Yesterday, during the Sunday School hour at Richmond’s First Baptist Church, we unveiled our new “Missional” church structure. I made some opening remarks and then members of the staff shared their vision for the various ministry areas. In closing we showed the “Missionswoosh” animation, which sums up this new approach as effectively as anything I’ve seen.
Printed below is the (draft) text of my opening remarks, which should give you an overview of the presentation.
These are exciting days at First Baptist Church. I was touched when Dr. Jim Flamming, my predecessor, stopped by my office after the presentation to give me two thumbs up. “That was wonderful!” he said. “Well, you started it,” I replied. It may have been more accurate to say that God started it, Jim Flamming moved it in the right direction, and now we’re trying to keep it moving.
With God’s help, we will.
Unveiling the Missional Church Structure
Sunday, May 3, 2009
Let me see if I can sum up our Wednesday night session on being a Missional church in 25 words or less: “Being Missional means understanding that God has work for us to do, that instead of getting saved and sitting on a pew until Jesus comes back, we have been called to work with Jesus until God’s Kingdom comes and God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven.” Well, OK. That’s 50 words, but still not bad for a Baptist preacher.
If that’s true, that God has work for us to do, then the question becomes how will we do it, how will we help Jesus bring heaven to earth? I think Jesus has already given us that answer. He told his disciples that the most important thing in the world was to love God with everything in them and love their neighbors as themselves. He told them to love one another as he had loved them. And finally he told them to go and make disciples by baptizing and teaching.
Believe it or not these things are part of our existing mission statement, right there on your bulletin. We talk about “joyful worship” which is another way of talking about loving God with everything in us. We talk about “caring fellowship,” which is another way of saying we intend to love one another. We talk about “spiritual nurture,” which could be interpreted as learning to obey everything Jesus commanded. We talk about “faithful service,” which might be understood as a way of loving our neighbors as we love ourselves. We talk about “compassionate outreach,” which refers to that Great Commission mandate to make disciples of every nation.
We’ve known for years that we were supposed to do these things but we have never organized ourselves around those things. We have tended to organize ourselves more around people groups than purpose. While there is nothing inherently wrong with that it does give us an inward, rather than an outward, focus. I’d like to think that we could be a little more purpose-driven as a church, and that we would structure our staff in a way that would help us bring heaven to earth. So, here’s what I have in mind:
I’m planning to keep my job as senior pastor (I hope that’s OK with you), but I’m asking Lynn Turner to serve as my senior associate. I want her to take on the Ministry of Christian Community, which is all about loving one another as Christ has loved us. I can’t think of anyone better equipped to do that job.
Next in line are the ministries that will help us embrace the Great Commandment and fulfill the Great Commission. I call these the ministries of Christian Invitation, Formation, Worship, and Compassion. I want Ralph Starling to head up the invitation team, Steve Booth to lead the formation team (which will include young adult, youth, and children’s ministries), Phil Mitchell to head up the worship team, and Steve Blanchard to lead the compassion team.
Last, but certainly not least, are the ministries of support and communication, teams headed up by Billy Burford and David Powers, respectively. These are among the largest of our teams, because they include things like custodial services, security, food service, maintenance, accounting, our television ministry, our website, and all of our publications.
Let me emphasize that this new structure is experimental. We’re going to try it and see if it works. It’s a little bit like driving the church bus to the mission site, looking at the work that needs to be done and saying, “OK, Lynn you take this group with you, Steve you take this group over there, Ralph see what you can get done with this bunch, et cetera.” If we need to make some adjustments in the middle of the day we will, but for now two things are clear: God has work for us to do and we’ve got the best staff in the world to help us do it.
I’m going to let them come, one at a time, and tell you about their ministry areas. My hope is that you will be taking good notes and thinking about where you would like to pitch in as we help Jesus bring heaven to earth.