Sunday, March 30, 2008

defining your missional life

So in Luke 10, Jesus sends out the 70/2 in mission. And he suddenly looks around his empty church. Stink. This won’t look good next Sunday. Who will do sound? What will visitors say? What will the denomination think?

And then he wakes up in a cold sweat. Can those 70/2 be trusted? What if they don’t get the mission right? What if they aren’t faithful in gospel transmission? What if they don’t come back?

So much of our life and identity as church has historically been defined by Sunday. Yet missional church is about following Christ outside the building, about inviting ordinary disciples into God’s purposes in settings beyond are physical control.

It suddenly occurred to me this morning that so much of Opawa’s life actually now happens outside Sunday morning church.

Every year the denominational statistical sheet arrives. They want to know our attendance and our baptisms. Yet you can no longer simply can’t define us by Sunday. You need to count the community kids enjoying mainly music or watch us at the Waltham Community Fair on Friday. You need to note the visitors at the family movie night. You need to check out our other 4 congregations. You need to interact with the God at work group, quietly practising spiritual practices in their work place. You need to be part of the Thursday nite youth forum, and watch parents, pre-teens, grandparents, youth group leaders and community youth, multiple small groups all over our church foyer, talking, dreaming, praying.

How are those things named? How do we keep Sunday morning up to date with all of this energy? How do we share the sheer enormity and diversity of these stories when we gather? What practices sustain this type of scattered energy?

Posted by steve at 09:34 PM


  1. was thinking about some of these questions once again just last night as I was filling in one of those denominational forms – where it was asking for indicators and only included numerical and financial; I commented that we used a wider variety of indicators and committed us to continue to develop further this wider variety. Also, was thinking this morning – what practices are needed for the kind of new learning that is constantly required for leadership today???

    Comment by Barb — March 31, 2008 @ 2:30 am

  2. I wonder if it is about defining what is actually important to us (mission / worship / numbers of people in programs), and then redefining the questions. Maybe the question should be ‘how many families are engaged meaningfully by the life of the congregation – members of the church / community members’? As a someone in leadership in a denomination, I find stats really helpful. They indicate trends and allow me to resource ministries more effectively. But we do need to ask the right questions, and we aren’t at the moment!


    Comment by nigel — March 31, 2008 @ 9:31 am

  3. yes yes yes … I hear you brother!

    Comment by lorna (see-through faith) — March 31, 2008 @ 9:50 pm

  4. Nigel,
    I absolutely agree with you that trends are important. I am committed to research. I am so glad my doctor takes my blood pressure and temperature. But I am just wondering what we should be measuring in a missional life, and how to do that realistically?

    steve taylor

    Comment by steve — April 1, 2008 @ 5:13 pm

  5. Steve

    Good points. Are we wanting to measure activity, results or effects / outputs, outcomes or consequences? I suspect that each of our official programs (let alone the unofficial ones) measure effects very differently.

    I also suspect we want to see effects or consequences, but find it easier to measure activities.

    Personally (and off the top of my head), I’d like to be able to measure two things: People / families whose lives have changed for the better as a result of my congregation’s mission: People loving God and neighbour more (than the last measure).

    Love to hear others respond to these …

    Comment by nigel — April 1, 2008 @ 6:56 pm

  6. hmmmm, as researcher for this denomination, i WOULD have to point out that the form also asks for attendances of other stuff: the missional movie night, the small groups, the mainly music programme, the youth group, and all the congregations. i suspect the “problem” is more a sunday-morning-perception one than a denominational one… that people internally can miss the breadth of stuff that happens around them. having said that, i acknowledge willingly that said form can’t capture the breadth of life and experience that the church enjoys, reflects and gifts. 🙂 one possible practice? using the pastoral prayer to celebrate the breadth of the week gone… (A3 sheet in office enables stuff to be noted down that gets incorporated into prayer)

    Comment by lynne — April 2, 2008 @ 10:40 am

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