Vision 2020

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During this year our church will be focussing on the topic of “Vision” and thinking about God’s vision for the ministry of First Rathfriland Presbyterian Church for 2020 and beyond.

To have no vision in our eyes or to be blind leaves us unable to see. Worldwide, between 300 million and 400 million people are visually impaired due to various causes. Of this group, approximately 50 million people are totally blind, unable to see light in either eye. Eighty percent of blindness occurs in people over 50 years old.[i] In the UK, there are almost 2 million people living with sight loss. Of these, around 360,000 are registered as blind or partially sighted. Not only do people not have vision but churches lack vision. It can be particularly difficult for long established churches such as First Rathfriland Presbyterian which has been in existence since 1662 to have a vision for the future. We are not on our own because researcher George Barna found that only 2% of ministers could articulate a vision for their church.

Blindness is strictly defined as the state of being totally sightless in both eyes. A completely blind individual is unable to see at all. The word blindness, however, is commonly used as a relative term to signify visual impairment, or low vision, meaning that even with eyeglasses, contact lenses, medicine or surgery, a person does not see well. Vision impairment can range from mild to severe. It is difficult for both a person and a church when they have no vision, they are unable to see where they are going. For our church to face the challenges of the next decade, to understand what God wants to accomplish through us, to know where we are going, we need to have a vision for the future.

Vision is a clear and a challenging picture of hope which needs to flow from the heart of the minister, the elders, the church committee, the organisational leaders and ultimately the whole congregation. A vision for the future is important to the church because it:  

  • Encourages unity
  • Creates energy
  • Provides purpose
  • Fosters risk taking
  • Enhances leadership
  • Promotes excellence
  • Sustains ministry

 

A vision for the future is important to the community as it offers the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a people in great need.

In human terms whether sight loss comes on suddenly or a diagnosis is confirmed after experiencing gradual change, shock is often the first reaction. It can be hard to take in the news, and you can find yourself carrying on as if nothing was different. You may also disbelieve the news or think the doctor has made a mistake. Of course, it’s reasonable to seek a second opinion and look for more information about treatments. But you may find yourself frantically seeking further diagnoses or trusting in "miracle" cures that have no evidence to support them. This is called denial, and it may be the mind's way of buying time to get used to a new experience. It should fade over time as you find ways to adjust to your situation.[ii]

In congregational life after surviving 350 years many may struggle with the need for a vision in the church. Yet we see in the Bible that great leaders like Joshua were given a clear vision of what God wanted Him and Israel to achieve. I trust that we will all work at discovering God’s vision for our church and that we will all work at delivering that vision with the talents that God has given us.

 

Rev Trevor Boyd

Minister, First Rathfriland Presbyterian Church.

 


[i] https://www.medicinenet.com/blindness/article.htm#blindness_facts

[ii] https://www.rnib.org.uk/recently-diagnosed/coming-terms-sight-loss

https://www.andrews.edu/services/jacl/article_archive/2_1_summer_2007/2-vision-based-ls-of.pdf

 


Healthy Vision

To have good vision our eyes need to be healthy. It is a well-known fact that as we get older, we become more likely to develop certain eye problems. The same can also be true in the work and ministry of a church. The older it gets the harder it is to keep the eyes of the church healthy to maintain a strong vision for the Lord’s work. As people get older their concern for a vision for the future may diminish as they think that if the church lasts while they are alive all is fine. We need to work at keeping our human eyes and the spiritual eyes of our church healthy.

As we get older it appears that typically our eye muscles start to weaken from around the age of 45. By the time we're 60, we will probably need separate reading glasses or an addition to our prescription lenses. 

Age can bring with it, conditions that can reduce our vision. “Floaters” which are tiny specks or spots that float across our vision, Cataracts and Glaucoma.

To help keep our eyes healthy we can eat foods that help circulation which are good for our heart, eyes, and vision.

It is essential that in church life we maintain a healthy view for the Lord’s work irrespective of our age or role, we need to understand what God wants us to be doing for our generation. We are familiar with the verse in Proverbs 29:18 “Where there is no vision, the people perish….” As a church we all need to be working to ensure that the eyes of our church are healthy, that we can see all around us. To have healthy eyes in our church we need to have an interest and a heart for the people of all ages and all backgrounds. We need the Holy Spirit to guide and direct our thoughts and our concerns so that we can understand the vision that God has for First Rathfriland Presbyterian Church. To keep the eyes of our church and our leaders healthy we need people to be praying for God to guide us in the right direction. We need to be praying for the Kirk Session who have had a Vision 2020 training meeting that they would be guided to a Vision for the Lord’s work which the congregation can get behind.

In daily life we appreciate the benefit of healthy eyes. Our desire should be that we have healthy eyes in our church to see around us and be aware of the needs of our people which will then help to shape our vision for the future to the glory of God.

  • How would you describe the level of spiritual maturity in our church?
  • Are we developing new leaders, and how?
  • How would we describe the morale of our volunteers?
  • Do our congregation enthusiastically invite people to our worship services or events?

I trust that we will endeavour to keep our eyes and the eyes of our church healthy during the year 2020 as we consider the questions above.

 

Rev Trevor Boyd

Minister of First Rathfriland Presbyterian Church


The Eye Test

As we enter into this year new year of 2020 it is a great time to think about vision and to think about the future. 2020 vision is known as perfect vision. It is a term based on our results from the Snellen eye test. The Snellen eye test is where we go to the optician and read the letters on the chart from 20 feet away. If you can stand at 20 feet from the chart and read the letters down to the eighth line you have 20/20 vision. Many of us need glasses or contact lenses to be able to see properly. People have been checking their vision since Mr Snellen developed his chart in 1862.

I have an appointment with Sandra Baird Optometrist this week when I will be put through my paces in front of the Snellen chart. I am not sure how good my vision really is and I am a little nervous that my eyesight is not as good as the time of the last test.

In life we can have a tendency to think that things are better than they are or that they are worse than they are. We don’t really know what is true until we measure ourselves against a standard. We all go through the same eye test, we are all measured against the same standard and then given the results. When we have the results the optician is able to advise us on what is required to maintain the best vision possible.

When it comes to ministry, church life how do we assess where we are at? How do we measure the focus and vision of our activity?

We measure everything against the Bible which is the Living Word of God and in it Jesus Christ has commissioned the church to make disciples of all the nations (Matthew 28:18-20). This is what the church is called to be and do. Any vision or plan for our congregation should fit with the mission of the church of Jesus Christ. We are to make disciples for Christ. We are to proclaim the gospel to lead sinners to saving-faith in Christ and nurture them to spiritual maturity in Christ. Knowing what to do and knowing how to do it are not the same thing. A vision for the future must come through prayer leading to actions which help to fulfil the Great Commission in the place. God has placed us as the congregation of First Rathfriland on Newry Street in Rathfriland amidst the other expressions of Reformed worship for a specific reason and a specific people. It is important that we check our vision because God has given us a responsibility for a unique group of people. We need to have our vision checked so that we are able to do the work that God has called us to.

We could start our eye test by asking ourselves is First Rathfriland preaching the Gospel? Are the followers of Christ being built in their faith? Are we evangelising in our community? Are we global in our outlook?

This link will take you to some further reading https://www.heartlight.org/hope/hope_980513_vision.html