10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1: Launch! Without a successful launch the rest of the mission is irrelevant. But there is more to a successful mission than just the launch. In Countdown, David Francis and Rick Howerton present 10 mission critical decisions that every groups must address. In the next several blogs, the writers will be highlighting seven key elements that were first discovered in Lifeway’s research and published in the book Transformational Church. These seven elements [Missionary Mentality, Relational Intentionality, Vibrant Leadership, Prayerful Dependence, Worship, Community, and Mission] were found in every church that had both a successful launch and a successful mission of impacting their community.
“Missionary Mentality was and is the key distinction of a Transformation Church,” wrote David Francis. Don’t confuse having a “Missionary Mentality” with the element identified as “Mission”. The mission often explodes and becomes ineffective because we failed to think like a missionary before, during, and after a successful launch.
Getting a group or class to think like a missionary can be difficult. Mainly because of how leaders and teachers and members see their Sunday School Class. Most just see their Sunday School class as a place to teach the Bible and they see the members of their class as students. A teacher doesn’t need a Missionary Mentality to teach the Bible to those who show up. Let me remind you that Sunday School was never intended to be a ministry to those who showed up.
We live on mission field today and we need group leaders and Sunday School teachers to once again see the members of their groups as missionaries not just students. My favorite definition of a Sunday School class, is that a Sunday School class is a team of people on mission for God. With a Missionary Mentality, you will lead your class to be on mission to a world that is lost and to equip your members to serve in this mission field.
One of the first things missionaries do when they get to a new field of ministry is spend time learning the culture and the people. If we are going to reach people through Sunday School classes and groups, we must start by learning about the people who live in our communities. Sadly, our culture is now filled with secular adults who know very little about Christ and His church.
In the fourth chapter of Mark, Jesus tells the parable of the sower or soils. A missionary recognizes the types of soil in his field of ministry and develops a game plan to begin to see fruit in his labor. The work is not easy, but what good would it do for the missionary to just sow seed without preparing the soil? When a teacher begin to think like a missionary, the class will begin to identify and discover the people who live in their community. The group members will begin to understand what type of soils they are plowing and sowing. When classes and groups have a missionary mentality, prospects are discovered, needs are identified, and a vision is birthed. And they may even begin to use nametags.
Missionaries recognize that they live on a mission field, do you?
Mark Miller is the Sunday School Specialist and Harvest Field Team Leader for the Tennessee Baptist Convention