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Giving the vision to runners, not walkers, standers or sitters.

“Then the LORD answered me and said: ‘Write the vision; make it plain on tablets, so that a runner may read it.’”

Habakkuk 2:2

The book of Habakkuk.

I love saying that. But to my shame, I have not often read the wisdom contained in this great, prophetic Biblical book. When we do take the time to study it, we see God instructing the prophet to write down the vision, so that it is plain, can be understood easily, and can be given to a “runner.”

At our St. Christopher’s youth church, our vision can be boiled down to 3 simple principles, or “spiritual DNA strands” as we call them. The “tablet” they are written on is a specially designed roll-up banner that we have displayed at the main door to every youth church service. Hopefully, they are “plain” enough to be understandable to all, as follows:

We are a church that is:

1) By youth for youth.
2) Outward facing.
3) Seeking to grow followers of Jesus.

That’s it. We try to remind our young people of this vision at every opportunity. Hopefully, these spiritual DNA strands are so plain that they require minimal explanation, but just in case, here goes:

1) Everything we do is for our young people, and wherever possible it is done by them too.

2) “The church is the only institution that exists primarily for those who are not its members.” This statement, or a variant of it, widely attributed to Archbishop William Temple, is our raison d’etre. We remain fully focused on passing on the life-changing Gospel message to those who have not yet heard it.

3) In a world, and even a worldwide church, obsessed with leadership, our aim is to grow young people who are simply great followers of Jesus. As we’ve read the Gospel accounts together, we have not found a single occasion when Jesus asks anyone to be a leader. He seems to simply require people to follow Him, and so do we. As we get that right, we believe leadership, as God requires it, will take care of itself.

As we move into 2023 together, we are learning the importance of giving the vision to runners. Our St. Christopher’s foundation scripture (Psalm 1:1-3) reminds us that not everyone is a runner. There are also walkers, standers and sitters. Of course, we have no idea which category any of our young people are in at any given time. What we do know is that we have been blessed with a disproportionately large number of “runners” who make things happen. The job of those of us tasked with overseeing our youth church is to simply keep on casting the vision and, if the previous 12+ months are anything to go by, enjoy the privilege of watching in amazement as our young people run with it, whatever they do prospering, as they continue to grow a church which yields its fruit in season.

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither — whatever they do prospers.”

Psalm 1:1-3