METHOD AND MISSION
The Apostle Paul wrote, “To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law, so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law, so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some” (from 1 Corinthians 9 NIV).
The apostle explains both his mission and his method. His mission is to win people and to save souls. His particular method is to try to meet each one where he or she is at.
Method and mission are not the same thing, yet they are meant to be effectively related to one another. The method is meant to serve the mission. And if a method does not accomplish the mission, the method ought to be changed.
In recent months, our church’s leadership has been reevaluating both our mission and our method. Here is a quick overview of both.
We believe that this church – that any church – is Christ’s church. Accordingly, the church’s mission begins with Him. At the end of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus gave His disciples an instruction that is widely known as The Great Commission:
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19-20 NASB)
Based on Jesus’ instruction to His first followers, we believe that the church’s primary work is to make disciples. That’s not our only work, of course. But it is our primary work in the sense that it naturally comes first. All the other things that a church ought to accomplish are a byproduct of discipleship. If we make disciples, then disciples will do all that disciples do.
Making disciples has a lot of parts. Making disciples in children’s ministry, for example, is different from making disciples by reaching out to the unchurched, which is different from making disciples among youth, which is different from making disciples of their parents, and so forth. Each one of has its methods.
As a whole church, however, one of the methods for accomplishing our mission is our organizational structure. Over the past year, we have been evaluating that structure. And we have recently made a change in that structure in order to enable us to more effectively accomplish our mission.
For many years in the United Methodist Church, the prevailing organizational structure featured four standing committees (Finance, Staff-Parish Relations, Trustees, and Nominations), which functioned under the auspices of a larger, fifth committee (the Church Council). Each of the four sub-groups had its area of expertise, while ultimate authority resided with the Council.
On paper, the system looked good. In practice, however, it was often cumbersome, inefficient, and ineffective. Each sub-group was hampered in talking about any issue that happened to overlap with some other sub-group. And the Council, meanwhile, tended to become reactive rather than proactive as the informed conversations were happening within the sub-groups.
We have moved, therefore, to a structure known as the Accountable Leadership model. In this system, the various areas of responsibility and expertise are merged into a single group, which has the authority previously vested in the Council. This single group, the Leadership Board, oversees the entire work of the church.
That new structure is obviously more efficient. But what makes the new structure more effective? The “accountable” element is the key.
The Leadership Board is charged with identifying the mission of the church and then guaranteeing that everything we do is in alignment with that mission. The Board charges the pastor with leading the congregation to accomplish the mission. And the Board annually evaluates itself and the pastor in terms of the stated mission of the church.
The column on the right lists the members of the Leadership Board for 2017, as well as each individual’s designated area of specific responsibility. That is our structure, our method. Our mission is to make disciples of Jesus.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”