Thursday, June 14, 2012

Member values vs missionary values

In my book The Healthy Community: Moving Your Church Beyond Tunnel Vision. I quote Reggie McNeal who wrote "Member values clash with missionary values.  Member values are all about church real estate, church programming, who's in and who's out, member services, member issues (translated: am I getting what I need out of this church?)  Missionary values are about the street, people's needs, breaking down barriers, community issues (Translated: am I partnering with God's work in people?)."  The question for each church leader is which of these values best represents the thinking in your church?

Maintenance-minded churches focus primarily on member's values.  That is why these churches are often plateaued or declining, and usually declining.  If people are not having their needs met they will either go elsewhere or change the leadership in hopes that new leaders will meet their needs.  As members, they expect to be served.

Missional churches focus more on the missionary values.  The majority of their congregations see themselves as called to serve others, not to be served.  They seek to minister in the areas of their giftedness and passion to make a difference in the lives of people in their community.  They continue to enjoy great fellowship with other members of their church, but that fellowship is often in the context of ministering to the surrounding community.

The values your church focuses on will determine the look of your church five years from now.  I recently spoke to a men's group and told them their church will change in the next five years.  It will either have a number of new people attending who have been reached through your church's ministries into the community or it will be a smaller, grayer congregation.  Either way, it will change, and their decisions about whether they focus on member values or missionary values will determine which change they will experience.  The same is true of your church.


Tom said...

Great insight. I wish there was a way we could get our small church pastors to do a member value-missionary value comparison for their churches. Too often it seems fear keeps them from wanting to face the truth. If they can deny there is such an inward vision, then maybe someday before it is too late, God will work a miracle and they as pastor won't have to lead the change.

Dennis Bickers said...

Well said Tom. I agree that fear has a lot to do with pastors and lay leaders not wanting to take a hard look at their church's values. While helping churches identify their core values one of my biggest challenges is to get them to recognize their actual core values. They often identify the values they should have or those they believe others think they should have, but in fact are not part of the core values of the church. This is a way they deceive themselves. Until we are honest about what is driving our churches we will never make the necessary changes that need to be made.