Program Driven or Missional Driven?

In a recent conference, Reggie McNeal described three shifts needed for churches to move from program-driven to missional-driven. These are very insightful for all church leaders and for a strategy of disciple making.

1. Changing from internal ministry to an external focus:

This isn’t an “either-or” situation, but a movement toward involvement outside the building. In the past, church-centric world, the assumption was excellent worship services and great preaching were the keys to drawing people to faith in Christ.

Today, it’s much different. In the missional world, it’s not about “doing” church but “being” the church. Instead of an evangelism strategy, why don’t we have a blessing strategy?” he asked. “It’s biblical. God wants to impart a blessing to the world. I tell people, ‘Let’s go out this week and practice being the people of God.’”

2. Asking, “Are our people better off because of what we’ve done?”

The heart of this question aims at creating a people-development culture in which improving lives is more important than running them through a program.

“Are the programs helping, or are people just a resource to get our programs done?” McNeal said. “Wouldn’t a fair scorecard be, ‘How many better marriages do we have in the church this year than last?’ (or) ‘How many have figured out a way to love their neighbor instead of how many showed up and supported our stuff?'”

Another question we should be asking is, “How many people have we disciple?” I realize that discipleship is a process but churches should evaluate how many folks are being discipled.

3. Moving from church-based leadership to apostolic leadership:

McNeal said his emphasis is on pastors moving away from acting as institutional managers toward leading a movement. In this model, instead of a minister saying, “I’m pastor of First Baptist,” he or she would proclaim, “I’m pastor of the community and my support team is First Baptist,” McNeal explained.

“In a people-development culture your time is going to be spent differently than in a program culture,” he commented. “You’re going to be engaged with people far more conversationally, and you’re going to have to figure out how to disciple people.”

“Any leadership is not positional, it’s personal,” McNeal said. “People want to know: Do you live this stuff, and are you willing to be accountable?”

How are these three principles (shifts) impacting your church?

What do you need to do to lead your church to be more Great Commission focused?

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