Monday, August 29, 2016

Transforming churches from maintenance-minded to missional

This past weekend I had the privilege of leading a conference for a Presbyterian district in northern Indiana on leading a church from a maintenance-mindset to a missional mindset. This is the second year in a row I've been invited to work with these pastors and lay leaders. We had about 35 people attend this event. They took a lot of notes and asked many good questions.

The majority of churches are stuck in a maintenance mode. Such churches have primarily an inward focus that is committed to caring for its members and less committed to serving those outside the church. When churches begin to go down the decline side of their life-cycle they also begin to move from an inward focus to a survival mentality. Now they become very risk averse and are very protective of whatever resources they do have. Although such churches can survive for years, this mindset will eventually lead to their death and eventual closure.

During this conference we covered a number of things churches can do to move to a more missional mentality, but it really begins with capturing a fresh vision from God for their future. The good news is that God does have a vision for each church; the bad news is many churches never understand what that vision is.

The mission of the church is found in the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. It is the same for all churches regardless of size. The vision is how a particular church will fulfill that mission today in the community they serve. For that reason, the vision will be different for each church. Because churches are made up of people with different spiritual gifts and different ministry passions, and because communities have different needs, the vision will be different for each church. It is not enough to try to copy what other churches are doing. Each church must discern God's vision for their church.

Without a fresh vision that is owned by the congregation a church will never move out of its maintenance mindset. Why should they? They have nothing to move towards. However, if a church captures a vision for ministering to those outside the church community it now has a reason to abandon its ruts and identify ways to better serve that community.

Our nation needs the church more than ever, but it needs a church that has a passion to fulfill the mission God has given the church and a vision for how to do that. I pray that your church will begin to make that move to a more missional mindset.

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