21 September 2021
Maintenance and Mission
Dear People of St Johns and St Philips
As we move into looking at our mission task intentionally and we notice the challenges it makes to our habits and assumptions, the following list on maintenance and mission from Brian P Stoffregen of Crossmarks may be helpful.. Note that this is a contrast, not a judgement, on the things which we do as part of the ongoing life of the church. "Maintenance" is important but this emphasises the different outlook of a church in mission mode. We maintain our cars in order that we can drive them round. If we spent all our time on maintenance, the car would not be used for its reason for being. It would sit in the garage, polished and shining and occasionally have the engine started, but basically deteriorating as it was not used. Yes, there is a risk of it being totally destroyed when it gets out on the road but that is what it is made for - to be out on the road [unless we have a cross country model] to transport people from place to place, it is not an end in itself. Without maintenance it will also soon wear out. Both are important, but the church [not just our parish] in recent years has tended to place a huge importance on maintenance mode "keeping it good" and we must ask "For what?" .
It is always tempting to stay the same and keep things as they are but the church is not a building, stuck in a snapshot of one time and place. It is a dynamic group of incredibly diverse people called in Christ to worship and to be a sign of God?s life in their own time and place and to have a significant impact on the people around them. We are asked to drive out of the garage and get the car dirty, and trade it in if its falling to bits, so we can travel where we need to go.
This article emphasises the thinking of a church in mission however I am not sure that the "effectiveness " [ in the number one clause] can ever be measured by us. - We simply often do not know which seeds we plant will grow and sometimes we do not even know when we are planting. However this list highlights the difference between an outward looking congregation actively seeking to make disciples and one which inwardly sits and basically looks after its own affairs
"adapted from Herold Percy, "Good News People," which makes a contrast between "maintenance" and "mission".
MAINTENANCE OR MISSION?
1. In measuring the 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 minister in the maintenance congregation says 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 minister."
6. When confronted with a legitimate pastoral 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 organisations 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 Presbyterians 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.
I know that whenever such a "paradigm shift" (changing "the correct way of viewing the world") is introduced in a church, most of the people just don't get it -- like the disciples in the gospel of Mark where they are consistently found perplexed at Jesus? showing that the "last will be first and the one would be first must be the servant of all".
People of St Johns and St Philips parish, may our ideas have no limits and be bold, [but not stupid] as we seek to find the way God is calling us to follow Jesus. We have the gifts among us to share the faith that is within us, and we are not asked to do anything which we cannot manage.
The second Letter to Timothy reminds Timothy of his forebears through whom his faith has been nurtured, just as this parish can look back on almost 150 years of Christian teaching and living in Papatoetoe. We can listen to the advice to this early missionary and find it still holds for us and our task as people called to this parish..
"For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands: for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self control. Do not be ashamed, then, of the testimony about our Lord. or of me his prisoner but join with me in suffering for the gospel, relying on the power of God, who saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works but according to his own purpose and grace?. revealed through ?.Jesus Christ" 2 Timothy 1:5 - 10
Enjoy the travelling
yours within the love of Christ
Rev. Margaret Anne Low
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