The first Westminster Town Hall Meeting to discuss the Vision Team Report was an important step forward in the visioning process. Yet, for the first half of the meeting, I struggled and wondered if we were communicating. I was reminded of the Christmas carol that asks the questions, "Do you hear what I hear? Do you see what I see? Do you know what I know?" It was clear in the first few minutes that the order for the meeting needed to be set aside and much more time was to be spent discussing and bringing an understanding of just what the Vision Team Report is and what the report is attempting to help us do as a congregation.
The report is not intended to be a polished document. The team decided to present the report in a way that would reflect the brainstorming process and hopefully spark open honest conversation and reflection. So it purposely contains raw and uncut statements as a way to get people to personally struggle with the questions. This was a risk and a very different way of doing things. Many terms and words are not intended to be exacting. Other approaches may have been better and easier, but I'm glad we took the risk.
While the report is not intended to be exacting, the team found it needed to develop
words and definitions that have specific meanings to communicate unique things in the life of Westminster. The terms: vision, Spanish speaking congregations, English speaking congregation, Bilingual congregation and one church are used in specific ways in the report, and understanding how these terms are used is very important to understanding the whole structure of the report. These terms are explained in the introductory pages of the report.
It is very important to understand that the report is intended to be a list of observations of the past and present. It is not intended to be a report of prescriptions and directions for the future. The team felt that a clear vision starts with discerning where we've been and where we are. We need to have a clear picture of what God is doing in the here and now before we attempt to understand God's future for us. Many churches struggle because they are either trapped in unresolved issues from the past or so concerned about the future that they miss what God is doing in the midst of the church now. The report tries hard not to make judgments about what should be. Rather, it is an attempt to observe what is now. It was hard not to offer solutions and directions and a few do slip into the report, but solutions and directions are for the next phase and the new vision team.
For now, we need to be about the hard necessary process of looking at ourselves, trying to discover and discern what God is doing in the midst of us. We need to compare notes. We need to be asking, "Do you see what I see? Do you hear what I hear? Do you know what I know?" As we find common vision; we will see what God is up to with Westminster. Another Westminster Town Hall meeting to further interact with the report is scheduled for Sunday November 7th at 4:00 - 5:30 PM. I hope you will be there. The meeting will be in English only and childcare will be provided.