Recession Epiphany

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.

0 thoughts on “Recession Epiphany

  1. Hi Peter,

    Happy New Year to you and thanks for being kind enough to quote me. I think you have made sense of what was rather a ‘stream of consciousness’ post I wrote last night that I had been intending to write for a few days. Perhaps you understand me better than I understand myself!

  2. I completely agree that mission and vision statements are important. But the exercise of creating them can be excruciating, especially when you have to do it in a committee of 20+ people. My stomach gets queasy at the thought of the angst and eventual blandness of a mission and vision statement produced through broad compromise. Ugh.

    In reality, the mission and vision are what is in the congregation’s heart. It’s great when the worded statement matches that feeling. But sometimes, I even think it’s better left as a sentiment and not so much a precisely worded statement.

  3. Tyson, I would not advise creating such statements by committee. I realise that in some churches that is the only way such statements can be adopted, which is probably why the majority of such churches are completely lacking vision and purpose and are in decline. (My anti-spam word for this comment is “Ichabod”, a good description of many such churches.) Such statements need to be produced by a small team of leaders (e.g. pastors or elders) committed to one another and to the church. If the structures don’t allow such a statement to be or become a formal one, then let it remain an informal one, or indeed a sentiment rather than a statement.

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