The triple spiral labyrinth is exactly the right image to symbolize what happens when a congregation tunes in to their community through an intentional process. The experience of listening to God in scripture, in the congregation and in the community, is a way God calls a congregation into a meaningful relationship with people in the neighborhood, or in the world.
Every congregation is unique. The history of a congregation, the congregation’s culture, and the congregation’s leadership can work both for and against their capacity to make changes to move their ministry beyond only the needs of members. When a congregation is new, these three types of listening are a way of life. But, as a congregation grows and the needs of the members themselves become more real and it is easy for leaders to focus on the people that gather each week, potentially losing sight of a balanced purpose.
Growing congregations have intentionally found ways to focus more on listening to God and the neighborhood, while keeping the needs of the members in perspective.
If caring for members is our only vision for mission, we are thinking too small. In addition, if listening is focused on those who have left the congregation, we are looking to the past rather than the future. While those who have left are always welcome to return, we cannot let nostalgia get in the way of hearing where God is calling us now.
This discernment process is a perfect way for a congregation to clarify their purpose. A congregation should have an answer to the question “If we disappeared tomorrow, what would the neighborhood miss?” Following Jesus is always an outward movement. For more information on how to tune in to where God is leading your congregation, click here to use our free, step by step guide book and sign up by clicking on the 10-Minute Tool Box to gain access to the free webinar on this process. LEAD is available to coach your congregation on this intentional prayer walk, wherever you are located.