MT6 – From Maintenance to Mission

Missional Transformation is a process where believers align themselves (passions, desires, behaviors, habits) with the redemptive mission of Jesus. This results in adopting the posture of a missionary in order to engage those in the culture with the Gospel message, and recognizing that every believer has been sent by Jesus as a missionary with the Good News of Salvation together in community with other believers to their specific geographic and cultural context.

Essentially, it’s becoming a missionary everywhere you are! Missional Transformation requires significant shifts in the way you participate with Christ and His kingdom.

Shift 6: From Maintenance to Mission

My friend Jim Ryan lamented to me over a cup of coffee, “Too many churches are trying to prohibit themselves from dying that they cannot live.” Why is this? For many churches it is because they have adopted a maintenance mentality.

In the early development of church plants, there is a driving commitment to a redemptive mission. However, as more Christians start attending, the greater the temptation to focus on the needs of the members. Rather than devoting time, resources and energy on fulfilling the Great Commission, ministry to those within the “church family” becomes the priority and drains all available resources.

The challenge to maintain programs and activities for those on the inside becomes greater as more and more Christians transfer from other churches. While it may appear that church attendance is increasing, it is often not as a result of reaching lost people with Gospel. Maintaining ministries that focus on the needs of Christians takes priority over reaching the lost. This can be seen by evaluating the annual church budget and church calendar. The majority of resources and events are directly focused on keeping those inside (a.k.a., the church family) happy and satisfied.

Missional Transformation requires an abandonment of this maintenance mentality. Resources, energy and focus must be redistributed toward fulfilling the redemptive mission of Jesus once again. Pastors and church leaders need to stop serving the members and start serving those in the culture around them. Leadership gifts need to focus on equipping and empowering believers as missionaries in their local neighborhoods and community.

Imagine what would happen if instead of attempting to keep members happy and filling more seats on Sundays, local churches made it their constant focus to see a significant decrease in the number of unbelievers who live within walking/driving distance of their church campus. Ever since I started Lake Hills Church in Castaic, we’ve kept track of attendance figures. We’ve paid attention to increases and decreases each weekend. We’ve faithfully reported these numbers on denominational annual statistical reports. But why? Does it really matter if more people are showing up each week when the numbers of people in our zip code that don’t belong to Jesus isn’t decreasing?

What good does it do to keep on feeding Christians and serving Christians and enjoying a beautiful campus and wonderful worship (“doing church” each week) if church members aren’t engaged in missional activities? From heaven’s perspective, it doesn’t do any good at all.

(Note – I’m not against teaching God’s Word and worshipping Jesus! That’s essential. However, it seems meaningless if believers are not advancing Jesus’ mission together!)

The mission of the church cannot be ignored!

Maintenance doesn’t get the mission accomplished!

A critical shift is desperately required!

Author

Dave DeVries

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Dr. Dave DeVries is a coach, trainer, author and founder of Missional Challenge. He is passionate about coaching and training church planters and missional leaders. With 30+ years of church planting and leadership development experience, Dave brings his passion and encouragement to those he trains and coaches.
2 replies
  1. David Malouf --
    David Malouf -- says:

    Push-back on Paragraph 5…
    1) “Resources, energy and focus must be redistributed toward fulfilling the redemptive mission of Jesus once again.”
    — this seems to miss Paul’s view of “the Gospel” as being WAY more than “becoming a Christian.” Redemption doesn’t stop just because one is a “believer.” The “redemptive mission” continues “inside” the local church

    2) “Pastors and church leaders need to stop serving the members and start serving those in the culture around them. Leadership gifts need to focus on equipping and empowering believers as missionaries in their local neighborhoods and community.”
    — that seems a little self-contradictory; first sentence = outside the local church, second sentence = inside the local church.

    Push-UP on the rest . . .
    1) Death prevention prevents Life — that’s a BEAUTIFUL parallelism! And so incredibly true! It seems to mirror the U.S. diet paradigm!

    2) “Maintaining ministries that focus on the needs of Christians takes priority over reaching the lost.”
    — this statement, while true-ish, continues the problem addressed in point #2 of your next post, “Churches don’t understand the Gospel.” The Kingdom of God is NOT simply the insides of the local church. But neither is it everything OUTSIDE the local church. Swinging too far the other way will, at least in my logic, produce anemic Christians who are good at “doing”, specifically, “reaching”, but not much else. The Gospel / redemption doesn’t stop when someone is a Christian nor when they are “in” a local church.

    I really like this post in combination with the next one!

    Malouf

  2. DaveDV
    DaveDV says:

    Thanks for the feedback David! I love it!!!

    1) Assuming that the redemptive process continues after the point of salvation, shouldn’t Christians actively join in that process? Too many believers ignore any responsibility to actively engage in any aspect of Jesus’ mission.

    2) Okay. But it is a both/and, not either/or proposition. Pastors cannot focus exclusively on serving the needs of the members. They need to engage those in the culture around them. AND…they ought not do that by themselves. They must equip every believer to be on mission wherever they are! That’s not self-contradictory in my little world. :-)

    3) Jesus said, “For whoever wished to save his life shall lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s shall save it.” (Mark 8:35)

    4) The Body of Christ must continue to make disciples of non-disciples which requires being “firmly rooted and being built up in Him and established in your faith” (Col. 2:7). BUT, in too many churches, once a person becomes a Christian and gets plugged into a local church, they forfeit relationships with non-Christians. They may be growing in grace, but they aren’t extending that grace to others. They may be transformed, but they aren’t helping others to be transformed.

    Somehow, Christians need to understand that conversion is not the mission of the church! The church exists to extend the kingdom!

    I’ll try to reflect more on this in a future post…

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