the weblog of Alan Knox

Without vision…

Posted by on Dec 8, 2009 in blog links | 11 comments

The famous proverb (Proverbs 29:18) is often used to justify a church leader setting the agenda for the whole church. I’ve always thought that was a misuse of that proverb.

Now, I’m glad to read that I’m not the only person who is concerned with this translation. It seems that Dietrich Bonhoeffer thought this translation (and the related practice) was detrimental to the church and idolatrous. I know! Strong language, isn’t it!

But, you don’t have to trust me on this. You can read Bonhoeffer’s words in a post on “unlikely christians” called “Without Vision the Community Flourishes?

Of course, if God doesn’t communicate his vision for his church through a church leader, then how does he communicate his vision to the church?


Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 12-8-2009

    I would suggest that the simple answer to your question is Scripture. The Hebrew term hāzôn probably relates to revelation either of divinely inspired prophecy or through divinely inspired wisdom (Waltke). Note that the qualifications for elder (Titus 1; 1 Tim 3) do not mention “vision.”

  2. 12-8-2009

    I agree w/ Charles. The scriptures give us God’s vision for the church in command and example. The idea of a man needing to have the vision for the church implies that what God has revealed is inadequate and we need to fill in the blanks.

  3. 12-8-2009

    I believe the vision was given clearly in Matthew 28 and Acts 1, and this seemed to be the vision the Apostles passed along, but of course they had a small vision not one with multi-layered organizational charts and programs! Those apostles were so short-sighted, glad all of the church planting organizations have not been so short-sighted.

  4. 12-8-2009

    I wonder if we’re asking the wrong question. Is there to be a “vision” for a gathering of believers? Paul just says that when we come together, we are all to function in the gifts of the Spirit so as to edify and build up the entire body. What’s there to have a “vision” about?

    Besides, when vocational pastors talk about “vision”, they usually mean the direction the corporation of which they are CEO will take with regard to financial and numerical growth. Nothing spiritual at all about it. It’s simply business. Not that I’d really expect them to admit that, of course, but that’s all it is.

  5. 12-8-2009


    I think that God can certainly reveal his vision for our lives (individually and corporately) through Scripture.


    Well, I’m sure no one would use the term “inadequate”. But people’s actions certainly make it look that way, don’t they?


    Tongue-in-cheek, of course. 🙂 You know how I love sarcasm.


    It’s good to see you around here again. You’ve been missed.


  6. 12-8-2009


    Not meaning to be pedantic, but I would suggest that your “can” should be replaced with “does.” I would also suggest that the Scriptures are the primary expression of God’s “vision” for His people individually and corporately.

  7. 12-8-2009


    I understand your concern. As you can tell from my blog, understanding and following what God has revealed to us in Scripture is extremely important to me.


  8. 12-9-2009

    Henry Blackaby’s “Experiencing God” study deals with this in the last two chapters. It is excellent. He unpacks this whole subject. Basically he says that God speaks his will to the whole church. If the church will be in prayer about it and talk about it in time they will come to unity about what God is saying.

  9. 12-9-2009


    I’ve heard Blackaby speak, but I haven’t read that book. (Yes, I know, every Christian – especially Baptists – are supposed to read Experiencing God.)

    Why do you think so few (at least in my experience) churches are willing to pray about it and talk about it until they come to unity?


  10. 12-9-2009

    Before you could be willing to pray about God’s purpose for a church you first have to be praying. I did not experience much prayer in traditional church. I often organized opportunities for prayer and those times were usually poorly attended even by those in leadership.

    Regardless of what is said a form of the old Priesthood is in practice today. The professional, the ordained, know God’s will better then everyone else. Those in the pews believe it and those who are getting paid to run the church allow this myth to continue.

    Furthermore the trend for churches to be bigger and bigger almost make it logistically impossible to practice some sort of collective unity even if it was sincerely desired.

    Finally I believe one big obstacle is that beyond giving or serving in the nursery most people who GO to church do not have a real sense of ownership of the church they attend. It is the pastors church. They go with the assumption that they will be expected to go along with what the leadership says. If you question that leadership most of the time you are ignored, avoided and labeled a trouble maker.

    When a church is a family everyone has a very strong feeling of ownership. When everyone is expected to contribute what God has given them everyone cares about what the family does. When those who are in parenting roles in this family see it as their roll to raise up those babies so that as soon as possible the babies are mature parents they will guide the family in such a way that everyone learns to hear from God, and obey what God says together.

  11. 12-10-2009


    Those are excellent insights. I’ve also seen instances where people (church leaders and others) were not willing to take the time to pray and reach consensus. They feel like they need to make a decision NOW.