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How’s the mission going? Where’s the mission going?

by on April 29, 2013

Missing The Target

Archbishop Peter Jensen led the diocese into 10 years of mission. Those years are up now, but the Archbish used his last presidential address to clarify that they were just a beginning, not an end. The mission must go on.

However, 10 years gives us time to try things, and then a built-in time for reflection and adjustment. In the Archbish’s view, that time is now. He said,

If you accept my challenge to continue with the priority on preaching the gospel into the long term, there will be an absolute need for clarity and hard headed planning. It is time for the Mission to be dismantled, examined, adjusted, reformed, improved and embraced.

So the question is, where is this happening? Where is the forum where the mission is being reassessed, debate, critiqued, where changes are being proposed?

In particular, where is it being acknowledged, ‘we aimed for 10%, we ended up with no change.’

I would contend that a goal is only worthwhile and valuable if there is a willingness to say whether it was reached or not, whether the mission effort was overall a success or a failure. If you’re not up for that frank discussion at the end, then don’t set goals.

Maybe there’s somewhere that this discussion is going on. I’d like to know – where? Maybe I missed it? Maybe some high-level leaders are facing these things behind closed doors. Too high level for me to hear about it.

But it seems to me the place this discussion needs to go on is among the missioners – i.e. in our churches among the ordinary people who are being called on to engage in the mission. Shouldn’t you and I be involved in this assessment? Shouldn’t leaders be talking to their people about this?

Here’s a big picture fact to get chewing on:

The goal of the mission was growth relative to population. There was no growth.

We aimed for 10% of the population, i.e. for massive growth, maybe 250% over ten years.

We achieved somewhere between -1% and +1% growth relative to the population. I.e. negligible.

Overall, the mission was not successful.

Sorry to bring this up, but that’s the thing about goals, they’re supposed to force you to confront the reality of success or failure. To quote the Archbish again,

I am glad to report also that a number other groups and plants have closed. It would be monumentally foolish to persevere with something which does not work.

There’s a real danger that we will fail to face this, fail to do the hard looking in the mirror which is now needed if we are to do better in the next 10 years. We are addicted to putting positive spin on everything, trying to keep up morale. Our pragmatic temptation is to just say, let’s just get on with it. There’s so much to be done.

We can’t afford another ten years of no growth. There’s only so long our people will go on giving themselves to mission, without seeing success. Positive spin cannot sustain morale forever. Sooner or later, disillusionment will set in…

So what are we going to do differently in the next ten years to reach our city for Jesus? What are the obstacles? What are the opportunities we haven’t taken up yet? What’s the direction from here on?

Let’s have some hard-headed, honest, open, public discussion.

To quote the Archbish once again,

It is time.

From → General

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