I’ll never forget sitting down with a seasoned church planter from another denomination who received my direct mail and offered to take me out to lunch for extra encouragement.
I proudly laid before him my mission, vision, values, strategy, and a host of other things people told me I needed at church growth conferences.
Mid-way through lunch, he smiled and said, “Please don’t be offended, but you remind me a lot of my four-year-old when she plays ‘dress up with my wife’s clothing.”
I wasn’t too thrilled with that statement at the time, but now I recognize the wisdom in what he was saying.
Typical Philosophy of Ministry
Most church growth books and blogs recommend you craft a well-defined philosophy of ministry before you launch out with anything new.
This may sound counter-intuitive, but my suggestion is that you don’t do this.
Filling in all the philosophy of ministry blanks before you embark on a new venture ought to sound as strange to us as an expectant mother saying, “It’s going to be a boy and he’ll be six feet five, love soccer, enjoy horseback riding, marry a girl from Texas, and work in a bank.”
Who would presume to know anything about a baby that hasn’t been born yet?
Why would an emerging church be any different?
Forgetting Mission, Vision, Values, and Strategy
The issue is contextualization.
Too often we assume we know what God wants a church to become years in advance. Don’t make that mistake.
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You don’t want to create the right church for the wrong area.
I tell Senior Pastors that I coach that if you are planting a church or leading an established church in growth:
All you start with is a very simple mission statement.
Then as you observe what really works in your context, you identify and give vocabulary to what God is doing as it emerges.
Yes, as church leaders we are called to find out what God wants the team to do next. However, in my experience, it has been helpful to discover that God only shares one leg of the journey with you at a time.