We face an ongoing challenge in planting, or leading churches today. It’s tough to stay committed to God’s mission of reaching the lost. It’s easy to fall into the pattern of doing church without really impacting lives with the transforming work of the gospel. It’s easy to lose the mission, while doing church! As I’ve listened, watched and experienced in various ministry settings, there are indicators that we have lost, or maybe haven’t had a missional edge.
#1 Lack of personal transformation of the leader(s). When we stop being shaped by God’s heart, in the deepest recesses of our soul, we lose God’s heart. And God’s heart is for the lost. Personal transformation keeps the leaders close to God’s heart for mission.
#2 Lack of personal outreach of the leader(s). Recently, I’ve been reminded again and again, leaders who don’t live outreach can’t lead outreach. Personal outreach constantly tenderizes the leadership heart for the broken around them.
#3 Sunday has become the mission. When ministry’s effectiveness is measured by weekend attendance, the mission has been lost. In missional churches, Sunday is the launching pad for a week of God’s people doing mission in their world.
#4 Transfer growth is the primary growth of the church and the church is okay with that. When this happens mission has slipped. We’re just shuffling sheep. And if that’s enough, see #3. Conversion growth is God’s desire and design for healthy church ministry.
#5 Paid professionals do the ministry because we want things done professionally. Our ministry values make it nearly impossible for lay people to be involved, except to serve the desires of staff. The mission requires that each believer be ready to use his/her gifts to bring the gospel to their world.
#6 We value image over substance. We want to look good. We want to feel successful. We want church to work like a well-oiled machine. We stop looking for deep, transformational, prayerful and messy change. It’s only when we are being shaped by the presence of Christ, that we can show people the Kingdom of God.
#7 We want immediate ministry success (usually defined as numbers), over ministry resilience. Ministry resilience (the ability to adapt, stay faithful and move forward in our world), requires enduring through trials over time while experiencing the faithfulness of God. Ministry resilience is what keeps a ministry on mission for the long haul.
My prayer is that the body of Christ will be led by pastors and churches who are committed to staying on God’s mission for the long haul. If we’ve lost the edge, I think regaining the edge must begin with #1 and #2. From there God can reshape his mission in us.
How have you seen these at work? Are there other indicators that you’ve seen or experienced?
Please share if you think this would be of encouragement to any others! Thank you.