April 23, 2003, 7:27 am
Filed under: uncategorized

A few more thoughts on the whole mission statement thing . . .

One of my struggles to this point in developing a concise statement of purpose/vision/mission is in developing what my understanding of success looks like. Is it more important that I be a part of developing a community characterized by deep relationships of impact or is it more important to scatter the seeds of the kingdom life as widely as possible (which looks a heckuva lot like pursuing a numbers oriented crowd)? Maybe it’s somewhere in between the two, and it’s not necessarily the case that the two are mutually exclusive.

If “deep relationships of impact” are the measure of success, I know that it will be deeply satisfying and stimulating to my own growth constantly. It will mean that I’m honest enough with myself and others to mean that no single person will be important than any other person in this effort – nobody will be put on a pedestal of superiority because of what they know or how dynamic their personality is or how powerful their spiritual gifts are. It will mean pleasuring myself completely in the fact that God has allowed me to help another brother or sister get a little bit closer to him, and it will mean that I’ll take as much pleasure in having felt the impact of others in my life in the same way. The down side to this mentality as a measure of success is that it’s maddeningly difficult to know if you’ve ever reached it. How deep is deep enough when it comes to relationships of impact? Seems like there’s always gonna be something missing . . . although that’s also part of the pleasure – the thing that continues to drive the bus.

If scattering the kingdom seeds as widely as possible is the measure of success, I know that it will be satisfying on a couple of fronts. First, it’ll be much easier for me to measure the effectiveness of the efforts of the community, because we’ll have access to the hard data that numbers provide. Second, it’ll help us to maintain the missional element of announcing the reality of God’s kingdom as a lifestyle. I find myself feeling immediately defensive after writing that stuff, though, so please indulge me enough to allow me to explain it a little. No part of me wants to plant a megachurch. When I say that effectiveness is measurable by the data of numbers, I don’t necessarily mean numbers of people in a weekly/bi-weekly/monthly worship experience, numbers of baptisms in a given period of time, numbers of dollars given, or any combination of the those. In Brian McLaren’s terms, it may be better to count conversations than conversions. How many people have I shared God’s love with, given a glimpse of the kingdom life to, invited to join me in following Jesus? And if the numbers of people in worship experiences, baptisms, dollars, or any combination of the three do end up growing beyond our wildest dreams (whatever those are), I’d rather send groups away to plant new churches than have a church that numbers in the thousands or even hundreds. The obvious downside of measuring success by the numbers is that numbers can verrrrrry easily become a false god. I don’t ever want to “sell out” in order to have a big crowd, and I don’t want to give people some false and shallow sense of connectedness simply because they show up for a worship experience once a week/month. There are other pitfalls in playing the numbers game, but I think the house/organic/simple church folks have done a much better job explaining them than I could here.

O.k., that was more than I intended to write this morning. I’ll stop now.

Not that it matters . . . but in the CD player right now: Golden State by Bush


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