Organize your church according to how the Spirit leads. Design your church building and the way you use your space to reflect the ways the Spirit is guiding you to minister. Look back at your religious heritage and your particular congregation’s history to understand where you’ve been as you pray about where you are now and where the Spirit may want you to go in the future. Clarify your church’s core values and ask how congruent your ministry practices are with the values you hold about ministry. Shape your congregation’s culture so it more faithfully and fully represents God’s purposes in the world. Regularly take inventory of the people and resources flowing into your church and the ministry that’s flowing out. Ask how, in light of this information, your church can better impact it’s community. When deciding on how to design your core missional practices (worship, education and discipleship, care and fellowship, service, and witness), go with what the Spirit is leading you to do rather than just with what style is most popular. Ask the Spirit to keep your congregation’s vision fresh and develop its leadership and infrastructure (such as communication, facilities, and finances). Help all your church’s members understand their vocation in the world and deploy their gifts to participate in God’s mission in the world.

Pursue growth and development. Invite the Holy Spirit to use a variety of things to develop and grow your congregation: conflict, adverse circumstances, ministry to people on the margins of society, intentional strategy, divine intervention, and new insights into the Gospel and your culture. Account for the reality of sin as you assess your church’s growth, and expect your congregation to sometimes be misunderstood or even mistreated as it follows the Spirit’s leading. Be willing to forgive, be humble, and work together with grace. Expect resistance to changes; commit plenty of time and invest plenty of energy into implementing them. Be graceful as you make changes – ranging from minor improvements to major re-creations – trusting the Spirit to guide you every step of the way.

Adapted from The Ministry of the Missional Church: A Community Led by the Spirit, copyright 2007 by Craig Van Gelder. Published by Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Mich., www.bakerbooks.com
Craig Van Gelder serves as professor of congregational mission at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is the author of
The Essence of the Church and the editor of Confident Witness – Changing World.