(I wrote this a couple of years ago on my nakedpastor blog and initiated tons of debate over it. I still stand by this though.)
I have always argued that churches are best to not be goal-oriented, that they should be free of vision. In my opinion, this is the healthiest church.
If a church has vision and is goal-oriented, then it has deviated from its healthiest self and will impose burdens on its members. It will have become something else… like a lobbying group, an activist group, a missional group, or something other than just a church. It can still call itself a church. But it should admit it has opted for a utilitarian identity rather than just accepting its identity. A church will have to choose to be utilitarian or just be. It can’t be both.
In other words, churches should be pointless*. Pointless like my family is pointless. My family is not without its problems and issues, but it is a vibrant, rich, joyful and dynamic community. But it is completely pointless. It doesn’t mean things don’t happen or that we haven’t had an affect on others or the world. But we are pointless. We’re not even intentionally pointless. We are just pointless. And I love it for that. That’s why I love to go home every day and just be, just relax, just love and be loved.
When I pastored local churches, I pastored them with the same thing in mind: that it should be pointless.
Very few people agree. I’m not sure why. Perhaps we are all caught up in the modern “vision” mindset and lingo. Perhaps most people never experienced or enjoyed just being in a loving family. Perhaps most people are ambitious and competitive and want to see their church advance beyond the others.
In any case, I’ve learned that most people and churches are uncomfortable with being pointless.
(*I am indebted to Terry Eagleton for the use of this word “pointless“, although he uses it in reference to life in his wonderful little book, The Meaning of Life.)