We have a great idea, but …

Help sign“We have a great mission idea (and someone else should pay for it…)”

After a month on the job as the PressGo Catalyst, I am beginning to reflect on what separates successful mission initiatives from mere wishful thinking.

There are a great many projects around the church, many of which are centred on buildings – rebuilds, redevelopment and revamps. The desire to improve building functionality is paramount. Better gathering areas (foyers and meeting rooms) are sought after as are better kitchens. All these things are good in terms of serving the existing congregation; but what makes a building project a “mission initiative”? I think it is those where the building changes are part of a larger mission plan. An outward-looking plan that sees the building as only one tool in mission. This is why the “build it and they will come” model of attractional church is very limited and unlikely to attract PressGo assistance. In these case the reasoning goes “if we have a nice facility, which those who attend enjoy, then more people will come along to use our buildings.” Sadly a mission strategy based purely on offering a venue for rent falls short of being in mission with our community. It is important to dream the big dreams at an early stage. A useful phrase to keep in mind is “if money wasn’t a problem, what would we really do …”

I’ve come up with a list of 10 things that I think are hallmarks of a successful mission initiative:

1. The project shows imagination
2. It is soaked in prayer
3. Comes from a sense of vision that is bigger than the congregation – a sense of how things could be different
4. Considers the wider picture and context – why here and why now?
5. Develops greater focus over time
6. Mission is the driver, not pragmatic building considerations
7. Owned by the majority of the congregation – this is “our” project
8. Generously supported – with significant gifts of time, talents and money coming first from the congregation before anyone else is asked
9. Uses best practice in professional services – building, fundraising, administration etc
10. Provides focus, energy, passion to the life and mission of the congregation

I’d be interested in feedback or perhaps you can think of other things that are equally important. If you would like to discuss a potential initiative and the ways PressGo might assist please call me on 027 4455 723 or email lisaw@presbyterian.org.nz.


3 thoughts on “We have a great idea, but …

    1. Hi Neville, they are a summary of what I am seeing in my job so I guess the expansion would be the examples of each that I am seeing in parishes. I put the list together as a talking point for Presbyteries as they go about their planning so they can be aware of this. I haven’t really had much feedback to date. If you would like to email me lisaw@presbyterien.org.nz I can recommend some further reading or other assistance if you like. shalom, Lisa


      1. Hi Lisa,

        Thanks for your reply. Our Pastor Nick Mclennan has mentioned you a few times with a view to having you advise our building team.When I saw your section in Bush Telegraph I thought I would make contact.

        I have attended a PressGo conference in Wellington so I understand a little of the idea behind the name.I have seen your profile on LinkedIn so I understand a wee bit about your background.

        Our Church is about to purchase a block of land in Warkworth (1.5M). Settlement is in August.

        My personal concerns are:
        1. We are acquiring a property with the intent to build a new church for the benefit of our community (and PCANZ). What support can we expect from PCANZ (+ Pressgo) as strong demonstrations of support from the “Parent Body” are usually critical in securing funding from other sources.

        2. Your 10 point document is a little disturbing because some of the content is quite subjective. Who, for example decides whether a project is “imaginative”? What does “Comes from a sense of vision that is bigger than the congregation” mean? Is that numerically or in some other way?

        What opportunity might we have to speak with you in person?

        Warm regards

        Neville Johnson


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