While on vacation I engaged in reading some interesting books. (Some people are addicted to alcohol and drugs. I am addicted to books!) One of them was Will Mancini’s Church Unique. While written for the large regional church, it has great insights for churches of all sizes, types and strips. A number of quotes caught my attention and I pass them on for your reflection. “Make no mistake: our change management problems today are vision problems first and people problems second. Many leaders want their people to run a missional marathon but unknowingly feed them junk food, leaving them malnourished and unprepared for the future.” (From Church Unique by Will Mancini, pg. 47) In my travels I encounter people hungry for strong biblical teaching. So many people are thirsting for deeper theological reflection. I think we have undercut people with our low expectations. Every pastor ought to be engaged in some deep study of their own. My hunch is that we would find some wonderful lay people eager to join us. Or try this one: “Nestled in the Suburbs of San Jose, California, is an interesting tourist attraction: an estate built by the heir of the Winchester rifle fortune. In 1884, a wealthy widow named Sarah L. Winchester began a thirty-eight-year construction project guided by a superstitious fear. Evidently, Mrs. Winchester was convinced by a medium that continuous building would appease the evil spirits of those killed by the famous ‘gun that won the West’ and help her attain eternal life. So Sarah kept carpenters’ hammers pounding twenty-four hours a day. The Victorian mansion came to be filled with so many unexplained oddities that it is now known as the Winchester Mystery House. Even though it has 160 rooms, three elevators, forty staircases, and forty-seven fireplaces, its size alone does not account for the architectural marvel – what does so is the bizarre purposelessness of the design. Stairs lead into the ceiling; windows decorate the floor, and doors open into blank walls! Random features reflect excessive creativity, energy, and expense, from exquisite hand inlaid parquet floors to Tiffany art glass windows. Busyness, not blueprints, defined success. The Winchester Mystery House is an accurate picture of what a church looks like in the absence of vision; there is lots of activity with little progress or purpose. Interesting programs and exquisite sermons do not necessarily lead to a meaningful whole. Structure exists for structure itself and not for life.” (From Church Unique by Will Mancini, pg. 40-41) Ouch, I think we have structures that exist for structure itself. It takes 31 pages in our Conference Journal to list all the Conference Committees and their membership. The intent is good and godly. In too many places the results are stairs leading into the ceiling and windows decorating the floor. Our Conference Alignment Task Force is wrestling with mission driven redesign. The structure was made for the church not the church for the structure!