The Both/And Church: Defining Who You Are
What kind of church do you serve?
A few years ago, the church I served as an elder was in the middle of a lead pastor transition. Rather than speed directly to the pastor search, we decided that this was a great opportunity to explore who we were as a church and where we wanted to go during the next chapter of ministry.
As we sat around the table, we shared our dreams for the future; our disappointments from the past; and the reality of the present. We decided that we would put on paper our ministry direction and philosophy of ministry, thinking that it would be helpful to us as leaders, but also insightful for the next lead pastor we hadn't yet met.
Today, I thought I'd share what we came up with. We grabbed bits and pieces from other churches here and there, but mostly, we were able to put down in writing the DNA of our unique local church:
New Hope Community Church is a diverse community of people, all of which are on a spiritual journey. While some have known Jesus for decades, still others are now investigating the claims of Christ for the very first time.
While we normally don’t care for buzzwords or stereotypes, we find it important from an organizational standpoint to present a clear vision of the style of ministry and type of church New Hope will strive to be. While this ministry perspective is somewhat wide in scope, it provides a framework and some tangible direction to the church we are and the church we want to become in the future.
We like to put it this way: New Hope is not an ‘either/or’ church. Rather, we are a ‘both/and’ church.
- We consider ourselves “attractional” AND “missional”
- We think that the church should be for believers AND unbelievers.
- We believe we should be about evangelization AND discipleship.
- We think worship should be celebratory AND reflective.
- We believe messages should be Biblical AND relevant.
- We affirm that we should be a “come and see” AND a “go and be” church.
- We fully commit to being the Church inside AND outside of the church walls.
- We feel it’s our responsibility to mobilize our people for service in the church AND in the community.
Our weekend services are “attractional”. We want the people in our community to ‘come and see’ what Jesus is up to. We desire our church family to invest in their friends and invite them to our weekend gathering as part of the spiritual search. In doing so, we promise to present Jesus and the Gospel in a way we think will resonate with them. Our music style is something they will enjoy; and our worship will be compelling and inviting to the non-believer. Our messages will be relevant to both mature believers and those just starting their spiritual journey. Each weekend, we’ll inspire and motivate people to take their next step, whatever that looks like for them, in order to become a more mature follower of Jesus.
At the same time, we consider our church to be ‘missional’. We want our church to not just ‘come and see’ but also ‘go and be’. This means that we put a high value on disciple-making and mentoring at every level of ministry. Our end goal is to develop true Christian leaders in our home, church, and community, and to make increasingly mature followers of Jesus. We think small groups and missional groups play a crucial role in this development. We want to raise up an army of people who are able to serve Jesus both inside and outside the church walls.
We think the church in Acts 2 was both attractional AND missional. New Hope will strive to keep a balance of both, knowing that without the ‘missional’ aspects of our ministry, we would have the tendency to become a weekend ‘show’ without substance; and without the ‘attractional’ aspects of ministry, we would miss out on an important opportunity and mandate we have as a church to share the message of Jesus with our community however possible.
To maintain this balance, we work as a team. The Lead Pastor, Executive Pastor and Elder Board are constantly evaluating ministry programs and outreach so we stay ‘on mission’. We also seek to regularly communicate with our staff, lay leadership, and attenders the value of our “both/and” strategy.
We realize that there is constant pull and tension in being the kind of ‘BOTH/AND’ church that this document describes. This ministry and philosophy statement comes out of our steadfast commitment to obey and apply God’s Word for His glory. We realize that this is a ‘living document’ that will need to be consistently evaluated and tweaked to insure this main goal is kept in balance and focus.
Little did we know that this simple Philosophy of Ministry statement would actually be the thing that attracted our next Lead Pastor. After we hired him, we asked what made him know that this was the right move for him and his family. His answer was that he 'knew' this is where God was calling him when he read the Philosophy of Ministry statement that we had prepared because it resonated with his own passions and call to ministry.
The result? Three years in, the fit between the Lead Pastor and the church is amazing. The church is healthy, growing, and thriving. The Philosophy of Ministry is being lived out in ways we never thought imaginable three years ago.
Does your church have a document like this? Something on paper that keeps your church on the rails during good and bad times? That states what is important and attempts to measure it? That declares the distinctives of your church and why you exist?
We find that many churches (most in fact), don't.
A written Philosophy of Ministry statement can be a great help to your current and future leadership. In fact, when we work with churches that are searching for new staff, we always do what we call a "Church and Candidate Profile" before we start the actual search process. This allows the church to do much of what we did three years ago: dissect the past, assess the present, and dream for the future. We feel that it is the absolute first step in helping a church determine the type of person that will be a healthy, long-term fit for their unique local church.
At Chemistry, we can help you through this process. If you find yourself in the position we did a few years back, getting this information on paper was a HUGE step in finding our next leader. But even if your church isn't looking to hire new staff in the next 12 months, a Philosophy of Ministry/Church Profile statement could help unite your team and get your church united around common goals for the new year. (For example, our Philosophy of Worship statement became a four-week sermon series that communicated exactly who we are as a church).
Would you like some help with this process? We've helped many churches come up with their profile. It can be done in conjunction with (or totally outside) of a staff search. We'll help you ask the right questions and get the right answers down on paper so that you can communicate with clarity with your staff, volunteers, and church-at-large.