Dave Furman is senior pastor of Redeemer Church of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. Redeemer Church was the first church plant of UCCD (United Christian Church of Dubai).
In a recent interview of Dave Furman, conducted by Ligonier Ministries and published on their web page, two things struck me as noteworthy. One was something that Dave Furman said, the other something that was not said. What was not said by Furman was that Redeemer Church was a church plant of UCCD. This seems strange to me. Nowhere in the entire interview is UCCD or John Folmar mentioned! UCCD sent some of their top notch individuals along with Furman to the new church, including Glen Jones, a very talented minister of music, and Mack Stiles, a notable author, preacher and undoubtedly the chief among elders at UCCD. Additionally UCCD members gave sacrificially to help with the funding of the church plant. I can’t help but wonder if some sort of rift now exists between the leadership of the two churches?
The thing that Furman said which caught my attention was a reference to “vision casting.” This phrase seems to be a buzzword among “hip” Christians these days. Whenever I hear the phrase warning bells go off in my head. The paragraph below is copied from the Ligonier Ministries interview:
“We didn’t really know how we would be able to stay or if it was possible for a church to be planted. While we investigated the answers to those questions, we studied the language and got involved in the life of an existing evangelical church in the city. By God’s grace, we were embraced by the leadership of the church and began meeting with people to cast vision for church planting, beginning with a church in the center of the city. Redeemer Church of Dubai was started in February 2010 in downtown Dubai to reach out to the diverse population in our city.”
What exactly does Furman mean when he stated that he “began meeting with people to cast vision for church planting?” Well, I guess he alone could clear this matter up for me, but lacking his input I can only speculate. Is the phrase merely an attempt by Furman to sound “hip” or “cutting edge?” Could what he said be phrased in the rather mundane manner of “we held some initial meetings to plan the new church plant?” Or has he bought into the whole notion of “vision casting” which seems to be so popular now among some mega-churches of questionable orthodoxy? If the latter I am worried about pastor Furman. I have found myself frequently quoting a blog written by a friend of mine, and I will once again turn to him for insight on “vision casting”:
“Vision casting is a concept advocated by Peter Drucker, (a noted Harvard business guru), adopted by the prosperity gospel heretics and popularized within mainstream evangelicalism by Rick Warren, Bill Hybels and the modern church pragmatists. This concept, simply stated, is that God gives a “divine” vision or mission to the pastor and it is the pastor’s responsibility to both God and his congregation to develop philosophy, strategy and practice that drives the behavior of the church members in such a way as to be in 100% agreement with this extra-biblical, “God-inspired” vision and to always be functioning in complete submission to the pastor’s ideas & methods in order to accomplish the goals of the vision. While most Christians would agree that radical individualism or narcissism is incompatible with biblical fellowship, I would contend that a membership covenant is a carnal means to overcome a spiritual problem and results in a works oriented approach to sanctification and community which undermines the very end it was designed to achieve. In addition I would contend that extra biblical visions do not come from God and the practice of vision casting is an attempt to manipulate church members to achieve an ideal state of community but in reality creates an illusion of community which will not withstand adversity, nor will it last long past the tenure of existing leadership. When the practice of requiring membership covenants is combined with a manipulative practice of vision casting, the end result is often an authoritarian, controlling and manipulative environment which results in abuses similar to those seen in the shepherding movement of the 70s and 80s. Current examples of this can be seen in the abusive and unethical actions taken by leadership at multisite churches like Mars Hill of Seattle and Sovereign Grace Ministries of Louisville, KY.”
Additionally I suggest you go to this blog for an in depth analysis of “vision casting.” In what the author states is the bottom line he says this:
“Vision casting is NOT a Biblical practice. Instead, it is a dangerous practice that by necessity turns a pastor into a false prophet the result of which will lead a congregation away from Jesus Christ’s mission and vision for the church.”
Finally, a pet peeve of mine is the misuse and overuse of the words “mission” or “missional” among christians attempting to sound relevant to the younger generation. Here is an example culled from Brian Chesemore, son in-law of, and fellow pastor with C.J. Mahaney at Mahaney’s run-away church plant in Louisville.
The relevant sentence is “We are saved into mission.” Is that a grammatically correct sentence? What does it mean? I have no idea, but it sure sounds cool.
For further information on “Vision Casting” read this article on the “Stand Up For The Truth” blog.