Hey leader! I have a few questions for you…
What’s your vision? Mission statement? Core values? Aspirational values? Permission-to-play values? Five-year strategic plan? Newcomer assimilation strategy? Global missions plan?
If your blood pressure just increased by 10-15 points, you may be feeling the pressure of the highly strategic direction that ministry culture has taken in this day and age.
Now, don’t get me wrong—I thrive on this stuff. “Strategic” is my #1 attribute on the Strength Finders assessment, so I love thinking through the plan…like, all the time. I am certainly grateful for the direction the Church has taken to be intentional about vision, and taking practical steps to get there. And I can’t find a single thing in that list above that isn’t to some degree important to think through.
But let’s be real, we’re talking about God here. The Holy Spirit, who goes wherever He wants, whenever He wants, in whatever way He wants…and He doesn’t usually inform us of the next 32 steps He’s going to take to get there.
I think we see a small picture of this in Matthew 10, as Jesus sends out His disciples. This seems to be the first time they are going out without Him, and so He instructs them on where to go, how to find a person of peace, and what to do when they get there (bring the Kingdom).
Now if this were me, I’d probably end that section with something like, “And hey, make sure you have your mission statement handy! Gotta get that logo right, raise a TON of money, and you should probably throw in some connection cards and maybe a few free water bottles…What do you have there, a bag? Gosh, I think you’re going to need a trailer.”
Instead, he plops on them this little diddy:
“Don’t think you have to put on a fund-raising campaign before you start. You don’t need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment, and all you need to keep that going is three meals a day.
(Matthew 10:9-10, The Message)
Wow, that sure doesn’t sound like our hyper-strategic, gotta-have-something-ready-for-every-possible-situation kind of ministry culture today, does it? I know, I know, plans are great! Raising money is very helpful. Etcetera. But is it possible that we let all those things sometimes hold us back from actually embarking on the mission of God?
It is tempting to tell ourselves that we just aren’t ready yet. We don’t have enough donors, or haven’t whipped up the perfect newsletter, or don’t have 1,824 warm contacts in a community. How could we possibly start making disciples?
And yet Jesus says, “Go.”
We have somehow gotten our vision statement mixed up with our mission statement, and good grief, aren’t we supposed to have a slogan or something?
When we find ourselves getting worked up—or even worse, putting off the mission of God—just because the 5-year plan doesn’t seem quite right, let’s just remember Jesus’ words: You are the equipment. And if you are usable, He’s ready to use you.
So travel light.
After all, we’re following the Spirit.