It’s been a few days since I’ve updated this blog. (My apologies to those of you who have expressed interest in following my adventures in Australia and New Zealand.) They’ve kept me pretty busy with little time to do non-essential things like blogging, laundry, and sleeping!

My meetings with the leaders at the Holland Park church went well. We spent two evenings together, talking through the state of the church, their hopes for the future, and the importance of vision for moving forward. One of the first “orders of business” was to define “vision” and talk through what a “kingdom vision” looked like and why it was important to leading a church.

I’m saddened, frankly, that the notion of vision has been so polluted by church-growth prescriptions and capital campaign efforts. Many church leaders with whom I interact are under the impression that “vision” is little more than attendance projections, contribution estimates, and building-expansion plans—vision reduced to spread-sheets! How tragic!

The idea that “vision” involves, rather, a focused expression of what a church considers to be its essential kingdom business, that it summarizes a sense of “calling” for a church—what God wants a church to accomplish in a particular time and place and with a specific group of people—and that it addresses such matters as spiritual maturation rather than time-frames and estimates for the new auditorium addition comes as a surprise for many church leaders.

I talked with the Holland Park leaders about developing a vision for their church (and for their leadership) that involved building a church focused on growing people into the image of Christ (see Eph 4:11-16). Where is their church (and their individual members) on key characteristics of spiritual maturity such as holiness and service? Where does their church need to “grow” into greater Christ-likeness? Do they have a plan for promoting such growth? What are the means and methods (the “growth tools”) they intend to use to encourage growth in the church? (You might be interested in reading a related blog-thread about the maturation process: http://timwoodroof.com/tims-writings/archives/growing-up-in-christ/)

Most church leaders with whom I work find the challenge of spiritual maturation overwhelming. They don’t know how to define it or measure it or develop it. As a result, they often distract themselves from this essential spiritual business by meeting themselves to exhaustion and defining “leadership” as decision-making. The idea that leaders have a divine mandate to grow up their churches into the “fullness of God,” that they are responsible for the maturity of their members, sends many leaders into states of catatonic denial. Better to form another committee. Better to start a capital campaign. Better to go over the budget once again.

I don’t know what the Holland Park leaders will decide about this. I offered to make an extended visit to Australia to help them with the process. I’d love to encourage their development as leaders and an expansion of their influence on members and the churches in their area. I’m thinking three months sometime in 2011—conditioned on my personal circumstances and Julie’s availability to make the trip with me (I couldn’t do this without her).

We’ll see. If you’re reading this blog entry, I’d appreciate your prayers for the Holland Park church, her leaders, and my role in working with them. This is a great church with great potential to make a kingdom difference in Australia. I’d like to be a part of that if possible. We’ll just have to wait and see.