We need to be honest about the sources of initiative and the responsibility for initiative. The originating source of new missions initiatives, under the Lordship of the Holy Spirit, are most often missionaries or mission agency leadership who devote priority time and resources to thinking about and exploring strategic needs in the world. They generally have much more time and resources to devote to such prayerful strategizing than church leadership; in fact they have an organizational conflict of interest pushing their visionary aspirations because they want their organization to recruit personnel, prayer, and pesos from your congregation; they need to think big, edgy, audacious goals that keep it all coming into their orbit. Your church mission candidate wanna-be-s gets excited about a presentation on their campus or at your church missions conference or some recruitment event or experience sponsored by a mission agency. The candidate or the agency lobbies for or promotes the new visionary initiative fully expecting your church to fall in line with support. If you are part of a denomination or strong fellowship of churches with a common missions agency serving it, that mission will leverage their influence to get all member churches to commit to the new initiatives streaming from their offices.
A passionate missionary candidate can make passionate case for your church going along with “their” vision initiative. “This will change the world. This is better than, more strategic than, more guaranteed-results-than anything ever!” Of course, they probably have no basis in discernment or experience to evaluate strategies or projected results; but they’re excited about the possibilities.
Don’t discount or disregard the initiative of a prospective missionary candidate’s vision or the vision appeal of a solid mission agency. It’s very possible that God is using this external source to stimulate you and your church leadership to consider it. Still, it doesn’t mean that you don’t apply the critical thinking and decision-making skills needed for any significant commitment in the life of the church. Go back and read through the process of selecting a strategic missions focus and apply those same principles here. Ask the questions: Is this fitting for our church?, Is it in line with our church’s goals and vision?, Do we have the connectedness or network or partnerships to enable this vision? etc.
If your church is proactive in praying, researching, and thinking through issues of forward-reaching vision, then by all means move forward with the initiative — at least in the concept. You’ll need to take responsibility to find those partners, networks, or relationships to enable the vision. If the initiative comes from an agency or outside-influence, take the time to proceed deliberately and with good counsel. Call Propempo and ask for consultation! Ask other local churches about their experience doing similar things with the same initiators.
In the end, it doesn’t matter so much who started the idea. What matters is the confident assurance and solidarity of your church leadership that this initiative is one to which God is leading you to commit. Take your time; ask the right questions; get everyone on board. Don’t let someone highjack the process to end at a different destination than one to which you all previously agreed to pursue. Someone may be on the superhighway of adrenaline charged excitement; help that one see that he/she needs to wait for the other leaders, and maybe the whole church, to get down the on-ramp and catch up to highway speed to merge with the flow of God’s Spirit taking you to that wonderful future vision focus.
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