Launching Missions

When is the last mission launch the church has done in your area? Has it been awhile? Over a decade? A couple of decades? Maybe the only mission launches you have seen or heard about are from mega-churches. Somehow they start off with lots of money and staff and resources. And they set up a mission launch. And bam, it takes off. And all the other churches get scared because they fear that the new launch will attract their people.

Here’s a few things to consider: 1. If your folks will be pulled away by a new shiny thing, then they weren’t committed to your church/mission to begin with. 2. It takes people and resources to launch a mission. 3. What if we aren’t approaching mission launches in the best way?

So in light of that, I’d like to offer a “proposal” of sorts.

Why do we assume that we can’t do mission launches any more? Often we get stuck on the idea that we need to buy land and build a building. I think we assume that a mission launch has to look like existing congregations. That those congregations are the model that we need follow.

Why? Because that’s how we’ve done it in the past?

What if things have changed? This is what I do know – things have changed. COVID caused a societal change. We have serious political challenges. We have economic challenges. We have a society that has serious trust issues among its people and with long standing institutions. We have serious poverty and homelessness issues. We have climate issues. We have violence issues. We have mental health issues. We have people who have core values and ideas that conflict seriously with others. It can feel overwhelming dealing with so many crisis at the same time. And yet, why are we assuming that our mission launches need to look like they did before we were dealing with all of this? That doesn’t make sense.

So what if we approached mission launches differently.

We need a combination of some things. We need holy creativity. We need to be open. We need to look at what God is already up to.

Instead of a pastor launching a mission on their own, what if there is a team working with a pastor/mission developer. A group who can help the developer get things going, can offer support in direct ways. Monetary support too. And other resources – technology being one. However, a community isn’t about the stuff. It’s about the people. A mission launch has a chance of succeeding if there is trust. Trust has to be the foundation. All the other stuff is built on the foundation. Without trust, the rest of the structure will fall down and crash.

One of the challenges we have as a church is that we’ve forgotten what a community is and what it means. Communities are built on trust. Communities are built on people being committed to something larger than themselves. That means they understand that they will not always get their way. That means having a privileged attitude about the community is harmful to the community – the idea that you deserve something or have earned something above others. A community means there are responsibilities of everyone in the community. It means that there are no unspoken assumptions and expectations. It means that people are equals.

The days of assuming that people understand community are over. This opens the opportunity for churches to reteach what community is. To start with the assumption that people don’t know. Start with this and you have a chance at getting a mission launch off the ground.

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