Well, we’ve done it. A congregational task force I chaired for seven months has unleashed a 51-page report full of 150 or so recommendations for how to move into the future toward which God is drawing us.

And it’s thrilling to see these ideas starting small fires, serious debates, excited buy-in and constructive confusion.

We called our task force “GPS” on the theory that our report would serve as a compass or global positioning system. Because my congregation is Second Presbyterian Church of Kansas City, we finally decided that GPS stands for “God’s Purposes for Second.”

Though some of our recommendations are unique to Second and won’t easily transfer to other congregations, some might work for your congregation.

But perhaps as important as our suggestions was the work we did to understand our current context.

We created report sections labeled “The Reality Now in Our World” and “The Reality Now for Second.” In them we shared the results of our cultural exegesis — our effort to grasp how church fits into a world stunningly different from what it was 50 or 60 years ago when our congregation had more than 2,000 members, compared with the 650 on our rolls now.

In global positioning terms, we were “acquiring satellites” and figuring out just where on the map we are.

If your congregation plans similar visioning work, such cultural exegesis is vital. And, by the way, we chose to avoid “strategic planning” language of “strategies,” “objectives,” “goals” and “tactics” because we didn’t want to be seen dumping a business-world strict master plan on our people. (The Holy Spirit seems freer than that.)

Instead, we wanted to help people think about their passions for mission, for music, for education, for evangelism, for whatever. And we wanted them then to find themselves in the report — which is to say, to find that place in the report that speaks to their own gifts and interests.

In the end, our task was to hold up a mirror to the congregation so members could see the fabulous talents and possibilities among our people and then turn their eyes toward the needs both inside and outside our doors.

The danger in doing all of this, of course, is that we’ll turn up fearful people who want nothing to change. But that happens any time change is in the air.

The danger of not creating this report and not getting people to read it and move toward implementing some of our recommendations, however, was that we would slide toward oblivion, missing countless opportunities to introduce people to Jesus Christ to transform their lives.

When Karl Barth introduced the second edition of his “Epistle to the Romans in 1921, theologian Karl Adams said it was “the bomb that fell on the playground of the theologians.”

We claim nothing so momentous for our GPS report, but in some ways its release feels as if we have lit dozens of small incendiary devices — not to destroy but to create passion for the gospel and for our efforts to share that with the world. May it be so.

Bill Tammeus is an elder at Second Church in Kansas City, Mo., and former Faith columnist for The Kansas City Star. Visit his “Faith Matters” blog. Read about his latest book. E-mail him at