With our mission clearly set to Be a Movement Making Disciples That Make Disciples, it is time to shift to the plan to carry out this mission. In keeping with our theme of staying simple, a church's or ministry's plan does not have to be a complicated book full of rules and regulations if we intend to let Jesus build and run His own church. While we strive to communicate our mission in a minute or less, we also strive to capture all the essential aspects of our disciple-making plan on no more than one page.
Why a "Plan on a Page"?
I am coming from an institutional church (IC) background as part of a denomination. We had a pretty thick and comprehensive manual for our church policies, government, doctrines, sacraments, etc. There were rules and regulations from how to run a board meeting to acquiring property to membership requirements and dozens of other issues. There is nothing inherently wrong with all that. Organizations need many of those things in place to function, but one can get away from the fact that so many policies and guidelines have to be put in effect for the purpose of exclusion. It is often important for organizations to define what they are not willing to do or support, so the list gets longer and longer and longer. For them, it is necessary to identify who is in and who is out.
But I want to be sure that we are focused on simple, reproducible, non-negotiable norms for all disciples. Some people refer to them as the "irreducible minimum" standards of what characterize a group or movement. Our "Plan on a Page" is the how of our mission and consists of the core practices that will define us.
I cannot stress enough just how important this document is because of what it implies. There are only four components that we recognize as absolutely mandatory to fulfill the Great Commission that Jesus set out. By even creating this document and making the claim that this is all that is necessary to be part of the genuine church, it quickly becomes our doctrinal statement, too. All four items are relevant to ALL followers and are not reserved for selected individuals, such as pastors or priests. In fact, each of the following actions can be carried out by any disciple, anywhere and at any time.
Summary of what is on our Plan on a Page:
Our plan is to carry out four practices to make disciples that make disciples.
PRAYING - Because it is how Jesus taught us to learn to care about what God cares about
GOING - So that we can be doing good everywhere God sends us
BAPTIZING - Letting people know that Jesus washes away our sins and we want to follow Him wholeheartedly
TEACHING - Obeying and spreading Jesus' command to love
My understanding of what the church is and how it works has gone from a 399-page manual to something much simpler. In fact, it takes 397 less pages for us to convey the both the mission and plan that direct our simple church! I trust that puts my paradigm shift in perspective.