VisionCaster™? Is that from Fender?

kinnon —  March 31, 2009 — 15 Comments


I have a ’65 Fender Telecaster™. It’s a great guitar. One that makes me sad as I rarely get around to playing it.

Bought it from the son of my parents’ next door neighbours in 1978. For $300. Three months later that son wanted to buy it back. I declined. But that isn’t the reason for this post.

In the few minutes I had to read blog posts yesterday, I did manage to read one of my favourite bloggers. This blogger is of the more Emerging/Emergent type rather than missional (and yes, Virginia, there is a difference). The post mentioned this person’s church, with a link. I clicked. And wandered around the “really cool church” site for a while.

What surprised me was how much this apparently emerging church resembled all the other North American “heading towards megachurches (h2m™)”. The senior leader spoke at lots of conferences, wrote books and was an all-round cool person. The team players weren’t much different from those you’d find in any other expression of h2m™.

Even the opposite-gendered spousal unit of the senior leader was on staff. In the role of VisionCaster™.


Now, VisionCaster™ ain’t from Fender and doesn’t play all that well for me. The action’s set way too high and the intonation is terrible. (That’s a guitar joke.) In fact, I despise the term. It speaks of control (and hints of casting spells). It says that this person casts the vision (that they have supposedly heard from God) and the loyal gathered follow.

I don’t buy it.

I’m well aware of the proverb, in the King James rendering, that says, “where there is no vision, the people perish.” It’s the one used to justify the vision casting role. Even if to do this, the text must be eisegeted rather than exegeted.

If the casting of vision played such a central role in the church, one would think it would be easily found in Scripture. Yet, I don’t find VisionCasters™ in the New Testament.

Well. OK. There was Simon the Sorcerer.

What I find is a community gathered together, praying and hearing from God.

In fact, zipping back to Proverbs, Eugene Petersen translates the passage,

If people can’t see what God is doing,
they stumble all over themselves;
But when they attend to what he reveals,
they are most blessed.

In responding to issues in the Antiochian church, the apostles say, “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us…” Peter didn’t stand up and say, “I, Peter, the rock on whom our Lord says the church will be built, declare that this is God’s vision…” James did not stand up and say, “Hey, I’m Jesus’ younger brother. It’s a bloodline thing. I’ve heard from God and…” John didn’t stand up and say, “Any other vision than my vision is di-vision!” You get my drift.

The iMonk does a fabulous job of taking apart some of the present titular nonsense in the world of evangellyfishism in How Many Different Kinds of Pastors Are There?

Well Michael, I’d add VisionCaster™ to the list. Right next to Cultural Architect. Geez!

I need to go pick up my guitar and play. Just like (a long ago) yesterday. And hope we don’t get fooled again.



A television editor, writer & director since 1978. A Christian since 1982. More than a little frustrated with the Church in the West since late in the last millennium.

15 responses to VisionCaster™? Is that from Fender?

  1. You seem pretty long on criticisms of others and pretty negative about self absorbed people.

    But I notice your picture is all over the place on your blog and most of your writing tends to draw attention to yourself.

    Why are you copying the marketing techniques of the people you so harshly criticize for their marketing techniques?

  2. Ah Tom,
    The cogency of your argument, the thrust and parry of your critique, the true wit of your writing… Oh. Sorry. I was looking at one of the hundreds of pictures of me all over this site when I wrote that.

    I truly am sorry if the 1.5 pictures offend you, Tom. Is it my semitic nose or my glorious hair. (I confess that I am rather vain when it comes to my hair. It is gorgeous, don’t you think. So sorry if you’re folicly challenged and the pointing to my beautiful hair causes you any pain.) Or perhaps you are a latent anti-semite, Tom. Offended by my rather large nose (which does do a decent job of holding up a pair of glasses, I might add) which tells certain stories of my heritage – honouring, in all the space it takes up, my dear departed Nana, Lillianne Spilman.

    And Tom. Really. What else is there to write about, except myself. I’m… just… so…, how should I say, well, let me blunt… I’m just so dang interesting. That’s probably what brought you here. You needed to read the interesting guy over at and the rest of my faving fan(s) heartily agree with your decision to drop by.

    Just one small, dare I say, minute push back, though, Tom, my boy. I’ve scoured the site for both signs of intelligent life and copied marketing techniques – and have found neither. Since you so kindly took the time to drop by and leave a nice comment, I just thought I’d ask if you could take a brief moment more and help this tired old man understand. You see, any copied marketing techniques have been profoundly unsuccessful and, as, Everything Must Change™, I really must change them. I do so desire great Success in Life™.

    Oh, and Happy April Fool’s to you too. You forgot to add that to the end of your comment.

  3. And here I thought this was a personal blog … not the Body of Christ.

    You know … a group of people gathered together to represent God and his purposes to the rest of an aching and needy world.

    But if one were to confuse the two, well then …

  4. I’ll snag your guitar-plaing metaphor and suggest that some wonderfully healing music might emerge if we all chose to play from the score of the grand masterpiece that is the vision of God for humanity, and left it at that. So play on; I’m right there with ya brother.

