Dave Faulkner, a Methodist minister in my home town of Chelmsford (but we have met only very briefly), writes an interesting post for the feast of Epiphany (today), about the recession and what the church can learn from it. He suggests that the companies which are failing at the moment are marked by vision which is either too broad (Woolworths) or too narrow (Waterford Wedgwood).
He characterises Woolworths as
Something of a hotch-potch in recent years, doing several things reasonably but none of them well.
And that makes them sound like many churches. They try to do this, that and everything, because X, Y and Z are all things that a church should supposedly do, but they overstretch themselves and do few of them well.
By contrast, Waterford Wedgwood are in trouble because
Who’s buying bone china tea services any more? …
All of which implies for me that a company like Wedgwood has had too narrow a vision. … And maybe that too has been a problem in many churches. … I’m not arguing for some corporate-style approach to vision and mission statements, but I am saying that a time of crisis is one that should make us remember the basics of why we exist.
If companies are to succeed in a time of recession, they need a clear vision and focus which needs to be for what their customers need. And, in a time when many parts of the Christian church are in decline, if local congregations are to succeed they also need a clear vision and focus. If they continue to do just what they have always done, or try to do everything without focus, very likely they will not survive – although churches tend to fade away whereas companies suddenly collapse. But with the right vision and focus, truly given by God, even in these times churches can and will survive and grow.