© 2013 John Casimir O'Keefe

Fuzzy Vision

At the church I currently serve (First Christian Church (FCC) in Waynoka, OK) we are in the process of some very fuzzy, but directed, vision casting. We are in the process of changing a great many things; we are changing our name; rethinking and redesigning our sacred space; rethinking theology to stand center in the idea that love wins and grace abounds. These changes can cause the hearts of many small dying churches to run screaming and kicking into the grave, but what I have found at my current church is that people are ready; ready for an expression of faith and worship that does more than simply carry a human vision of judgment and sin. As we move from a “traditional church” to an “emerging community of faith” I believe the idea of what I call fuzzy vision is very important.

I know, you’re thinking, What the heck do I mean by fuzzy vision? Well, simply put, fuzzy vision is casting a larger picture, and inviting others (the community) to fill in the details as you move along; it invites creativity in a conceptual age. It centers on the idea that, by nature, vision is a community endeavor, a creative endeavor. It is a vision where others are invited to add to that larger vision, but not take away from the core of the large vision, For example, at FCC part of the vision is to remove the pews and replace them with couches, tables and chairs. I defined that vision as a “Coffee Shop Community of Faith.” I shared my vision, the coffee shop church, and those who lead with me added to that vision, defined that vision, molded that vision, and moved that vision forward. My fuzzy vision did not define what that coffee shop would look like, others were invited to share how it took shape, how it was defined.

Fuzzy vision is hard, because it requires that you share and let others define – it requires that you be willing to move past your own tastes and invite others to move that vision forward – it requires a deep trust in others ability to see the large picture and help fill in the blanks. Granted, I have been blessed with an amazing Leadership Team. People who “get it” and see the possibilities; people who do not fear change, but embrace it and can see how changing will help us bring the message of God’s love to the community at large. Fuzzy vision is not just letting it happen, tough I will admit there is a bit of that in the process, it also requires that you keep sharing the vision, incorporating the ideas of others and moving forward. It moves best with open timing, small leadership groups, and the realization that we only rent the space we call sacred, we do not own it.


Open Timing

The idea of open timing can be confusing, because people who love plans want to move along a set plan and follow that plan to the letter. When we see open timing we live in a realm of empathy. We are empathic to the needs of the community we serve (not just the church we lead). We see those outside our gathering as a people looking for a place to join, a place to question, a place to wonder, a place to share their life stories with our. In that, we realize that we do not have God’s Plan, but we have God’s plan for our community. The idea is that we do not move at our speed, but we move at the speed of God. Sometimes, this means we put the cart before the horse. A good example of this can be found in our desire to rethink and redesign our sacred space.

As we move forward with our plans we may find that we cannot afford to remove the carpet. If that is the case, we know we would not hold back our plans because of the carpet. If we can afford the furnishing, but not the carpet, we would get the furnishings in and the carpet later. You see, human plans tell us that we should decide on the flooring and pay for that first, before the furnishings – but when we move at God speed, things come in different ways.


Big Vision, Small Groups

Fuzzy vision is best when you are working with a small group of people, and not the whole congregation. We are not a congregational church, and to be honest with you, sharing any vision in an Elder ran church is a thousand times easier than in a congressional church. Some people find it hard to get five people to agree, imagine trying to get 100 people to agree. In my case, I have a great group we call our Leadership Team. These are people the congregation trusts, knows and believe would not point them in a negative direction.


Realize we rent, we do not own.

During the Contemporary Church Movement, the idea was to share a sense of ownership of the church with others – they owned the church. But to be honest with you the idea of “ownership” when it comes to churches always amazes me – we do not own the church, at best we rent it in hopes of passing it on to those who move in next; this came to light for me while we were talking about the kinds of furnishings we desired in our sacred space. As we were talking with the sales person they wanted to sell us the “top end” couches, but one of our leadership team members, Richard, asked how long the “lower end” couches would last (they were half the price). She said that in a normal home they might last five years. Richard said, “Let’s get the lower end furnishings because we might want to change things up in five years to meet the needs of others.” He got it, he understood that we are only renters of God’s house and how we furnish that house may change as time moves.



Over my time as a pastor and a leader I have come to the reality that vision does not have to be perfectly clear. In fact, it is best if it is a bit fuzzy. What I have found is that when the vision is a bit fuzzy, people invest deeper into the vision. Fuzzy vision Invite others to put the vision in their own words, and see the vision as theirs.


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