Monday, September 14, 2009

faith : simple

This week, we rolled out our simplified, streamlined, concretized process for... well, everything we do and are at Pathway Community Church. In the past, we've had a mission statement, two vision statements, thirteen core values (separated into three categories), a church structure, an assimilation/discipleship strategy, and a set of Journey classes that we wanted everyone to take--in addition to all the other ministries and programs that we have operated--worship services, small groups, Awana, youth group, Soccer Camp, Dinner Theatre, Trunk or Treat, potlucks, etc.

As I said yesterday, individually each of those things is good, right, biblical, God-honoring, consistent with his purpose for his church, and so forth. But taken all together, it's a little overwhelming, confusing, complex, and just plain noisy.

As leaders, the elders and I recognized the need for a clearer, more focused approach--one that would be easy to communicate and easy to understand, one simple process that ties everything together. And this is it:

Here's how these things are now tied together:

  • Mission: To meet people where they are on their spiritual journeys and lead them to become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ. We began asking the question, "What does a fully devoted follower look like?", and we made a list of characteristics and qualities that someone would have if they were fully devoted to Jesus. Then we asked, "What do we do in our church that helps people acquire these character traits?" We identified these three areas as key in helping us accomplish our mission.
  • Ministries/Programs: We now have just three main things that we focus on. "Reaching Up" corresponds to our worship services. "Reaching Over" involves our small groups. And "Reaching Out" is tied to our ministry teams. By focusing on these three areas, we increase our effectiveness by being more intentional with each of them, making sure they relate to a specific part of the process of making fully devoted followers.
  • Core Values: These are now connected directly with the mission. First we help people reach up toward God (Real Spirituality). Then we help them reach over toward other believers (Real Community). Then we help them reach out through ministry (Real Story). The core values are now put into a step-by-step process, which helps people grow into acquiring a balanced, fully-developed Christian life.
  • Assimilation Process: This is the question of how someone becomes connected and attached to our church. The worship service is the front door--the most likely point of entry for a new person. The next step in helping them get connected here is moving them as soon as possible into a small group so that they develop strong relationships with other believers. The next step is to help them find a ministry that fits how God has shaped them so that they have a stake in the success and health of our church. Once they are a contributing member of the body, connected with other believers, and growing in their faith, they will be far more likely to work through the problems that come up, which might otherwise cause them to leave.
  • Immediate Vision: To trigger a dramatic reaction between our neighbors and Christ in a fusion of real needs and real love. This vision entails mobilizing people for ministry, which is also the objective of the simple process. Now we have a step-by-step process that will help us move people toward that goal. As we do, we will have a greater and greater impact on our community, which will bring glory and honor to God (Matthew 5:16), and which will attract people to a relationship with him through our church.
  • Broad Vision: To become actively involved in planting new churches to reach the 100,000 people in Jackson County with no church family. We believe this simple process will help our church become more effective at accomplishing our mission, which will lead to growth. With more people and more resources, we will be able to realize this vision, expanding the reach of God's kingdom through the planting of new churches throughout the county.

In essence, it's the difference between a light bulb and a laser beam. In many respects, they're the same thing (after all, light is light), but in practice they're vastly different. The laser beam is exponentially more effective than a light bulb because all the energy is focused.

You may look at this and say, "Well, we're already doing this." That's right... we have worship services, small groups, and ministry teams already. What's the difference? The difference is focus. The difference is applying all our strategic energy in this one direction. The difference is making sure that at each step of the process, something is happening that will help produce fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

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