This blog is for leaders who want to see their churches thrive by more intentionally engaging in God’s mission. The first question after I re-launched the blog was: What does “more intentionally” mean?
There are few questions I would rather answer.
In Western Christianity, churches overall take a “laissez-faire” approach to ministry. If new people want to check out the church, that’s good. If not, it’s fine. If members want to volunteer beyond Sunday, that’s great. If not, well, that’s their choice. If members stop attending services, the church might reach out to them.
Such churches are engaging in God’s mission. The congregations could more intentionally live into the Great Commission. Here’s a few ideas on how.
Change Models of Ministry
Well over a decade after the start of the missional movement, most churches still have an attractional model of ministry. Programs and services are offered to attract people to the church. All ministry occurs at the church facilities.
Shift to a Gather-Disciple-Send model. Instead of hoping to attract new people, go out and invite then. Organize all those programs and ministries into a coherent process of discipleship. Each week send members as missionaries in their daily lives.
Regularly hold events for members to bring guests.
Host meals and game nights and talent shows. Hold free medical clinics or educational experiences or public discussions. Whatever it takes to create opportunities for new people to meet members. Gather people to form relationships.
Focus your website.
The church website needs a tab for people visiting the website for the first time. And a tab for what to expect on a Sunday morning.
Help people find their way around the church campus.
Church leaders assume members and guests alike can find their way around the campus. Stop making that assumption. Improve signage, change landscaping, provide guides when groups are on campus.
Shift the focus from providing services to forming relationships.
It is good to provide space at church for community organizations. It is godly to provide social services to the community. But the highest calling of congregations is making disciples of Jesus. Relate all the activities to your church’s discipleship process.
Expand Corporate Prayers
In worship services, congregations pray for hurting members, overseas missionaries, leaders in public offices, etc. Expand the prayers. Every week pray for people in the community who do not know Jesus as Savior and Lord. Gather prayer request from local business, schools or neighbors. Offer the petitions, then get updates on how God has answered the prayers.
Send as many members as possible on short-term mission trips.
I see a pattern in churches. Congregations send members on short-term mission trips for a number of years. In time, the churches start to engage in local mission work on a regular basis. Some church members also begin to see their daily lives through a mission lens.
Make the church an integral part of the neighborhood.
God calls us to love our neighbors. It stands to reason God would call congregations to love their neighborhoods. Churches should become indispensable members of the community. The relationships formed through being part of the community are vital for making new disciples.
Celebrate milestones in discipleship for adults.
A great many churches celebrate milestones for youth, all the way through college graduations. It’s time to celebrate adults completing in-depth Old Testament or New Testament studies. Acknowledge participants who complete discipleship processes. Find creative ways to appropriately yet publicly thank leaders.
Preach, teach and model vocation.
Churches sending members into their daily lives as missionaries should equip members for that ministry. One essential biblical doctrine is vocation. The more clearly Christians understand God’s calling upon their daily lives, the better equipped they are to engage in God’s mission.
Regularly hold a Rite of Sending
Students head off to college. Members move because of job transfers. Retirees go to live near grandchildren. Stop just letting them disappear. Send them. Send them out as missionaries to new communities. Hold regular ceremonies in worship to send them.
Share additional ideas for more intentionally engaging in God’s mission in the comments or shoot me an email.