They don’t sell missional at Wal-Mart

The other day I did something dangerous. I started a project in our bedroom closet.  In an effort to become more organized my wife Sandy and I thought it would be good to combine all our shoes onto one shoe rack.  So I went searching for a shelf. I looked everywhere but couldn’t find one. All the pre-made shelf kits were either too large or didn’t have enough shelves.  They simply didn’t sell anything that would work for my context.

I think missional ministry is very similar. The context that each of us find ourselves in is unique. There is no missional kit for sale at Wal-Mart that we can purchase, follow some simple instructions (printed in five different languages) and then viol’a, missional ministry is fully constructed.

So after my fruitless shopping trip I decided to build it myself. The trouble is I’m not much of a handy-man.  Still, I didn’t have too many other choices, and it’s not like I don’t have a few tools in my belt. I do own a saw and so I thought I could do it.  After three days, five splinters and one argument with my wife, the shelf is now finished. Oh, and did I mention that I made a bunch of mistakes? I bought the wrong sized wood, I cut the new wood to the wrong length, I put a big hole in our dry wall which now must be patched, I got paint on the carpet, and then when I thought I was almost done I realized that the shelves were too close together and the shoes could not fit on them. To fix that last mistake took me four hours.

In the end though two things happened. First, the shelf is in my closet holding shoes and more importantly I learned a ton and became a better builder, not from my success but from my mistakes.  Inventor Roger Von Oech says there are benefits from failure: first, if you do fail, you learn what doesn’t work; and second, the failure gives you the opportunity to try a new approach.

Missional ministry is hard, they don’t sell a kit, each context is different and ultimately you will have to build it yourself. Along the way you will make bunches of mistakes. Mistakes are inevitable, so instead of fearing them, embrace them, learn from them, and allow the Holy Spirit to teach you and guide you through the process.  Do not allow fear of failure to prevent you from following the dream Jesus has put in your heart.

Michael Hyatt posted this on his blog: “While there are many things that can contribute to success, there is one thing that is sure to prevent it every single time. What is it? The absence of trying.”  In order for us to build missional minded student ministries, we must be willing to try and be willing to fail and then be willing to try again.  Every failure is an opportunity to  discover more about ourselves, gain a greater dependence on the Holy Spirit and learn a better way to build missional ministries. So celebrate your failures and view them as stepping stones to where Jesus is leading you.

I would love to hear of your missional failures. We can always learn from each others mistakes. I welcome you to share both funny and painful ones. Leave a comment below.


7 thoughts on “They don’t sell missional at Wal-Mart

  1. Pingback: Whoops…Try Again | Your Life Is Your Mission

  2. I won’t be able to thank you fully for the articles on your web-site. I know you’d put a lot of time and energy into all of them and hope you know how much I appreciate it. I hope I could do the same for someone else sometime.

  3. Thanks for sharing these thoughts. It’s important for me to be reminded that mistakes are there to learn and grow from not something to conceal or be embarrassed about. Really appreciate you guys.

    • Thanks Mike. I agree that we should not be embarrassed by our failures, they are the best way to learn and be lead by Jesus. Instead we should share them more. I don’t know about you, but I always seem to get more out of a sermon when the speaker shares his/her mistakes.

  4. This may or may not relate, but here’s a dooser of a mistake…..don’t put young people into leadership positions just because they agree with your mission statement, and you have no one else to help you. This can be very costly as we found out when our “youth workers” talked the talk but fell badly in their walk. Asking them to step down from ministry created far more issues than not having had the initial extra hands and feet to start the ministry. We are now going it alone until God shows us who we can ask for help, and until then trust that He will give us the energy, creativity, and perseverance to run the race.

    • That’s very interesting. The first thing I thought of when reading your response was to not let that incident discourage you from using young people as leaders in the future!

      One piece of philosophy that we incorporate with our leaders is that they only have to be one step ahead of those they are leading. We’re not expecting our leaders to be N.T. Wright with their faith and beliefs. But we do assess whether or not they are moving forward in their journey with Christ. And in their journey with Christ we provide support and accountability in this area through Huddles and intentional conversations. We try to be in their lives as much as possible and treat our leadership team as an extended family.

      Once you get to know that specific leader a little more you will be able to gauge their areas of strengths and weaknesses. As a result of that, you are able to put them in roles or positions where they can have success and thrive within the ministry.

      Hope this reply was helpful!

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