To be continued...

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