Written by Blake Hatton, 4th year
A little philosophy on mission
This is my fifth* Moore College Mission and each year, the most valuable and memorable time is when the Senior Minister sits us down and tries to tell us what he thinks he is doing. You might say he is giving us his ministry philosophy.
At college we get bucket loads of teaching on the bible and this, rightfully, is college’s express intent. We aren’t at “Moore Skillz College”, it is Moore Theological College. You can get skills elsewhere, college is for deep grounding in proper biblical theology. For this reason, sitting with a guy who is in charge of a church and hearing how he thinks ‘on the ground’ ministry works is really, really valuable.
This morning (Monday morning!) it was no disappointment when Mat Yeo, the Senior Minister of Hurstville Grove, sat us down to tell us what he thinks he is doing. I am going to summarise it here and give one or two reflections along the way. I’ll be referring to the diagram pictured below.
Ministry philosophies and the sovereignty of God
The diagram has three bubbles: Reach, Connect, Grow. Mat was helpful to point out that these sit in a mileu of prayer (so we didn’t need to stress that prayer was not on the diagram). Broadly speaking, this is the structure of the church in organisational terms. And already, here is an important point to take note of: this guy understands that he needs to make something happen, and that doing it well requires thoughtful leadership and a clear structure. This seems to come from a conviction that God really does work through his people and that God gifts them to work hard and faithfully to bring about the growth in his church. Mat has thought hard about what he wants to lead them in and structured the ministry to reflect that.
What is it that we are doing together?
There are three bubbles on the picture.
Reach: The church is meant to bring people to Christ.
Connect: Those people must be welcomed into the church and find a home in the body.
Grow: The Christian life is one of growing more and more into the image of Jesus.
There are three components but interestingly, Mat reckons it actually comes down to two. That is, you could really collapse the middle one (Connect) into a part of the first (Reach). I guess if the person hadn’t really connected to the church then the job of ‘reaching’ wasn’t actually finished. Strictly speaking you’d want to be careful of reading this back as a theology of conversion but on the ground it makes a lot of sense to bundle them together. That is, the church aims to reach and grow; connecting serves these ends.
Mat grounds these two main aims (reaching and growing) in Jesus’ Great Commission. It is interesting to ponder what you might add if you were leading a similar program. What is our job together but to reach and grow? There is lots of detail to fill in about what they will look like but they seem to be a pretty good starting point.
How will we do it together?
The next step for Mat is to add in five means of growth. What are the things that people need to be doing in order to mature in Christ? At Hurstville Grove they’ve put their money on these five:
- Personal devotional life
- Serving in a ministry
- Small group activity
- Corporate worship
The assumption here is that growth doesn’t just happen but God uses certain means to bring it about. These are areas of focus for the staff team not just because they dig small group attendance or want big ministry teams, but because this is how they will help each person to know Jesus better and share him with others.
What do you think of this list? Are there things that are important to Christian growth that aren’t mentioned?
I really respect this kind of thinking. There is a seriousness and intentionality here that befits the task of church leadership.
The difference between Reaching and Witnessing
Mat says they’ve thought less about the ‘reach’ side of the diagram and that this is one of the broad goals for 2015. It is interesting that both reach and witnessing are on the diagram. Is this redundancy? No, it’s a helpful distinction. Reach is one of the goals of the church, it is one of the things they’re trying to do together. Witnessing is an individual activity that leads to growth. Now, I imagine the same moment might account for both of these things. For example, imagine the church runs ‘Introducing God’ because one of their goals is to reach. As part of this, a church member gives a testimony. It helps to set the reach moments and the witness moments as separate because one is focussing on the activity of the church, while the other is the activity of a member that is related to their growth. This distinction is slight, but helpful for thinking carefully and intentionally.
What do you think you are doing?
So what do you think you are doing, or at least what do you think you will be doing? I’m not trying to say that Hurstville Grove has the formulation exactly right. However, they have convictions about what they are doing and therefore systems and structures to match. Their actual content seems pretty good but my guess is you could find other accurate ways to express the job of a church. The real take away point is that their self organisation springs out of their convictions.
*I did 1st year half time so got two missions there
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