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!