The future in reverse

Read through the following poem.

Our project never dared to set a bold vision
No one will ever say
“This community lives for something radical.”
That is wrong, the truth is
We are often unchallenged, going through the motions.
Thinking that
We actually succeeded.
Is a waste. And we know
Being comfortable and safe
Is the way to go
Stepping out personally to grow
Is a dumb thing to do.
Forgetting about lost opportunities
Will not be easy, but we will try.
Growing in faith as active disciples
Is something we never did.
Playing nice friendly church on the hill
Was how we handled our purpose
Taking risks
Was not acceptable.
We knew that
People wouldn’t want to belong to this faith.
It might be true,
Unless we turn things around

Now read it backwards.


Adapted from an original poem “Our Generation” by Derek Nichols, from North Carolina.


  • Is it possible for a person, or a community to grow without taking any risks?
  • What happens when a project ‘bites off more than it can chew’ in a vision or mission plan?
  • A vision planning day and a poster on the wall are common approaches to this aspect of project planning. What might be more life giving, visible, connected processes for creating and celebrating a vision?
  • How do you vision with people who have different appetites for risk? What generates courage in a group?
  • How might individual discipleship relate to a broader project vision?
  • How does our theology inform the way a vision is developed?
  • How often should vision be re-explored?
  • Who is responsible for a vision being lived out? How might this expectation be communicated?
  • What happens if there are different visions being shared across a community?

Wisdom from the pews

“Vision can be thought of in many ways, but one is to look at it as a temperature – too hot and there’s a lot of pressure. A lot of movement and things can feel chaotic and reactive. Not enough and everything is cooled off, reserved and slowed down. ”

“Setting a vision that is too achievable can take the growth and energy out of participation and belonging. “If life in a community of faith is comfortable, I don’t want it.” Conversely, an alive vision, shared meaningfully with everyone and combined with a healthy sense of urgency can create momentum. ”

“Keeping an eye on how the community is travelling with the levels of risk taking and pressure is a valuable leadership contribution. This pattern plays out in individual discipleship journeys as well – each individual will need encouragement and support to move towards the edges of their comfort zone and grow “I used to be scared of doing the bible reading. Within a year I’m now praying in front of church and even training as a lay preacher.” ”

Going deeper

From Death to Life - an online course from The Work of the People

“Wondering what’s possible after the losses that come with a shifting faith? Missing God after a faith deconstruction and longing for ways to engage spiritually again? Tired of being angry at the church and ready for something new? Wanting to develop some fresh spiritual practices? Longing to use your gifts to and passions to create more love, justice, and beauty in the world? Hoping for a safe space to share with other kindred spirits who are trying to find their way in the spiritual wilderness, too?”

This online six week course from The Work of the People is a fantastic way to begin processing your faith experience, struggles with church and possibilities for the future.