Winter 2012

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Your Church's DNA

Tailoring a missions strategy / by Jon Wymer and Diane J. McDougalls

Back in 2006, Jon Hori and his leadership team pursued local missions, like any good church plant. "We had almost a shotgun [approach] in doing and trying different stuff," Jon admits. "Some of those things were good, but no long-term partnerships had formed and we were a little frustrated.

"When you get the mission bug," he adds, "the urgency is to go out and do anything you can, just to say, 'Hey, I'm doing it.' But part of assessing what the Holy Spirit is doing is being Spirit-led and intentional, which requires patience."

As part of his lesson in patience, Jon and his church—Lifesong Community Church (EFCA) in Chino, Calif.—decided to slow down and ask for some help. In 2008 they contacted EFCA CONNECT for assistance in tailoring a missions approach to their church's own specific DNA.

CONNECT staff member Craig McClun arrived in person and spent a few days asking lots of questions and helping Lifesong's leaders figure out where to start. And then he left. Lifesong continued asking questions, seeking answers. Jon readily admits that it was almost a full year later before the church was ready to develop a missions strategy.

Like Lifesong, most churches that reach out to CONNECT are already doing something with missions. They might be

One crucial question is, "What's unique about your church that should be part of your missions focus?"

pursuing various initiatives that don't tie into an overall vision. Or maybe they're wondering if their initiatives could be more effective.

Regardless of the size of the church, CONNECT facilitators can help a church board, pastoral leadership and missions team ask better questions and develop a more integrated strategy.

One crucial question is, "What's unique about your church that should be part of your missions focus?" After all, God has specifically gifted individuals through the Holy Spirit; as those individuals gather in church families, those churches display specific giftings as well.

That question rang true for Jon Hori and Lifesong. An aha moment came as they saw how passionate their people already were about involvement in Haiti and with post-Katrina community development. Why not walk through those doors, rather than perpetually trying to force open other doors?

From the beginning, God had also brought a lot of senior adults to Lifesong, which created a deeply multigenerational church and strong sense of family. "We sent mixed multigenerational teams to Haiti and New Orleans," Jon explains, "and it's amazing the inroads that were there because of their age and their humility."

Lifesong Community Church leaders are excited to keep asking questions and refining a mission strategy that uniquely suits the passions and skills—the people—God has already brought through their doors.

Jon Wymer is lead pastor of York EFC, a congregation of about 90 people, and he realized while writing this article that missions strategies are for churches of every size.

Explore resources on the web or learn about a personalized mission assessment for your church.

Your Church's DNA

BACK IN 2006, JON HORI AND HIS LEADERSHIP TEAM pursued local missions, like any good church plant. “We had almost a shotgun [approach] in doing and trying different stuff,” Jon admits. “Some of those things were good, but no long-term partnerships had formed and we were a little frustrated.

“When you get the mission bug,” he adds, “the urgency is to go out and do anything you can, just to say, ‘Hey, I’m doing it.’ But part of assessing what the Holy Spirit is doing is being Spirit-led and intentional, which requires patience.”

As part of his lesson in patience, Jon and his church—Lifesong Community Church (EFCA) in Chino, Calif.—decided to slow down and ask for some help. In 2008 they contacted EFCA CONNECT for assistance in tailoring a missions approach to their church’s own specific DNA.

CONNECT staff member Craig McClun arrived in person and spent a few days asking lots of questions and helping Lifesong’s leaders figure out where to start. And then he left. Lifesong continued asking questions, seeking answers. Jon readily admits that it was almost a full year later before the church was ready to develop a missions strategy.

Like Lifesong, most churches that reach out to CONNECT are already doing something with missions. They might be pursuing various initiatives that don’t tie into an overall vision. Or maybe they’re wondering if their initiatives could be more effective.

Regardless of the size of the church, CONNECT facilitators can help a church board, pastoral leadership and missions team ask better questions and develop a more integrated strategy.

One crucial question is, “What’s unique about your church that should be part of your missions focus?” After all, God has specifically gifted individuals through the Holy Spirit; as those individuals gather in church families, those churches display specific giftings as well.

That question rang true for Jon Hori and Lifesong. An aha moment came as they saw how passionate their people already were about involvement in Haiti and with post-Katrina community development. Why not walk through those doors, rather than perpetually trying to force open other doors?

From the beginning, God had also brought a lot of senior adults to Lifesong, which created a deeply multigenerational church and strong sense of family. “We sent mixed multigenerational teams to Haiti and New Orleans,” Jon explains, “and it’s amazing the inroads that were there because of their age and their humility.”

Lifesong Community Church leaders are excited to keep asking questions and refining a mission strategy that uniquely suits the passions and skills—the people—God has already brought through their doors.

Jon Wymer is lead pastor of York EFC, a congregation of about 90 people, and he realized while writing this article that missions strategies are for churches of every size.