A consultant, who visited our church whilst I was on sabbatical leave, made the suggestion that we ought to have some goals so big, so audacious, (so hairy?) that the achievement of them could only be put down to the activity of God.
Some examples of BHAGS were given, such as the goal of Henry Ford, to make a motor car available to every man in the United States at a price he could afford on his pay packet, to make the horse redundant from the carriageway and provide thousands of jobs for ordinary Americans. I think Ford achieved this goal although it helped wreck the planet in the process.
The goal of Sony was to change the way people thought of Japanese goods. Once upon a time 'made in Japan' meant 'shoddy.' I don't recall that, but people only slightly older than me do. They achieved their goal. The goal of Sony was to make 'made in Japan' a symbol of quality and Sony a world-recognised brand. Achieved.
This latter goal was slightly better in terms of altruism. It had the interests of the whole of Japan at heart rather than one company but today it has contributed to the death of manufacturing in this country - on the Now Show on Friday Midge Benn referred to us again as 'Service Centre Britain.'
It is so difficult to pitch a manufacturing goal that will not, albeit accidentally, cause one set of people to suffer whilst another gains.
Today on Radio 4 the motoring correspondent of the Today Programme, Quentin Quinn suggested that it was madness to assume that anyone would buy a green car unless they were given an incentive.
Recently this blog has seen some traffic about whether people are fundamentally bad or good. I wonder what conclusions we should draw from the above? I would like to suggest that although we might say we mean well, are not selfish and do look out for the needs of others, when it comes to the big picture - making sacrifices for the needs of more global neighbours, we are nowhere.
Back to the BHAGS. If any attempt at setting a goal will fall short of something that is of genuine good to the whole community (global and local) however well-intentioned it is then why not let the God we believe in set the goal. 'Hey Lord', we shout. 'Your call'.
We say that we want things, or want to imagine things, that couldn't happen without the intervention of God. The thing is we then try to make these things happen so that there is no difference between the way a church implements its vision and Sony, or Ford.
An example of something that might happen that couldn't have happened without God would be a growth in numbers of 100 a week without any change to our activity. If we want something to happen that we didn't make happen we shouldn't make it a target.
How about if we try to keep the church more secret apart from those who want to come? Take down the signs. Stop leafleting the neighbourhood. Don't invite people to anything unless they ask. If in these circumstances we grew, it couldn't have been down to us. Could it?