What if? How dreams become reality

At the beginning of a New Year thoughts often turn to the things we want to achieve over the next 12 months.  It might mean getting our life in order (doing the overdue filing or a real stock take of where/who we really are), looking for a new job or perhaps going to the gym more often with the express intention of losing a few pounds or dropping a couple of dress sizes.

Even with the best of intentions some resolutions don’t survive the first week, let alone the year.  We may lack the will or the staying power but it’s more likely that the goals we’ve set are just too tough or we haven’t found the right support to give our plans a realistic chance of being followed through.

It can sometime seem that whilst the dreams we set ourselves are tough enough, the bar set through God’s Vision for His church is higher still. We have the Great Command to embrace (“Love”) and the Great Commission to enact (“Go”): it’s a wonderful dream, it’s God’s plan but how will it all become reality?

Study 7: How real is our church?

Heart to God: hand to man.
This is the motto The Salvation Army adopted soon after it was founded, as it sought to minister in the most deprived areas of Britain’s industrial cities.  It suggests that we should not separate our commitment to God from our responsibility to serve others.  It’s an invitation to look up, look around and to look within: there will be no lasting good unless our heart is in the right place. 
Our love for God is expressed through the depth of our concern for others, alongside our readiness to get involved in their broken lives. That’s particularly important where we are in a position of influence or power and where others are on the receiving end of bullying, deliberate isolation and/or injustice (see Micah 6:8).  When we see such need can we really walk by on the other side of the road? If we can do something about it, why don’t we?

Study 6: Why is it so tough?

You can buy insurance for most things. Cars, homes, pets and health can all be covered, with the premium reflecting the risks involved. The downside is that you rarely get your money back if nothing happens - that’s the risk you take and the company’s profits you contribute towards. You will only get a payout, a replacement or support when something goes wrong.

the battle belongs to the lord 784x606There’s no cover, though, against bad things happening to good people. The unexpected will always be with us - computers will malfunction (I’ve just lost a whole paragraph of this study I can’t recover), cars will break down and we won’t stay fit and well for ever.

Even the best laid plans with clear goals and community support will sometimes seem in danger of unravelling, especially when there are competing parties involved.

Study 4: How do I inspire others?

How do you eat a whole cow*? It seems an impossible task given the size of the animal and the limitations of our digestive systems.

Coventry.jpgMany projects can seem rather like that. There’s so much to be done with a finite resource, alongside pressing deadlines that can’t be extended.

It’s may not even be a question of pressing forwards right away: there’s often more questions to be answered, ground to be cleared and clarity to be established before you can begin to bring anything new to the table.

Study 2: Where did it all go wrong?

lightBulb.jpgEvery vision has a light bulb moment. This is the point when dreams are beginning the process of becoming reality. At this stage there’s a greater understanding of what has to be done, how it will pan out and what resources – financial and human – might be required to get things on their way.

This isn’t, though, the very first stage of realising God’s best for us and for His Church. Just as the bulb needs to be wired to a power source before it sheds light in the darkness, we need to be fully connected to God to grasp the significance and the application of His Vision for His church.

How can we prepare to receive the vision in order to take the next steps to give it life?

Study 5: How do I get involved?

If the only way to eat a whole cow is to take your time and do it in bite size pieces (see last week’s study), what happens when the pressure’s really on? What if the vision is so big, the needs so great and the timescale so short that even if you do apply yourself to the task, you simply cannot can’t keep up?

The obvious answer is that vision and guidance are rarely, if ever, delivered in a vacuum. The initial idea will usually come to one person or a small group, who then have to share the possibilities. It’s then a matter of seeking ownership (“buy in”) and inviting participation (“active involvement”) from others in the group.

Study 3: What do I do next?

How do we move things on when it all seems to have ground to a halt?

Good thing as patience undoubtedly is (and where would the British love of queuing be without it?), it’s fair to say that it isn’t always easy having to wait for things we want. It’s harder still when you’re convinced you know what you need, how you can get it and where it will take you for the greatest benefit.