“How you picture that future has a great deal to do with what will happen by God’s grace. Imagine your church as a vibrant, transformational fellowship that pulses with life and energy. How would it look? How would it feel?” (Ott 25).
How would your church look? Where does God take your imagination as you dream, pray, and envision the liveliness of your community of faith?
Personally, as I began to dream about the church where I serve, I started seeing people interacting with energy and with smiles on their faces. I began to see people who were studying the word of God and were moved by their love of Christ to share it with people in their lives. The picture kept coming to my mind of people being the hands and feet of Christ as they left our doors, spreading joy out into the community. A while back, a mother and daughter I had known in a previous church came to visit. After the service they commented on how lively our congregation is. Could it be that God was fulfilling the vision, and it took someone from outside to help me see it?
The Dr. Ott’s second question above is equally important. How would your church feel in a transformational situation? Answering this question well might take real imagination. How do the hands we clasp during the passing of the peace feel? How hard or soft is the chair or pew? Is the fabric covering it smooth? Who is sitting next to you? What does the music “feel” like? Does it wash over the congregation with notes of warmth and harmony? Is the music lively and energy generating? Is it like listening to angels singing? Do you find yourself thanking God when the music elevates like a prayer? What words of inspiration and faith does the preacher say that lifts your hope to a higher plane? How do those words “feel”? What does holding the elements in communion feel like? Is the bread soft or like a cracker? Is it wine or grape juice? How do they taste? One could walk through every element in the life of the congregation and imagine what it feels like. If you do this exercise and what you find is not very uplifting, perhaps that is the very place your prayer life and God’s vision need to focus. Can you imagine it even if it is not happening right now?