There's a line spoken by actor Tim Robbins in the academy award winning movie "The Shawshank Redemption" that's echoed later in the film by costar Morgan Freeman. It consists of seven words that have stayed with me ever since I first heard them: "Get busy living, or get busy dying." That poignant statement carries profound implications for churches as certainly as it does for individuals.
Churches die sometimes; the factory closes, the mill shuts down, the people move away, and the church just dies a natural death. The sign out front that used to read, "Worship, 11:00; Sunday School, 9:45" now says, "Flounder and hush puppies, every Friday night, all you can eat, $11.95." It's painful when a church dies.
There's one thing that can kill a church more quickly than anything else I can name, and it's something that was articulated by the writer of Proverbs generations ago. The warning is simple: "Without a vision, the people perish." Bill Hybels put a new spin on it when he said, "Without a vision, the people go to another parish!" Without vision, God's presence will soon be gone, leaving only lifeless, soulless, busy people going through the motions -- all the signs of a dying church.
"Get busy living, or get busy dying." Imagine Church has chosen to get busy living. Several days ago, our architects took first brush at a floorplan for our new church facility. The Leadership Team responded, "Make it bigger." So, instead of a 350-seat worship center, we are now looking at 400. Every Sunday out on the church site there are signs of new life, new visions, and new dreams being spearheaded by our children's and youth ministries and the multitude of new young families who have begun attending in recent weeks.
I've had some experience in this dreaming business over the years. I know that dreams can come true. The first step is to believe they can. We are those who have been privileged to see God perform his mighty acts through the young life of Imagine Church. As exhilarating as these few years have been, this may be the best time of all. Let's together dream a great dream for Jesus Christ.
In the name of the One who can do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine,
Bruce Jones, Pastor and Co-Creator,
Imagine Church of the Carolinas