Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Strategic Missional Principles: Non-programmatic

As a Missional strategist, or a church movement facilitator, or whatever you want to call someone tasked with seeing churches spring up in a given region, you often have to ask yourself: “What are we doing that is working?” or “What are we doing that is not helping at all?” Basically, the same questions anyone in a strategic role asks themselves to evaluate the plans and activities they are coordinating. However, one thing quickly becomes apparent in the unique realm of Missional strategy.

It is not about programs.

Church planters (and churches for that matter) have been falling into this trap for a few generations now. Somewhere along the way, church ceased to be about people and became all about programs. The relationships that the church is built upon were taken for granted, and leadership became totally consumed with the programs supposedly designed to facilitate those relationships.

When someone enters an area where churches need to be planted and raised, they usually begin with a list of ideas and programs that have succeeded elsewhere. The thought is, at least in the American pragmatic way of thinking, that the activity itself created the success. If we simply duplicate what THEY did and work hard at it, it will of course work here.

The problem is that we have become methods focused and not means focused. Jesus set up the advancement of God’s Kingdom as simply God’s message advancing through people by the power of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps we ought to shift our focus away from programs and into qualities.

So, the first quality of Missional strategy is that it should be non-programmatic. Programs by design are Attractional, which is the exact opposite of Missional—qualitatively speaking. Do not build your strategy around activities or events, programs or high concept events. Focus completely on the people, the relationships and networks connecting the people all around you.

And that leads us to the second Missional quality…


  1. Hi Jason,
    I was intrigued by your comment about Christian leaders focussing more on programs than people. Two Aussie blokes, Tony Payne and Col Marshall have written a book called, "The Trellis and the Vine: The ministry mindshift that changes everything". It is a brilliant book that helps pastors avoid this pit fall. I commend it to you. Ben Pfahlert

  2. Thanks, Ben. I'll have to check it out.


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