I want to talk to you about two pictures.
This rather odd-looking mansion has an even odder story behind it. In 1884 Sarah Winchester, who had inherited millions of dollars from her husband, one of the owners of the Winchester gun company, purchased an unfinished farmhouse in the Santa Clara Valley in California. She began building her mansion which turned into what you can see above.
She didn’t employ an architect, there were no plans or blueprints for the house. She just hired different groups of carpenters and other tradesman who worked on the house day and night until it became a seven-story mansion. Bits of the building were just added in a haphazard fashion according to the whims of Mrs Winchester or the what the groups of workmen thought they should do next. The result is a home that contains numerous oddities such as doors and stairs that go nowhere, windows overlooking other rooms and stairs with odd-sized risers and corridors that don’t go anywhere. Most of the House would be unlivable in because of these oddities.
The Winchester Mystery House, as its called, reminds of me what can happen in a church. As the years go by, things are added to the church programme, but in a haphazard way with no plan. Just like the builders of the Winchester house, groups of people work hard on their bit of the church but end up building something that isn’t necessarily connected to what others are doing.
My dad once took me around the shipyard where he worked when I was in primary school. There were lots of amazing things to see but the thing that fascinated me most was that they used a water jet to cut metal. When the water was put under pressure and then focused in a very fine jet it could cut through thick pieces of aluminum. That water jet has always been a reminder to me of the power of focus.
At Westlake we have just launched something called VISION 20/20. in essence Vision 20/20 is about seeking God’s vision for Westlake over the next decade. We are calling it VISION 20/20 because 20/20 vision is what doctors call the clearest vision, and we hope to launch the Vision in the year 20/20 with a clear vision for our future as a Church.
Through our REVisioning Process we have clarified our IDENTITY AS A CHURCH, what God has called us to do and how we will do it. (remember “enabling people to become lifelong followers of Jesus for the glory of God and the good of the world)
Now in VISION 20/20 we are trying to clarify OUR DIRECTION AS A CHURCH, where God is taking us.
In essence what we are trying to do is make sure that we as a church, as we move forward, are more WATER JET than WINCHESTER MYSTERY HOUSE. We could simply carry on doing what we are doing, adding on the occasional programme or event but with no plan to guide us. In that case, we would end up as the ecclesiastical equivalent of the Winchester Mystery House having a very complex structure with various parts not necessarily connecting to one another. In which case we would achieve very little impact for the Kingdom of God.
The alternative is to have a Vision of where we believe God is taking us as a church. That Vision has the potential to do for us a church what that Water Jet Machine did in the shipyard with water, give us the power of focus. As we focus on the Vision we believe God has given us, in dependence on the Holy Spirit, we will find tremendous power released in our church.
This is so important that we are asking everyone connected to Westlake if they would pray daily for our VISION 20/20. I want to ask you personally to pray for this and in particular to pray for two things
CLARITY …. Pray that as we think, pray and discuss that God would give us clarity about the Vision He is giving us in a way that will be undeniable.
UNITY …. Pray that as God clarifies our vision we will have unity, that we as a church will unify around that vision.
In my next blog post we’ll look at how God is God of Vision, what Vision is and why it would be good for us as a church to have a clear Vision.