  5. I’ll see your ’65 Tele and raise you a late-50s narrow-face tweed Fender Princeton amp. Bought in the mid ’70s off the son of friends of my parents for the princely sum of $40 (CDN). Saw one just like it not so long ago on Denmark Street (and, honestly, it was in worse nick than mine was) for £1250. Or so.

    Now, the off-loading of said Princeton also has a story. I took it to Ring Music off Spadina — it had to be in 1984 for a reason that will become clear. I had my eye on a Travis Bean guitar (remember them?) and the only way to get it was by trading in my wee Princeton. So there we were, in the back of the shop, while the guy went over my amp. There was no one else around. Then, who should come through the door, with a copy of his latest vinyl (remember that?) LP for the shop but Bruce Cockburn with “Stealing Fire”. I just sat, very still, jaw only slightly askew….

    Oh yes. As for the VisionCaster[tm] — my sentiments pretty much tally with yours.

  6. great post dude! as a guitar player, I own a “strat”…not a tele…of course, a tele always reminds me of “teleological” issues, but that is another story. I have other “casters” that I’ve seen on the market:

    “theracaster” – plays like butter and makes you feel good
    “preachacaster” – gives a great message with every note
    “herocaster” – has to be center stage – the egomania of guitars – people can’t take their eyes off it
    “sellocaster” – please buy my latest licks

    Oh well…this is dumb but you get the point!

    Loves in Jesus,

  7. YOU HAVE A 1965 TELE?!!!

    Seriously, VisionCaster sounds like one of those positions that act as welfare for relatives of the pastor.

  8. The iMonk nails it with our deliberate turning away from the term “pastor.” Shepherding, compassion, involved in the lives of people – who wants to do that anymore!? “Leadership” is where it’s at! – and “vision casting” is a very important way to have “influence.”
    And influence is WAY better than involvement. 😉

  9. Classic post Bill. Almost as good as your response to Tom (Pratt!)

  10. If this only was stuck in those “heading to megachurch” models. Currently, it is also infecting upper levels of denominations. This might make sense for Anglicans and Catholics, some sense for Presbyterians and Methodists, but no sense for Baptists (where I write from). Makes my head spin from time to time.

  11. Bill, I think many of us have a higher opinion of ourselves than we ought to but on the other hand God does think quite highly of His children (blunders and all). Over the years (we both have many) we realize how little we had right when we were sure everyone else was wrong. We are then often most critical of those we ourselves once were. Habakkuk 2 does speak of clearly sharing vision so those who read it can run with it. I guess we can interpret that the way we like.

  12. Sorry, Hillar, but I don’t find anything to that effect in Habbakkuk which deals with a prophet frustration with God using the Babylonians to judge Israel.

    I do find it interesting, though, that you appeal to the Old Testament rather than the New.

    I hear you, Rick. The infection spreads.

    Thanks, Tim. I appreciate the props and your always gracious and often fun comments.

    jan, when I grow up I wanna be an influencer of influencers, like my pal over at Letters from Kamp Krusty.

    Dan, indeed I do. And no, you can’t touch it.

    Robin, I’ve never been a Strat lover. And I’ve infected Liam, my oldest with a love for Tele’s – though he also yearns for a Strat. Love all the “casters” you lay out.

    David, I bought a Godin Acousticaster from Ring. Took it back a couple of months later and bought a Seagull with an LR Baggs pickup in it. Used to use that to lead worship. Now it belongs to the afore mentioned Liam. Can’t believe you got rid of the Princeton! Yikes. Listened to the new live Cockburn solo album this morning. Man can he play!

    Susan, I look forward to the day of hearing you lead us in worship. I may even be tempted to pull my dear old Guild acoustic out to join with you. And I’m glad you’re back blogging regularly again.

    Sonja, my ‘gator bud, thanks for stepping into the breach. Sure wish I could have made the call with the rest of the ‘gators this past week. The crazy project comes to an end in 17 days, tonight. Yippee. Assuming I survive, of course.

  13. I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about Bill. I was not disagreeing with you but simply pointing out something about “vision”. I am not commenting about your “VisionCaster” comments because I also do not see it in God’s word. I do however believe that a church needs a vision and a leader/pastor/elder/bishop/shepherd should have ears to hear what the Spirit of God is saying. People put leaders on pedestals at their own peril but let’s not throw the baby out with the bath water. Don’t get hung up on man-made terms like “VisionCaster”.

  14. What the @#$! is a cultural architect?

  15. Ha. In the mid-70’s, I acquired a 1961 Tele for some stupid low price. Didn’t ask questions. The seller had kept my phone number because, a couple days later, he called and demanded to buy it back. It was apparently his older brother’s axe (younger brother needed cash). The older bro was “going to find you anyway, so you had better just sell it back.” I did.

    I hope your ’65 is original. I stripped the paint off my ’58 Strat in high school, before they became collectible. 🙁

    Now that you mention it, I do notice that many of the younger “church leaders” are taking on fancy titles. Which doesn’t bother me. What bothers me is that most of these younger leaders have bought into the 1980’s corporate model of church growth – CEO (pastor) oriented, bigger = better, hierarchy vs. distributed, expert vs. lay, etc..


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