Maintenance or Mission?

I do not remember where I got this article. It is not original with me, but I have adapted it for my use. I think it makes some powerful points. While we cannot ignore maintenance, if churches are to grow their focus must be missional. Perhaps you have some to add to this list.

1.  In measuring effectiveness, the maintenance congregation asks, “How many pastoral visits are being made? The mission congregation asks, “How many disciples are being made?”

2. When contemplating some form of change, the maintenance congregation says, “If this proves upsetting to any of our members, we won’t do it.” The mission congregation says, “If this will help us reach someone on the outside, we will take the risk and do it.”

3. When thinking about change, the majority of members in a maintenance congregation ask, “How will this affect me?” The majority of members in the mission congregation ask, “Will this increase our ability to reach those outside?”

4. When thinking of its vision for ministry, the maintenance congregation says, “We have to be faithful to our past.” The mission congregation says, “We have to be faithful to our future.”

5. The shepherds in the maintenance congregation say to the newcomer, “I’d like to introduce you to some of our members.” In the mission congregation the members say, “We’d like to introduce you to our shepherds.”

6. When confronted with a legitimate ministry concern, the minister in the maintenance congregation asks, “How can I meet this need?” The minister in the mission congregation asks, “How can this need be met?”

7. The maintenance congregation seeks to avoid conflict at any cost (but rarely succeeds). The mission congregation understands that conflict is the price of progress, and is willing to pay the price. It understands that it cannot take everyone with it. This causes some grief, but it does not keep it from doing what needs to be done.

8. The leadership style in the maintenance congregation is primarily managerial, where leaders try to keep everything in order and running smoothly. The leadership style in a mission congregation is primarily transformational, casting a vision of what can be, and marching off the map in order to bring the vision into reality.

9. The maintenance congregation is concerned with their congregation, its organizations and structure, its constitutions and committees. The mission congregation is concerned with the culture, with understanding how secular people think and what makes them tick. It tries to determine their needs and their points of accessibility to the Gospel.

10. When thinking about growth, the maintenance congregations asks, “How many church members live within a twenty-minute drive of this church?” The mission congregation asks, “How many unchurched people live within a twenty-minute drive of this church?”

11. The maintenance congregation looks at the community and asks, “How can we get these people to support our congregation?” The mission congregation asks, “How can the church support these people?”

12. The maintenance congregation thinks about how to save their congregation. The mission congregation thinks about how to reach the world. 


13 Responses to Maintenance or Mission?

  1. Steve Lavin says:

    Danny, I do not believe this should be an EITHER OR SITUATION. I believe it is important to both maintain AND to be on mission.

    Have we typically leaned toward maintenance over mission? I would have to say ‘absolutely!’ Are there just as many problems associated with leaning too far toward mission? Again, I would have to say, ‘absolutely!’

    One danger of a management mentality is that we can’t move forward for fear of offending. But the extreme of this is that we are willing to offend anyone, and everyone, who stands in the way of our mission. The problem is that, over time, a church can develop a callous attitude toward the feelings (and fears) of the other members. Not handled correctly, this eventually leads to an atmosphere where people feel empowered to run over their brothers and sister ‘in the name of mission.’ I see little difference in this attitude and the one of ‘feeling empowered to run over brothers and sisters in the name of maintenance.’

    I believe God would have us to be faithful to the flock He has already given us AS WELL AS the flock HE would have us to reach. Instead of Maintenance or Mission, I prefer an emphasis on LOVE! I think that should cover everyone.

  2. dannydodd says:

    Excellent comments Steve. So much is about proper balance and you are right- in that any imbalance either way is dangerous.

  3. preacherman says:

    Wonderful list.
    It is my prayer that we will be missional in all we do.

  4. Brad Adcock says:

    I realize that evangelism is a part of our mission as Christians – but too often too many forget that it is just that: a part of the whole. But, hey, why not keep hemmoraging members out the back door as soon as we bring some new ones in the front door to “dunk?”

    I would love to know who said each body of believers had to be bursting at the seams with members. The church I see every day continues to drift farther and farther from the NT version I read about. We have become nothing more than another business or social club when the only purpose we see for ourselves is continued numerical growth. A church that grows in numbers is the weakest member of the body without continued spiritual growth.

  5. Adam G. says:

    Please don’t misunderstand “missional” to make it “evangelism” or worse “soul-winning.” A missional church WILL take care of its members…the biblical way.

    It is maintenance vs. missional for me, and I am struggling to embrace the latter and scrape the former off my skin.

    The first time I saw this break down of the distinctions, and were you may have obtained it, was on Blind Beggar’s blog:

    He introduced me to missional, and it was a big help to my journey back to faith.

  6. dannydodd says:

    Brad- I think all of us preacher-types can relate to what your wrote.

    Adam- good reminder that missional churches will take care of members. And thanks for the link, but this blog was new to me- so it is not my source for this post.

    I just wish I could remember where I clipped this from! lol

  7. bikegirl says:

    I liked #6. It reminds me that just because I see a need or a need is presented to me that I am the one that has to meet that need. Maybe I am the bridge for connecting the need to the fulfillment of the need or maybe I am just supposed to see that need get filled and be amazed by God’s ability. Sometimes I am the man on the cot, sometimes the friend that lowered him to Jesus, and sometimes I am part of the crowd witnessing the awesomeness of God.

  8. dannydodd says:

    Amen to your comment bikegirl.

    This is the spirit I wish we all possessed.

  9. Trey Morgan says:

    Excellent list. Just before dying out, the seven last words of the church were, “But we haven’t ever done it that way.”

  10. dannydodd says:

    Yep Trey, those are the words spoken as the last person leaves and turns off the lights- wondering what went wrong.

  11. J D says:

    I think this would make an excellent Bible class discussion … and it may just find it’s way into that setting!

  12. Steve Lavin says:

    JD, What a great idea!

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