I was still working on the question of how we measure success and it occurred to me that institutional success might look different than missional success. In other words, you could have a church full of people and offering plates full of money without ever doing the things Jesus told you to do. The institution would be successful, but the mission would not.
On the other hand, you could have a church so radically committed to the mission that its members never came to church or put their money in the plates. They would all be out there on the mission field, bringing heaven to earth. The mission would be successful but the institution would not.
Ideally, there would be a balance between institutional and missional success: the church would be full of people who came gladly, gave generously, and then went out onto the mission field to do what Jesus told them to do.
So I said to the staff, “See if you can fill in the blanks: ‘Mission is to institution as _____________ is to _____________.’” And then I let them think about it. Let me ask you to think about it for a minute before reading any further. What is the proper relationship between the mission and the institution?
(sound of ticking clock)
Got it? OK. Please post your answer below by clicking on the word “comments.” And then consider some of these responses:
“Mission is to institution as education is to school.”
“Mission is to institution as transportation is to car.”
“Mission is to institution as baking is to oven.”
“Mission is to institution as fun is to games.”
So, can you imagine a big, beautiful school where nobody ever learned anything? Or a shiny new car that simply sat in the garage? Or a $10,000 oven that never baked a cake? Or a game that felt like more work than fun?
Ideally, there would be a perfectly balanced relationship between the mission and the institution. So you would have a big, beautiful school where lots of learning went on. A shiny new car that would get you where you were going. A $10,000 oven that baked the best cakes in town. A game that left you panting and sweating and laughing out loud.
And, ideally, a church full of happy, healthy people, who came together to worship, love, and learn, and then went out to turn the world upside down.