Home > Uncategorized > Zen and the Art of Church Maintenance

Zen and the Art of Church Maintenance

One of the strategic goals for the conference in which I serve is to “move from maintenance to mission”. What this means is that they want churches to stop maintaining the status quo of making sure everything stays exactly the same with no growth for the kingdom and no prospects. They want pastors to stop leading in that way and start lighting a fire of mission to the world.

I happen to think it is a great goal for the conference. I’ve seen changes take place over the last few years, mostly under the leadership of our current bishop, that excite me. I’ve heard people complain that he is “old school” – I don’t know if that’s true but if it is it’s exactly the type of leadership we’ve needed. The changes I see are ones that I believe have been designed to move us from maintenance to mission.

But why do we still see a small number of churches actually doing that?

I’ll qualify my question by saying that I’m not in the conference leadership so my observation might be total ignorance. My gut says that there are some churches striving to be missional but there are far more who want to maintain. Thus my question: Why?

My intuition and experience tell me it’s because moving and changing and convincing people to sacrifice on behalf of a larger goal is hard work. That’s not to say that our pastors are generally lazy, although some are, but it might be that some of us don’t have the guts to lead in a way that leads to the kingdom of God coming to bear in the life of a church.

I’m not being judgmental. Quite the opposite: I’m empathetic. Leading to mission means things are going to change in the lives of people. This is difficult and emotional. At some point in our ministries we are going to have to determine whether we’ve got the guts to do it and I think this is why we have so many churches committed to maintenance. Some of us are so concerned with job security and ladder climbing that we’ve lost the courage to lead which in turn leads to maintenance instead of a passionate and Spirit-filled mission.

Are you maintaining in your church? Do you fear what it might mean to move into mission?

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  1. Rachel Radford
    September 3, 2008 at 6:39 am

    Hey Prophet Matt(!)
    I apologise for not having been here before. I was thinking about your post and agree that sacrifice is really hard work and changing stuff is massive if things have been about maintenance for so long. It reminded me too that following God’s mission means following a Jesus who is moving somewhere which can get messy and can mean an increased reliance on God and where his Spirit is prompting you to go, who you are meant to serve. If the Celts named the Spirit a “Wild Goose” then a wild goose chase sounds risky – it could go anywhere! But sounds like fun…

    PS. If you get requests asking you to speak at conferences to exercise your prophetic gift as a result of being called Prophet Matt on public web space, put them in touch with me and I’ll explain – or just go for it!

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