This post is from Rose Madrid-Swetman, a missional pastor at the Vineyard church in Shoreline, WA.
Scot: If you could begin all over again, what one thing would you have focused on more? Or, put differently, what wisdom would you give to a new pastor if you were asked this question: What should I focus on?
Rose: I am going to make a couple of assumptions. First, I have a core team that is organized around a common mission. Second, that we agree that our faith community is to be a sign, agent, and witness to the Kingdom of God.
With those two assumptions in my pocket, I would focus on ?growing a church big rather than growing a big church.? When I first began as a pastor, I was taught to focus on buildings, budgets, and butts in seats. Those three words were, and in many cases still are, the measure for success. Today we (I don?t lead in a vacuum) focus on the other words: conversations, connections, and collaborations.
Conversations imply cultivating an environment for people to belong before they believe. We view our neighborhoods, workplaces, and the community where our facility is located as our parish.
Because we believe that God is at work everywhere, we look for connections that are already established. We look for the signs of the Kingdom that are already happening and then we join God there. John Wimber (founder of the Vineyard Movement) used to say, ?see what the Father is doing and bless it.? We pray quite purposefully for God to guide us into the areas where he is already at work in our neighborhoods. When we moved into our leased facility four years ago, our prayer was to be a blessing to our city. As we prayed, we began to see the many needs around us. As an example, we responded to one of the local non-profit agencies who needed tutors for the after-school program they have in a low-income apartment community. Several of us began tutoring twice a month for two hours. There are over 150 children and youth in this one apartment community. Four years later, we have authentic friendships with the agency that runs several programs for folks who are under resourced in our city, as well as with the youth and families. Authentic relationships bring partners to work in God?s kingdom.
Collaborations are a must! We don?t want to reinvent the wheel. We collaborate with several sectors in our city, such as the school district, the City human services department, social services, churches, and many more.
The result of focusing on conversations, connections, and collaborations in four years has resulted in mission impact in our city that we could not have imagined.
When one moves down the alphabet from buildings, budgets, and butts to conversations, connections, and collaborations, one counts success differently. Here are a couple of examples: We count how many people we have served rather than how many people attend our Sunday morning gathering (yes, we have one). We count how many people we are developing, encouraging, and partnering with to be practitioners, who are leading personal, local, and global expressions of God?s goodness and justice.
Growing a church big is a great adventure.