Wednesday, April 23, 2003

A few more thoughts on the whole mission statement thing . . .

One of my struggles to this point in developing a concise statement of purpose/vision/mission is in developing what my understanding of success looks like. Is it more important that I be a part of developing a community characterized by deep relationships of impact or is it more important to scatter the seeds of the kingdom life as widely as possible (which looks a heckuva lot like pursuing a numbers oriented crowd)? Maybe it's somewhere in between the two, and it's not necessarily the case that the two are mutually exclusive.

If "deep relationships of impact" are the measure of success, I know that it will be deeply satisfying and stimulating to my own growth constantly. It will mean that I'm honest enough with myself and others to mean that no single person will be important than any other person in this effort - nobody will be put on a pedestal of superiority because of what they know or how dynamic their personality is or how powerful their spiritual gifts are. It will mean pleasuring myself completely in the fact that God has allowed me to help another brother or sister get a little bit closer to him, and it will mean that I'll take as much pleasure in having felt the impact of others in my life in the same way. The down side to this mentality as a measure of success is that it's maddeningly difficult to know if you've ever reached it. How deep is deep enough when it comes to relationships of impact? Seems like there's always gonna be something missing . . . although that's also part of the pleasure - the thing that continues to drive the bus.

If scattering the kingdom seeds as widely as possible is the measure of success, I know that it will be satisfying on a couple of fronts. First, it'll be much easier for me to measure the effectiveness of the efforts of the community, because we'll have access to the hard data that numbers provide. Second, it'll help us to maintain the missional element of announcing the reality of God's kingdom as a lifestyle. I find myself feeling immediately defensive after writing that stuff, though, so please indulge me enough to allow me to explain it a little. No part of me wants to plant a megachurch. When I say that effectiveness is measurable by the data of numbers, I don't necessarily mean numbers of people in a weekly/bi-weekly/monthly worship experience, numbers of baptisms in a given period of time, numbers of dollars given, or any combination of the those. In Brian McLaren's terms, it may be better to count conversations than conversions. How many people have I shared God's love with, given a glimpse of the kingdom life to, invited to join me in following Jesus? And if the numbers of people in worship experiences, baptisms, dollars, or any combination of the three do end up growing beyond our wildest dreams (whatever those are), I'd rather send groups away to plant new churches than have a church that numbers in the thousands or even hundreds. The obvious downside of measuring success by the numbers is that numbers can verrrrrry easily become a false god. I don't ever want to "sell out" in order to have a big crowd, and I don't want to give people some false and shallow sense of connectedness simply because they show up for a worship experience once a week/month. There are other pitfalls in playing the numbers game, but I think the house/organic/simple church folks have done a much better job explaining them than I could here.

O.k., that was more than I intended to write this morning. I'll stop now.

Not that it matters . . . but in the CD player right now: Golden State by Bush

posted by Steve at 7:27 AM
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I'm Steve Lewis. This used to be my blogging home. My online home is now at When this blog was my active online home, I lived in Seattle. Now I live in London, UK. I follow Jesus (poorly most of the time), worship simply, read a lot, watch culture, go to school, listen to music, write, enjoy art, and drink a lot of coffee.
e-mail me:

seattle spots

victrola coffee
zoka coffee
university of washington
church of the apostles
quest church
sanctuary church
shoreline vineyard

sites i visit

off the map
nt wright

a few of the blogs in the feedreader

jason evans
joe boyd
kevin rains
alan creech
chris marshall
bill bean
eugene cho
jordon cooper
dwight friesen
john chandler
amy palmer
ryan bolger
rudy carrasco
ryan sharp
sings in the sunshine
rick bennett
scot mcknight
karen ward
alan hirsch
dan kimball
petey crowder

i'm reading it

colossians remixed
africa unchained

i finished reading it - 2007

generation me
jesus and the restoration of israel
god's continent
globalizing theology
gustavo gutierrez: essential writings
jesus and the eyewitnesses
garlands of grace
twenty poems to nourish your soul
the black swan
dancing in the streets
made to stick
signs in contemporary culture
hit the bullseye
the politics of jesus
readings in christian ethics
toward old testament ethics
the kite runner
principles of conduct
velvet elvis
the irresistable revolution
they like jesus, but not the church
the great omission
charisma: the gift of grace, and how it has been taken from us
the starfish and the spider
a perfect mess
the world cafe
the new faces of christianity
leaving church
journeying in faith
the creed
transforming mission
metaphors we live by
foolishness to the greeks
personal knowledge

states i've spent time: 2007

british columbia
oh yeah, denmark, too

i wrote it

managing conflict in the 'new world'
music review: over the rhine
film review: bonhoeffer
music review: fighting jacks
film review: the passion of the christ
how reality tv changes lives
the best tv article you've ever read
corks & caps: a wine lover's story of change
america's idols
random, disorganized thoughts about life after the katrina disaster
missional . . . plain and simple
on becoming post-gnostic

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