I've heard it said many times that organizational culture always trumps organizational vision (culture > vision). Although vision is a picture of the preferred future, culture is the way you actually do things. It is the language, values, and behaviors of your church. You may have an incredible vision (and vision is important) but the culture of your church is the reality.
Although we have tried to mobilize our church to "go" from day 1, I quickly realized it's easier to develop a catchy mission statement and preach about "going" than it is to develop it as the culture of your church. Over the last 3-4 years I believe we've made some significant steps towards making it our culture, not just our vision.
5 WAYS WE DEVELOPED A "GO" CULTURE:
1. Everything we do is an opportunity to disciple someone.
- The small things matter. Even now we are preparing to send our youth to a 4-day retreat/conference this summer. We are currently working with DHS and the children's shelter in Tulsa county to take 5 teenagers in the foster care system with us. Why? Because this could be a life-changing experience for one of these teenagers in the foster care system and our own youth need the opportunity to invest and disciple someone else. Don't just create events/opportunities for your church but see everything as an opportunity to reach or disciple someone else.
2. Sunday is a time to be encouraged, equipped, and sent.
- Sundays are a time to worship, grow, connect, be encouraged, and ultimately be sent to live out the gospel and make disciples. Over 75% of our church serves in some capacity. We tell our people constantly "Sunday is not the time to sit back and observe but to help create an environment each week where those who are far from God can find Jesus." The result is a missional and serving culture where people understand, "It's not about me."
3. We constantly and continually celebrate the "go" and the "send."
- I've always heard it said, "Your people will value what you celebrate." If we were going to be a church living on mission we would need to constantly celebrate the "go." Now, we constantly share stories of people living out God's mission for their lives and how they are engaging the people around them. When someone discovers God's unique mission for their life and begins to live it out we REALLY celebrate - even if it means they leave our church to go and pursue that call. For us, the SEND is the biggest WIN.
4. We changed up our systems and structures to fit the missional culture we were trying to create.
- Until just recently we had Community Groups that were meeting all over the city to grow together and to participate in various outreaches together. There's nothing wrong with that system but it fell short of the missional living we wanted to create, so we changed it. Now we have CityGroups scattered throughout the city who gather together to grow, build community, disciple new believers, and live on mission together. Groups spends time each week talking, praying and asking the Holy Spirit where they are feeling called "to go and make disciples." Groups are now moving into specific communities, adopting areas of the city, partnering with various organizations, mentoring kids in local schools, etc. - all around the focus of going and making disciples of others.
5. We developed a training and equipping class for missional living.
- Each spring and fall we offer an 8-week missional training class called CityLife. We want each and every person in our church to go through this discovery process. It allows each person to look at their story, discover how God has wired them, develop a plan for growth, and begin moving towards God's unique mission for their life. It has become a leadership and development factory for us where we launch people into mission and ministry.
I'm not saying you need to do any or all of these things. They're just ideas that may be helpful. More than anything, I hope you move beyond just a vision for "mission" and "going" and make it the culture of your church. In all honesty, It isn't too difficult to come up with a compelling vision. I've learned, however, a missional culture takes a great deal of hard work, sacrifice, and commitment.