This blog entry is by guest blogger Steve Ogne, church planter coach and consultant with CRM. Steve and I worked together for a decade and collaborated on several projects together, including The Church Planter’s Toolkit. Steve’s most recent publication is TransforMissional Coaching: Empowering Leaders in a Changing Ministry World.
You can mobilize mission by mobilizing leaders individually, through small groups, and through large group activity.
Large group activities are often an easy way to introduce people to mission. Fifty or more people gathering together to feed the homeless or clean up a neighborhood can be a great motivator for mission outside the church. Often large group activities are a good place to start, but it’s possible for them to become a feel-good activity for the believer with no impact for the lost. In that sense, it provides inoculation against mission– just enough of the disease to make sure you don’t catch it. Believers can feel off the hook, like they’ve done their part and now don’t have to live missionally in real life.
The small group is an underused group for mission that has the potential for being extremely effective. Many churches are reposturing their groups to be mission teams. The great challenge, of course, is to get the traditionally inward-focused groups to become outward-focused. The benefit, on the other hand, is that mission brings new life to the group. I remember a several year old small group that was challenged to engage in a missional activity that took them to a local shelter for homeless women and children. They were reluctant and fearful the first time they went, but when I came back a few months later to check on them, as I approached the door, I saw homeless children running to one of the men in the group, “Grandpa Dave! You’re coming again!” The difference they were making was clear and the group itself got new life by doing more than just caring for one another.
Individual, or two-by-two, ministries are best suited to certain needs. That is usually the case when a person identifies someone in need who is in their circle of relationship. They might prepare a meal or visit at a hospital. Needs like that are met much more effectively by one or two people than they would be by a larger group.
Many churches don’t think through the implication of size to match the mission assignment. Sometimes we leave it to a small group to galvanize a communitywide service day, but they can’t make a dent in the project. Or we have a whole group of people focusing on too small a project. Consider the three ways to mobilize for mission and choose to the appropriate size for the job at hand.