This is the time of year when many of us make New Year’s resolutions that are intended to be life-changing. The challenge is that most life change does not happen overnight! Running a marathon, for example, takes months of training. Daily practice slowly shapes muscles and develops endurance until running 26.2 miles is possible.
Looking at our congregations, we may wish that we could magically create a mission-shaped congregation with one event, one sermon, or one service-project. However, like our new year’s resolutions, becoming a mission-shaped congregation takes many small steps, all headed in the right direction.
As you plan 2019, I encourage you to consider some small steps that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, will develop a mission-shaped congregation over the course of this year:
- Neighborhood Prayer Walks: In teams of two, walk the streets of a particular neighborhood on a regular basis, praying for wherever you see the Holy Spirit at work, bringing unity and healing, as well as asking for God’s intervention where there is brokenness and division.
- Take a City Leader to Lunch: Invite the mayor, a police officer, or a school administrator to lunch, and ask them about their work. Ask them where they see your city hurting, and where they see hope. Listen for where the Spirit is at work. Let what you learn shape your prayers and your actions in your community.
- Attend the Canoeing the Mountains Event: This book is a must-read for ministry leaders in today’s post-Christian context. Spend a day with the author and other ministry leaders to think about how it applies to your situation.
- Develop a Deeper Connection with a Missionary: Which missionaries does your church support? These courageous people have a lot to teach us about how they are sharing the gospel in a secular context. Invite them into your next Outreach Team conversation via Zoom (or a similar video call) to see what you can learn from them. (We can provide you with contact information for any Resonate missionary).
- Host an Adult Education Workshop: Our Great Lakes Regional Mission Team members are available to lead short workshops in your church that provide practical tools for engaging your neighborhood. Invite us to come show you how to map your neighborhood, develop simple experiments, or view the demographics of your community.
- Include a Practical Preaching Application: Sermons should always include a practical application of hope and grace for the person in the pew. As you develop this portion of your sermon, ask yourself another question: how would the person in the pew voice this hope and grace to their neighbor?
- Visit a Church Plant and/or Campus Ministry: These ministries are a testimony to the spiritual transformation that is happening around us today. Every church planter and campus minister in this region would love to share their ministry with you and tell you what God is doing among and through them. Their evangelistic fervor is contagious!
- Attend a Go Local Taste & See Night: Taking these small steps on your own can be lonely and discouraging, but participating in a Go Local cohort provides encouragement and accountability! Come to one of these events to learn more, with no obligation.
- Host a Book Discussion: Invite a small group to read a missional living book with you, and to reflect on the life-style changes it encourages you to make. Suggestions: Surprise the World, Art of Neighboring, Sentness: Six postures of missional Christians, Six Word Lessons to Discover Missional Living, The Tangible Kingdom, Right Here Right Now, The 9 Arts of Spiritual Conversations
- Pray Daily: List 5 people who do not have a relationship with Jesus and pray daily for their spiritual growth. Download or request a prayer card to hand out to your congregation to join you in prayer.