By Bob Lupton, Founder
I love visions. Some have called me a vision junkie. FCS has been the ideal place for me to hatch new ideas for addressing and alleviating poverty. Its open structure has fostered an environment of innovation that has been a magnet for other visionaries as well. A “Kingdom playground” I have described it – a place where God’s children can bring their favorite toys, tools and talents and create things of eternal value.
Form has always raced to keep up with function. The creative chaos has driven our bookkeepers nearly mad. And so it has been for the past nearly four decades. Board members more like cheerleaders than directors, budgets always in flux, future plans as unpredictable as the wind of the Spirit. It has been wonderful! Surprisingly, this churning energy has developed into a decent-sized organization that has produced some rather remarkable results.
In my maturing years, I have come to realize that visionaries are a bit like adolescents. We love to create, to initiate, to ignite, but our focus seems to stray when we have to administrate these visions. Fortunately, FCS has been blessed with capable management types who have been persistent and patient and flexible enough to responsibly steward good visions. And thus we have hop-scotched our way forward.
But with the advent of fresh leadership (effected by my promotion to president emeritus), our new and very gifted President / CEO team have launched for the very first time a strategic planning process. A top notch consultant was engaged, a thorough analysis of our mission (our strengths as well as weaknesses) was conducted, board structure was evaluated, and a reorganization strategy was set in motion. Priorities have been established, goals have been set, and budgets have been refined. FCS is finally growing up!
So what happens to visionaries when an organization matures? The good news is that a fresh, new generation of energetic visionaries has already emerged within FCS. They have opened a new grocery store in the “food desert” of South Atlanta, started a new urban academy to assist churches and charities in community transformation, launched plans for a state-of-the-art youth development center – to name just a few. With a well-managed organizational structure to support them, these new visions (as well as the mature ones) will flourish long into the future.
The ancient prophet Joel foretold a time when the Spirit of God would be poured out upon humanity, a time when "...your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams." Perhaps that time has arrived for FCS. As the “senior statesman” in the organization, I am much more effective these days at dreaming dreams than implementing visions.
Launching visions takes boundless energy – the kind of renewable resource with which young people are abundantly blessed. New visions still excite me, but my energy reserves don’t match the demand. So telling stories that that inspire visions in others seems the more fitting role for me. Which makes me an ideal senior faculty member for our urban academy.
Old visionaries never die - they just become dreamers.