Over the last couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to sit with many pastors seeking to increase the missional posture of their church. As expected, this has proven to be easier for some than others, and more of an art form than a science.
But among the many variables, we’re beginning to see a few common threads emerge among those seeming to gain “missional momentum”. Here are the top three practices we’ve observed.
1. Those pursuing the “and” of EXALTATION and INCARNATION.
As church leaders, we often make the mistake of thinking what we do on Sunday and what we do throughout the week operate independently of one another. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, the majority of our weekday ministries pick up where Sunday leaves off. Missional momentum seems to be directly impacted by how effectively we utilize our gatherings to give bible precedence, priority of vision, and permission for our people to live on mission throughout the week.
2. Those discovering new ways to ENGAGE the NEEDS of their community.
Missional flow draws attention to the natural process necessary to engage an “unreached” people group. It starts with (1) engaging culture, then (2) forming community (on mission), followed by (3) creating structure or congregation. At the very core of a biblically missional effort lies a demand to engage culture. We just cannot engage culture without engaging the needs of the culture. Churches gaining the most momentum seem to be those utilizing existing structures to meet the needs of their community – as much as – or even before their own.
3. Those recognizing what they CAN’T do and HELPING others who CAN.
Many church leaders today are starting from a good place: Reality. For some, the ship they are trying to turn makes the Titanic look like a two-man raft. In their wisdom and experience, they are piloting groups rather than blowing up ministries and starting over. They are pioneering new strategies through existing structures. But they know it will take time… and they can’t do it all at once.
This is where church planting and partnering with existing ministries or non-profits comes to play. A surprising amount of missional momentum is being found by churches committed to helping others plant churches or who are willing to partner with those already engaging the needs of culture in ways they’d find difficult to do themselves.