Is your mission missing something?

Is your mission missing something?

I work with the Presbyterian Church (USA) both as a regional leader and on their national board. I think a lot about the church's job to be done. Another way to think about your mission is to ask, What does your community hire your church to do? Or consider, what could families in your community hire  your church to do for them? To answer this question, you need to be in an authentic relationship with your community.

In this conversation, I use the word "church" generically to refer to an organized faith community; an inclusive term referring to individuals who gather as a volunteer association to practice their faith. I resonate with how our Moderator, the Rev. Dr. Neal Presa (@nealpresa), has described worshipping and witnessing communities to capture both the gathering and sending components of mission.

In my experience, faith communities have been utilizing the same framework for their work for more than 100 years. Like other volunteer groups that value incumbency more than innovation, fewer and fewer people continue to try their best but only manage to offer less and less. This model does not produce energy and it leaves practitioners unsatisfied in their experience. Is it any wonder that more than 1,700 pastors leave the ministry every month (referenced by

We keep delivering our ministry as we always have out of habit or convenience, expecting people to line up at the door, but for what? And why?

I have resonated with the development and practice of the Job-To-Be-Done (JTBD) framework. Clay Christiansen's insightful work, and the excellent Re-Wired Group podcast and website with Bob Moesta have profoundly helped deepen my understanding of the nature of the church's job to be done, i.e., the mission of those called and sent as followers of Jesus. 

I wonder what might be missing in your mission? Who is missing in your mission?

what would happen if we looked at the church from the perspective of our neighbors, those "outside the church," flipping the focus from church to the community. This shift is revolutionary because it realigns the resources, processes, and priorities to achieve the mission instead of preserving the illusion of the mission. 

Increasingly, I have been asking pastoral leaders to explore:
What is the use-case for your church? (Think deeply about your assumptions, not only assumptions about the community at large, but also the assumptions held by the community of faith, as well.) 
Are you committed to grow and change, adapt and learn, by discovering what the community is actually looking to "use" your ministry for?
What are your neighbors looking for that's currently and urgently missing from their lives? 
What are the forces at play when a person chooses to visit any church? 
What are the forces at play when a person chooses "your" church? 
What spiritual needs do they express? How are they getting these needs met? 
What schedules, budgets, priorities, etc. do your neighbors manage that your ministry could address? 

Exploring responses to these and similar questions within an adapted JTBD framework has provoked many leaders to think more critically of the self-preserving, incumbent, ministry models. When a worshipping and witnessing community stops focusing on themselves and instead, considers their neighbor's jobs-to-be-done, innovation can fuel new ministry.

What is the Church's Job To Be Done? Be honest. When you gather, I'm pretty sure you talk about Jesus. But in what ways do you walk about Jesus in the community?

Is something missing in your mission? 

Thank you for sharing your responses.