When ministry templates support the mission…a new couch is needed!
By church consultant, Rev. Dr. Barry E. Winders
When organizations filter their decisions and particularly their ministry templates through their mission they are being true to their reason or their “WHY.” As I watch the American church struggle for its purpose in a post-pandemic world new models for mentoring, teaching, and engaging others become paramount.
I once preached a sermon about a worn out couch and challenged listeners to remember to keep the mission at the forefront of their thinking and planning. Certainly, the old couch must go…but I cannot become so in love with the new one that I forget why we need it!
I used the illustration of how a family once selected a couch at a local furniture store and tested it out with the mission of sitting on a comfortable sofa. Today, however, after raising their children and experiencing five or six moves since the original purchase, this family kept the couch (with its stains and tears) with the hope that their grandchildren would adopt the couch for their comfort. But this was certainly not the case. Eventually, a generation came along and said, “I’m not sitting on your couches!”
Interestingly, people under fifty can’t appreciate sitting on ugly, outdates, stained couches. Nor can they tolerate the stories that go with all the stains. The point is simple. As an organization or individual clarifies their mission, eventually one must understand that new ministry templates must be created and risked to support the current mission that is much clearer than before.
Once upon a time, every existing church model supported the mission of the church and…then a terrible thing happened. A generation fell in love with the template at the expense of the mission. Then, sustaining or propping up the model became the mission of the church. Ministry templates that don’t support the mission of the church eventually impede the current mission or become an alternate mission. The community is a field which provides the mission and purpose for our work…we serve in obedience to Christ and love for neighbor and love for God.
A life purpose of this author is to raise every disciple’s mission consciousness and every congregation’s mission consciousness. Let me ask. Can you be “all in” with the concept of the Mission Filter over a ministry model? Can you be “all in” to use a Mission Filter as a method of straining out the things that are not healthy to the mission? Can you be “all in” seeing how critical the Mission Filter is to making disciples, transforming the world, and inspiring the next generation to be at least as much and hopefully more “all in” to the mission than you are? Do you see how critical the mission is because it becomes the next generation’s story that they carry into their future, which is now? Time for a new couch?
The Mission Filter, by Rev. Dr. Barry E. Winders (Westbow Press. 2021) is available at Amazon and Cokesbury. www.barrywinders.com