The familiar saying declares, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” That’s especially true when making a missional move. A key component of a mission-focused transition is seeing a picture of what’s possible when the right investments become part of a congregation’s story.
Congregations desiring a change in their mission trajectory are well served by identifying a mission-focused congregation of similar size, congregational life-cycle, people, resources, and community location (i.e. urban, suburban, rural). Identifying a similar but deeply missional congregation helps paint a picture of what could be and identifies essential investments necessary to move from “here” to “there.”
Here are steps towards connecting with a missional partner…
BEGIN A SEARCH
Commission a team to search for a missional partner that has the “feel” of your congregation but is a step or more ahead in fulfilling Christ’s missional mandate. The church should be making a missional impact in their community, attracting young families, baptizing new converts and training next generational leaders. The missional partner does not have to be in your neighborhood (although proximity has advantages) or from your theological persuasion.
MAKE A CONNECTION
Once identified a connection should be made with the leadership (especially senior pastor) of the mission-focused congregation asking if they would be willing to serve in a mentoring capacity as your congregation moves towards a God-preferred future.
ESTABLISH DIALOGUE AND VARIOUS LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS
Create a plan to ensure mentoring takes place. Regular gatherings between leadership are essential. Shared retreats with staff also promotes learning. Encourage members to visit the mentoring congregation and attend various ministries. Find multiple ways to do life together.
NAME DISCOVERIES AND CREATE A PLAN
Everyone interfacing with the mentoring congregation should keep observational notes. Those discoveries should be gathered, typically in a retreat setting, and key learnings named. Those discoveries, in turn, will give rise to the development of a plan for implementation. Remember, of course, that another church’s “is” does not mandate your “ought” since every congregation has their own culture and calling. Still, these missional pictures have the power to ignite imagination and propel change in ways few other processes can accomplish.