Mission: Part 1

I have really wanted to blog our experience of re-engineering but have found the process of putting something down in writing really hard because there is so much going on and so many loose ends at this point of time.  So it is important to read this as my personal reflections rather than the community’s experience.</p

Over the last couple of weeks we have tried to sharpen our mission focus.  We started by asking the theological question, “does the church have a mission?”.  The answer is yes, but the issue that I don’t think we have resolved is how much is church for the edification saints and how much is for mission.  For the me the answer is ‘yes’.  The gospel changes everything and so as part of the edification of the saints it changes the way we see the world and the way we see people who don’t follow Jesus, and the culture around us that doesn’t follow Jesus.  Mature disciples are fruitful in maturity and obedience, but also in multiplication.

I think there is a practical reality of having a mission focus to bring community together around that focus and that is something we have not had in the past.  The reason for that is that we have left the evangelistic initiatives in the Gospel Communities.  This changes a lot of things.

The main question we have been looking at is whether we should move location to Parramatta or stay in the Macquarie area.  This raised some good and big issues for us, but to cut a long story short we decided that we were not healthy enough as a church to make the big risk change to move to Parramatta.  Parramatta would have been a great mission field for us if we had the resources, and may well be again in the future.
We have decided not to move to Parramatta but remain in the Macquarie area

Staying in Macquarie will mean some changes, but we need to work out what they are soon.  It is one thing to have an area to work in, but this is such a diverse area that we need to focus even more sharply here.  Again this is a discussion that is not yet finished.

This has also left us with the big question of how do we define a healthy church?  When will we be strong enough to make big, risky changes like that?  And that’s what we need to discuss next week…

Values

One of the first things we did was work out some values.  This is what what we are doing, it is how will we do what we are doing.
I think this was an important step to take early on.  We needed to define what was important before we decided what was important.  So here are our values at the moment – as we work through the re-engineering process, there may be more that are added.
  • Everything we do needs to be Gospel centred. 
  • Therefore we need to know WHY we are doing what we are doing.  It’s not enough to think X is a good thing to do, we need to be able to answer why is it a good thing to do
  • What we can do we will do well, what we can’t do we won’t try and do those we can’t.  The point here is that we don’t want to end up feeling guilty about trying to do everything.  We can do some things really well and rather than getting distracted by trying to do every thing, we are going to aim to do those things well.
  • Under promise, over deliver.  This is a value we want to hold as a community and as individuals.  Simply, its about being faithful to what we do.  We want to be able to say “I will do this” and mean it as a minimum.  Where we aren’t able to do fulfil what we have promised we need to own it and say sorry.
  • Every member ministry.  We are aiming for every member of the body to be able to do minister.
  • We aren’t afraid of failure.  Failing in church is not the same as failing in salvation.  We will try some thing and fail at it rather than not try something at all.
  • In terms of leadership will be clear about who makes the decisions.  This means applying the S formula of making decisions.  S1 – I will make the decision without input.  S2 – I will make the decision with input from key stakeholders.  S3 – A delegate will make the decision with input from key stake holders.  S4 – A delegate will make the decision without input.
  • The aim is not to compete with other ministries but to find other problems and solve them.
As we work through the re-eneginnering process we may need to come back and revisit the values from time to time, adding new ones or rephrasing these ones.

Why Re-Engineering

Over the next several months, Soma is planning to Re-engineer.  It will be a hard but important process and to help Soma people keep up with what we are doing and for people who may be interested, I will be blogging about it as we go so you can see the process.

Why are we re-engineering?  Over the last couple of years we have lost our way a bit.  As a church we have been through some pretty rough times.  Some people have left because it has been too hard.  To be honest there are times I have wanted to follow them!  But Sydney is a big city and it needs different churches to reach different people.  Some of those people are going to walk into a church building and ask who Jesus is.  Most won’t.  As a church we want to reach those who won’t walk into a building and this means doing church differently.  But we have lost our way a little in seeking to do that.
This is not to say there are some things we are doing well.  We are.  But the point is that there are some core things we have lost the idea of WHY are we doing this as opposed to that.
Re-engineering involves stopping what we are doing and asking some fundamental questions about our DNA as an organisation.  It’s basically a stop and re-plant.
Here are some symptoms:
  • We have lost who we are trying to reach.
  • We have lost our sense of “every member ministry”.
  • We are looking a lot like other churches, (so why not pack up and leave it to them?).
So the plan is to look at
  1. Church Structure – what are we doing
  2. Church Culture – who are we when we are doing it?
  3. Church Marks – what is church?
But in the reverse order.  Most people think of church in the order I have listed.  But the priority of the New Testament seems to be the other way around.  We are obsessed with how the church should run and yet if you look at the book of Ephesians for example, the priority there is the culture of the church.
Why Church “marks” rather than defining a church?  Firstly, defining a church is actually harder than it looks.  There is always an exception somewhere.  So it is, in my opinion, easier to look for some key marks of the church. Secondly, I think this works better for what we want to do.  What is the not negotiables for what we shouldn’t change when it comes to church.  It is after God’s church, not ours.  More on this to come…