Saturday, June 19, 2010

Becoming Missional: Build on Your Strengths

For years we have talked about the uniqueness of every individual and the fact that “God has wired us up” in a certain way. As a result, we have made efforts in the church to help individual believers discover their gifts, passions, and personality types in order to serve more effectively. Is this true for the church as well?

Several years ago I heard Marcus Buckingham speak at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit. Buckingham is the author of several ground-breaking books including First, Break All the Rules and Now Discover Your Strengths. While he was with the Gallup Organization, he helped develop the
Strengths-Based approach to management. The basic idea is that we should spend more time using the abilities we already have than trying to improve upon our deficits or weaknesses.

Out that conference came the idea that this may be the best approach for churches to pursue as well. Contrary to the Natural Church Development approach of discovering where your church falls short (“where it leaks” in NCD terminology), a church would be better off to accentuate its unique strengths.

How does this apply to the missional church? Each church is uniquely gifted to do something in its setting than no other church can do or, at least, do as well. Due to your location, facility resources, the gifts of your membership, and the abilities of your leadership, you can address a community need or develop a ministry for which your church is uniquely gifted.

How do you do this? Two things are essential. First, pray to find and be open to the leading of God’s spirit. This must be open-hearted, not holds-barred praying. Second, engage in purposeful conversation among church members. This involves ongoing, face-to-face dialogue among everyone in the church. Of course, both of these activities take time, but it would be time well invested if the church can come to appreciate its strengths and discern how to use them effectively.

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