Living with shifting missional foci

One of the common characteristics of missional teams, gospel communities and household churches is that they have missional foci (or ‘focuses’ if you prefer). They can’t reach everyone. They can’t contextualise to everyone. So they focus on specific target groups or communities.

Tonight our team is going to be talking about our missional foci. Again. Yes, we seem to keep coming back to this topic. I’ve been worrying that we keep revisiting it because we keep getting it wrong. But I’ve come to realize this is the way it ought to be.

That’s because new missional opportunities open up, others go nowhere. It’s not something you can lock down. You need to be constantly responding to a changing situation and new opportunities.

Indeed it can be a mistake is to try to predetermine your missional foci. It’s often better to see what emerges out of the passions of team members and the opportunities they encounter. The Holy Spirit is the great mission strategist.

The important thing is to set a culture in which team members know what we are about. For us that includes our ten core values and our mission strategy of (1) building relationships, (2) sharing the gospel, and (3) introducing people to the shared life of the Christian community (see diagram below). If people understand this then you don’t need a plan or programme. You can release them to pursue opportunities, confident they will know what to do as they respond to changing situations. You don’t need to agree everything beforehand.  The job of the leadership or the team meeting is then to organise the chaos that results. That process still needs to happen because we’re committed to doing mission together rather than as lone rangers.

In reality it’s an iterative process because obviously people make choices about how they use their time. As we discuss new opportunites so people make new choices about what they do. That’s why the conversation about foci is worth having. Again.

The three strands of evangelism (Total Church)


12 thoughts on “Living with shifting missional foci

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  3. Tim,

    For me there would be the struggle between the excitment of the new compared to the long term hard work and commitment needed for what we already have.

    It must be so hard to untangle godly passions and opportunities from the temptations above – what would you suggest?


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  5. hi Tim,
    praise the name of jesus christ,
    am reading what God is doing in life and ministry, the passion, desire and the fire. all joined together to see the world changed. yes we can achived the change , all things are possible with him that believes and with God.
    we need to see more in the missin field, going on short term mission and long term mission as well, all professionals and we need to see more house churches,church planting mission and also ministries/individual working to bring an answer to the dying world,God has not changed, the answer to the world problems will come from the church and the church needs to stand and stand in authority as christ commanded and go out.
    i invite you and team for church planting mission and also ministry to the cell groups

    pastor william in kenya africa
    + 254 720 228712

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  8. Thank you so much Tim, I posted it in our newsletter for this week with the ‘credit’ statement. I am thankful for your ministry, and drinking in a bunch of the audios (for the 2nd time) and reading TC now. When I shared the TC introduction with our house church this week, one of our members exclaimed, “Derek, that must have been what the earthquake was about in Berkeley County a few weeks ago.” He was commenting on how much OUR ministries are alike and I did not even know you were out there until I saw the excerpt. I would like to touch base with you, but also know that your time is valuable (as is mine) and obtain some coaching or pointed in a direction for this… thank you again…

  9. Thanks Derek for the comment. I hope it proves helpful. Not sure about causing an earthquake! I’m coming over to the east coast of the States in the fall, but I’m not sure when I’ll next be on the west coast.


  10. Thanks, I will stay in touch and hope to meet you in person some day…

    Eph 6:18-20 NASB With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, (19) and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, (20) for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.

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