Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Becoming Missional: Build Trust

A friend who raises funds for a theological institution has repeatedly pointed out to me the importance of relationships—whether you are dealing with individuals or foundations. “The best way to get funding from a foundation,” he says, “is to know someone on the inside.”

The same is true if you want to move a church toward being missional. You must build relationships and develop trust within the congregation, even if you are already on the inside. This can happen in several ways:

A priority is to find a champion. If you are the pastor or a staff member, the champion may be you. If you are not, seek to share the vision with the pastor or another ministerial staff member. This person will be part of staff discussions and will also be aware of the resources in the congregation—people, finances, facilities, equipment—that can be assets in the missional journey.

Second, you should not only make this a matter of prayer but seek opportunities to ask others in the church to pray for openness, opportunity, and receptivity to a missional mindset. This may be in Sunday school classes, committee meetings, or prayer services. This not only adds a spiritual dimension as you and others seek God’s leadership, but it also makes others aware of the possibilities.

Third, practice transparency and flexibility in this effort. Even if you have a vision of what your church might become, you must be candid and admit that you are not sure exactly how this may play out. The Spirit of God often surprises us (consider Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch) and pulls us in unexpected directions. Even the most committed leader does not have the full picture and needs to be open to new possibilities. People will trust you more if you exhibit openness to new ideas and approaches.

Fourth, find opportunities to give the vision away. The vision of becoming a missional church is not something to be hoarded but a treasure to be shared. As you do so, you not only bless others but the vision takes on new strength and vitality as others embrace it.

This may take time but don’t be concerned about a timetable. Transitions like this take place only when the people are ready to perceive God’s mission.

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