5 Shifts for Missional Impact 

I recently watched a video in which professional golfer, Rory McIlroy, observed recreational golfers and offered them small shifts to increase the impact of their swings. The results were dramatic, and each golfer was thrilled with the improvements. As pastors and church leaders, we aspire to increase the impact of our ministries. Here are 5 shifts designed to elevate missional impact:

  1. Envision the “Discipleship Pathway” of your church. In our calling to make disciples, we are charged with discovering the cultural context of our community and determining the best path. According to John Davidson, “A discipleship pathway is simply your process for making disciples. It’s your GPS that shows directions for how to help individuals get from here (wherever they are now) to there (a closer relationship with Jesus).” For generations, Sunday school was the core strategy in the discipleship pathway, but with societal shifts, diverse populations, and decreased Sunday morning attendance, churches are now faced with the challenge of designing creative new paths for disciple making. Have you created a strategic, comprehensive, and clear discipleship pathway for your church?
  2. Empower “Apostolic Initiators.” I coined this term to identify individuals in the local church who possess the spiritual gift of apostleship. These individuals “initiate new works in order to bring people to Jesus” and they leave new churches in their wake (Skye Jethani). The emerging post-Christendom environment in North America is creating the need for new initiatives to bring people to Christ. As pastors, we are called to identify and empower those with the gift of apostleship, so they can lead the way and innovate new outreach modalities. In what specific ways can you identify and empower the apostolic initiators of your church? 
  3. Experiment with innovative multiplication models. The emergence of micro-churches has made it possible for every church to participate in church multiplication. A micro-church is an intentionally streamlined approach to church that’s often small, volunteer-led, and informal; they can be high-impact spiritual families. The funding, locations, and critical mass required to launch a micro-church are inexpensive and small making these churches more flexible. Because of this flexibility, any church can plant a micro-church. Can you create time this fall to learn about the micro-church movement and how your church can participate?
  4. Engage new paradigms for leadership development. As the North American mission field continues to become more diverse, the need for hyper-localized ministry training increases. We have never had more access to educational resources, but churches cannot rely on a one-size-fits-all approach. We need individuals who can customize and tailor leadership resources to fit specific missional contexts. Not only do churches need discipleship pathways, but they also need adaptable curricula that view education as an ongoing process. Programs within our Wesleyan schools (see complete list below) are providing innovative education on how to adapt leadership curriculum to complement different missional contexts. Have you given thought to leadership development in your context?
  5. Enlist New Funding Models for Mission. According to Baptist News Global, as of 2020, the average church in the U.S. was made up of 65 people with an average annual income of $120,000, and the average age of pastors was 57 (Mark Wingfield). Churches that once comfortably employed their pastors and part-time staff are now operating on thin financial margins. This crisis, however, can be seized as an opportunity to develop new missional funding models. Many churches are embracing co-vocational models where pastors are called to serve the congregation as well as work elsewhere in the community. Other churches are implementing a variety of social ventures which prioritize the dual purpose of serving the community and creating capital (MissionBox). Churches should also continue to develop new missional projects that do not require huge capital investments in property or staff. How can your church explore new and creative funding models?

To learn more about 5 Shifts for Missional Impact, see the following resources: 

Warren Bird, 5 Trends in Microchurches. Outreach Magazine, December 21, 2017.

Clint Clifton, Demystifying Church Planter Funding, New Churches, November 15, 2021.

Skye Jethani, Apostles Today?, Christianity Today, April 1, 2008.

David Johnson, What Is Your Discipleship Pathway? Influence, January 7, 2016.

Madeleine Monson-Rosen, Social Ventures and Non-Profit Organizations, MissionBox Global Network, April 1, 2020.

Mark Wingfield, Largest-ever U.S. Congregational Survey Confirms What Church Consultants Have Been Telling You, Baptist News Global, October 15, 2021.

Wesleyan Universities Ministry Programs:
Houghton University – Pastoral Ministry
Indiana Wesleyan U – Online Associates in Christian Ministries
Kingswood U – Extended
Oklahoma Wesleyan U Pastoral Ministry Program 
Southern Wesleyan U – Flex Program
Wesley Seminary – Online Master of Divinity

Book Recommendations:
Brian Sanders, Micro Churches: A Smaller Way 
Ralph Moore, How Nearly Anyone Can Start A Microchurch

Intellectual contributor: Dr. Eric Hallett, district superintendent of the Central Canada District of The Wesleyan Church.

Executive editor: Johanna Rugh

Curator of content: Dave Higle