Stick around long enough examining the culture of church ministry and you’ll eventually hear about “dreams” and “visions”. Some traditions value them as prophetic, while others categorize them as emotional junk.
Personally, I think where we as believers go wrong is writing off dreams too soon, while not allowing “reality” to have any room for inspiration. But I also see where dreams never materialize because the dreamer resists any interpretation other than their own. Anything of worth must be tested, even the stuff we can’t necessarily nail down to the floor.
Dreams and reality are seen as polar opposite enemies, almost like two warring nations. Truth is, they should be partners in action. Each one adds value to the other.
I’m reminded of a classic song from the group, Rush, “Closer to the Heart”.
The blacksmith and the artist
Reflect it in their art
They forge their creativity
Closer to the heart, yes closer to the heart
Philosophers and ploughmen
Each must know his part
To sow a new mentality
Closer to the heart, well closer to the heart
Without the dreamer, the artist, the thinker, the purveyor of the intangible… the realist, the worker, the common man, the master of the tangible, would be without inspiration to get through the doldrums of everyday life. It is not a coincidence that work just seems to fly by a lot faster when a radio is on in the background.
Conversely, the dreamer cannot eat or sleep without the laborious efforts of the realist. This is part of our earthly lot, that nothing we obtain is ever true “free”, despite what some politicians may tell you!
This is the way of society as it has been for centuries. Spiritually speaking, it is the same careful balance to find for the Christ-follower. The line between “go for it” and “wait” can be blurred. The wall that separates the future wonders of vision from the current needs of provision, is much shorter than we think.
What I know to be true is that for every dream, vision, or sign, there must be those rooted in graceful accountability to voice concerns and hopefully provide confirmation.
It is vital for those with their “head in the clouds” find a connection to the ground below, otherwise they simply float away.
I know many well-meaning people on both sides of this coin:
- The entrepreneurial young buck who has big plans ahead, but wants them now (no doubt, a product of current “Google” culture) and…
- The hardened veteran who never took many chances, falling back on safe and known quantities.
This is the current paradigm of church ministry.
Either you want it all as soon as possible, or you’re the traditionalist that exerts far too much caution. Neither one is right or Biblical.
One of the more recent trends is church-planting. This is great! As a church planter myself, I applaud every effort to grow the Kingdom of God and reach the lost. But what I try to tell guys that want to get started, is basically, “hit the brakes”. Don’t put the vehicle in park, just wait at the corner stop sign until it’s clear.
Let me make it known that I have much admiration for those willing to take on the tremendous task of starting a new church. It’s not easy, cheap, or for everybody, otherwise we’d see a lot more churches in places that really needed them. But for those that are called, there is nothing else they’d rather do! (I know this to be true)
However, far too many are going into it without the proper amount of planning and covering. This is where that ministry veteran should come into play and offer advisement, but due to lack of relationship between the older generation and the new ones, there is distrust and jealousy. “Competition” is a word that gets used a lot and can describe the lay of the land in most communities when it comes to ecumenicalism, but since we’re such nicey-nice Christians, we don’t like using “worldly” words.
But just because we don’t like certain terms, doesn’t mean they don’t apply. Just like in the dynamic of the dreamer and the realist, there ought to be a working relationship between the hipster church planter and the khaki wearing traditionalist. Both have the same aim (reaching people for Jesus), and quite frankly they need each other.
Some Biblical support for this: Paul discipling Timothy. He took him along on missionary journeys. Paul was brought along in ministry by Barnabas and it was only natural for him to find someone to pour into as well.
The Apostle Paul writes to his spiritual son in 2 Timothy 3…
10 You, however, know all about my teaching, my way of life, my purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, 11 persecutions, sufferings—what kinds of things happened to me in Antioch, Iconium and Lystra, the persecutions I endured. Yet the Lord rescued me from all of them.
Experience is the best teacher of all and Timothy was blessed to witness first-hand much of the travails of Paul. Timothy saw what ministry was really about and just like his mentor, probably received the scars to prove it.
I’m thankful for those that came before me, providing examples and taking hard lessons learned so I wouldn’t have to (not as much anyways). I wouldn’t be able to function in ministry without men who encouraged me, held me accountable, and challenged what I was doing, even when I thought I knew everything!
If it wasn’t for certain accountability partners, I would have lost my sanity a long time ago! So here’s my two cents worth of advice…
To anyone getting started: Find someone to keep you grounded. Look past their possible cynicism or attachment to tradition and cherish their input!
To anyone with experience: Find someone to invest in. Look past their youthful ignorance and find their potential!
We cannot afford to entertain this prideful divide in our churches any longer, when the world is collapsing further into godlessness. There are souls at stake and they’re worth more than some lofty recognition or petty feelings!
Partner up and let the Holy Spirit add wisdom to the young and energy to the old. Don’t wait for your denomination or association to do the work of relationship building for you. Do your best to seek out other leaders (or future ones) and you’ll be blessed for it.