I was asked to write something about Mission Development and Redevelopment – here it is.
I need to make a confession. I love the church. I love the idea of the church- the promise of community coming together and the opportunity to work together for good. To me, church is the entity that has the power to change the world if we truly align ourselves with the calling of Christ. I love the church. But I also struggle with the church. I struggle because I see the church having the inability to live into the mission of what Christ has called us to do because we get caught up in the mentality of maintaining what we have. Language of, “we have always done it that way” and the reality that change is so hard often leads to a paralysis of fresh ideas and new ministries in our existing churches. Please know I love the church. Also know that I write this from the perspective of one currently serving a mission congregation that is around eight years old and who has been part of many churches that have faced the harsh reality of doing things the same…just because we have always done that.
Here’s the deal. Mission Developments (new churches) and Mission Redevelopments (churches that undergo serious re-visioning) offer the church as we know it an incredible opportunity to be bold in ways that established churches just can’t. Now, I am not saying that established churches cannot be bold and cannot do God’s work- remember I love the church. But, my experience the last eight years and my conversations with people new to the church or back to the church for the first time in years suggest that this claim is true.
This is what I have heard. A new start or restart allows one that has felt their voice was not heard to be heard. A new start or restart allows a community of faith to listen to what the community around them needs in a way that an established church cannot. A new start or restart has little baggage and has the freedom to be as simple or complex as it wishes without fear of hurting the history. A new start or restart allows a new person to come in and not feel like a new person because everyone is new. A new start or restart has the ability to be fresh and different. A new start or restart is hard.
Back to my confession. I love the church. And I love to think of what the church can be doing better and what the church can be doing next. I know that new starts and restarts have to be part of that because I have seen the power they have first hand. Yes, it’s hard work but if we don’t do it- who will?