Home    David Mays   July 23, 2008


Introducing Missions Strategy

David Mays


Why Strategy?

Several years ago a movement among churches was initiated by the assertion of a well-known West Coast pastor, “It’s not enough to be faithful, a church must be effective.”  This movement has been titled by Rick Warren as “The Purpose-Driven Church.” 


Purpose-driven means that all activities, programs, and efforts are designed, carried out, and evaluated to fulfill the church’s purpose.  In other words, a church should be organized around its purpose or purposes.  Similar thinking has pervaded mission efforts.  The church is a steward of the resources entrusted to it.  Church leaders have a responsibility to invest those resources effectively.


Perhaps we sometimes presume upon God to make us effective, even if we don’t work to become effective.  And God, who is the master planner, has accomplished much more than we could have dreamed.  However, because we know so much more about the world than previous generations, it is reasonable to think that God may expect us to apply the knowledge available to us and to work toward becoming as effective as possible.  As church leaders we are responsible for wise use of the resources entrusted to us.  God doesn't leave it up to us.  He will guide us as we seek His wisdom.


Local church missions leaders have been aware for some time that they have increasing responsibility to be effective with their missions resources.  The aiming for effectiveness often takes the form of developing a missions strategy.


In the past church leaders have mostly supported the visions and strategies of a variety of mission organizations and individuals and trusted them to do what God called them to do in the world.  But during the 1980s and 90s, mission and church leaders began to discover that much of what God wants done in the world has been omitted or neglected.  Church leaders began to ask about their responsibility to direct their resources toward accomplishing God’s purposes in the world.  Hence strategy.


Every church has a strategy.

Every church has a missions strategy.  They may have a written strategy that they faithfully follow.  They may have a written strategy that is largely ignored.  Or there may be nothing written.  In any case there are reasons and values behind the decisions that are made to invest missions resources.  Someone has a “strategy.”  It may be the denomination, a pastor, a missions enthusiast, the elder board, parents of missionaries, or someone with a strong voice.  Someone takes the lead in deciding where missions resources go and such people have reasons.  These preferences and values may be commonly known and shared or they may be unknown or not understood.


An important part of developing a missions strategy is to clarify how missions decisions have been made in the past and how they are being made now.  What are the values and priorities that drive the decisions?  It is important that the decision-making group clarify, openly and honestly, why they make the decisions they do and why their predecessors made the decisions they did.  Do we follow historical precedent?  Do we favor people we know or those a key person knows?  Do we vote the partly line with our denomination?  Do some of us have vested interests in particular missionaries or organizations?  Do we tend to agree with an individual we respect?  Do we accept a proposal because it is uncomfortable to disagree?  


The true reasons for making decisions must be expressed and acknowledged openly, so that covert values will not undermine a future strategy.  


Definition of Strategy

A missions strategy is an intentional plan developed and implemented by a local church that seeks to maximize its impact on the world as every member of the congregation moves toward becoming world Christians.   [Blake McDaniel, ACMC]


Note that a missions strategy consists of two dimensions:

·      External – the deployment of your people and resources into the world, and

·      Internal – the development and mobilization of those resources.

This material deals only with the External or Deployment dimension of strategy.



A Strategy is a Road Map.

It is a how document.  It helps you get from where you are to your destination, to your goal.  It is a road map.  A road map requires two things to be helpful:

1)    You must know your destination.

2)    You must know where you are.


Your Location 

You can find out where you are in missions in a broad overall sense by using the ACMC Missions Assessment Profile (MAP).  The MAP helps a church evaluate the commitment and effectiveness of its mission efforts in twelve key categories.  See the catalog on www.takeitglobal.org 

You can find out where you are in regard to deployment by doing an analysis of your current missions involvements using one or more of the budget grids in the supplemental files.  We will deal with this later in the process.


Your Destination  

A strategy helps guide you to your goal.  It is useful if you have a goal.  It assumes that you know where you want to end up.  To use a road map, you need to know where you are going.

Your missions destination – your goals or priorities – is the first issue dealt with in developing the content of a missions strategy.  It is the foundation for a strategy.  I call this the Key Question:


What does God want to accomplish in the world
through our church?

Note there are three parts to this question:

  1. What does God want done (vs. my individual agenda)?
  2. What does God want done in the world (vs. just our church or community)?
  3. What part belongs to our church?


The strategy development process will help you ask and answer these questions.