Staying Missionally Engaged

A couple of years ago I was on a call with a church-planting coach. We were approaching our One Year Anniversary and my coach had a few insights into what year two may look like. As always with any coach, there’s a good amount of encouragement and then a warning or a “Hey, you should probably be prepared for (fill in the blank).” I should know to expect it by now, but it always throws me a little off.

Those who have gone before us know a bit more about the process, the trends and what to expect than we do.

He said, “At the beginning of year two (and every subsequent year), you’re probably going to experience some people getting off the bus and some people moving seats. Don’t be alarmed, it just happens.” Well, when you’ve started a church with close friends… that’s alarming! He asked me a few questions that really messed with my head. He asked:

  • Who is on the bus that needs to move seats?
  • Who needsto get off the bus?
  • If you hadto remove one person from the team, who would it be?

Talk about questions you don’t want to answer! Geez!

Our One Year Anniversary was on October 4, 2015 and since then we’ve had a lot of movement on our volunteer staff team and in our church in general.

All of this has forced me not to just accept that this sort of thing happens, but also to explore the why behind it. So, I have a working-theory.  I call it: The 3 Keys to Staying Missionally Engaged. I’ve had many opportunities to bounce these keys off of other church planters who are farther down the road than we are and their experiences have been very similar.

While there are tons of different reasons people need to take time off or take a step back from volunteerism and leadership, I’d like to offer three things that I believe every staff person or volunteer needs to stay missionally engaged in their local church.

I believe people need to be experiencing at least 2 out of 3 of the following in order to stay missionally engaged:

  • Experiencing Personal Wins:
    Inviting and seeing people come and get involved; Being in a small group and watching other people grow; Being personally connected to someone who is getting baptized or recently gave their life to Christ; Serving on or Leading a team that is winning; etc.
  • Experiencing Personal Growth:
    Growing in your own personal relationship with Jesus; Developing healthy habits; Surrendering previously un-surrendered areas of your life; Becoming more Self-Aware; Working through hurts, habits and hang-ups; etc.
  • Experiencing Extraordinary Care or Community:
    Involved in a community group (small group) or strategic service team that loves each other; Feeling cared for or caring for someone when life hits the fan; Gaining support from people in times of high stress or personal tragedy; etc.

I know there are other factors at play, external factors like having a baby, changing jobs or job loss, stress at home, health issues and more. But these principles, when applied over our lives, will help you see where people are at and how engaged they are. It might even help you understand your own situation.

When you feel distance coming between you and the mission, ask yourself if you’re experiencing these 3 things. If not, purpose them before you come to a point of crisis.

If you’re looking for ways to keep yourself from burn-out, check this blog post and podcast from Carey Nieuwhof’s interview with Craig Groeschel.