My second ministry position was a lesson in the danger of being a visionary.
The church was a two or three-year-old plant when I joined the staff, and it was full of life. We held services in a coffee house. Our music was intimate and unpolished. Our preaching was relevant. We staff members had a very clear picture in our minds of the ideal congregation, and everything we did helped move church members toward that picture. We were a testimony to Dietrich Bonhoeffer's observation in Life Together, that the zealous minister "set down for the first time in a Christian community, is likely to bring with him a very definite idea of what Christian life together should be and try to realize it."
I only wish I had read Bonhoeffer then. He goes on in the first chapter of that wonderful little book to explain the danger of vision for a church:
The man who fashions a visionary ideal of community demands that it be realized by God, by others, and by himself. He enters the community of Christians with ...1