Why are some organizations, companies, and maybe even some Churches just not that exciting to be a part of? Looking back on history there is a strong case to be made that organizations with a strong, compelling, world-changing mission are the most exciting to be a part of. When President John F. Kennedy said we were going to land on the moon, he mobilized a nation around that exciting goal. Catholic Relief Services have the goal of “helping the world’s poorest.” Most sports team’s mission is simple: win the championship. The mission gives us a compelling answer to the reason: Why? Why do we exist? Why are we doing what we’re doing? Why should we make sacrifices or do the hard things?

It isn’t very compelling to be part of an organization that is primarily focused on maintenance, or maintaining a status quo. What if our goal in marriage was to stay the same forever? Or what if your job at work was to keep everything exactly the same? What if the Church you went to was only concerned with everything staying exactly the same? Would you feel welcomed? Would you grow closer to God? It is interesting that Jesus had very little patience with the Pharisees of his time, people who were very concerned with maintaining a status quo around a legalistic view of religion.

An organization with a world-changing mission is contagious. You want to be a part and help change the world! A strong mission directs all our energy, time, talent, treasure, and prayers towards a common goal. We start working together. And everyone has a clear picture of where they fit in the mission. Viktor Frankl said “Those who have a ‘why’ to live, can bear with almost any ‘how’.” 

The exciting part is Jesus gave our Church the greatest mission ever: “Go, and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19) This is called the Great Commission, and it is the mission of the Church. It’s called evangelization, and it’s “in fact the grace and vocation proper to the Church, her deepest identity. She exists in order to evangelize.” (Evangelii Nuntiandi #14). Every Catholic Church in the world participates in this mission and carries it out in a specific corner of the world. So we could say, the mission of St. Francis of Assisi is to “Go, and make disciples of Grapevine!”. And when people become disciples, or followers of Jesus, they also take up this mission. Pope Francis adds that these are then “missionary disciples”. “In virtue of their baptism, all the members of the People of God have become missionary disciples.” (Evangelii Gaudium #120)

So what does it take to transform a Church and a city for Jesus Christ? We need a mission, and mission-minded leaders. 

Here are some differences in thinking between mission-minded leaders and maintenance-minded people.

  • Mission-minded leaders will change the world, and they will change our Church. They are:
    • frustrated by the status quo
    • Others-focused
    • Don’t give up when things are challenging
    • Tell everyone around them!
    • Roll up their sleeves
    • Enjoy the team effort
    • Not afraid of mistakes or failures
    • Excited by intentional change (with purpose and meaning)
    • Inspired by the mission-minded vision
    • 1 “Will this help us reach new people? Lets take a risk.”
    • 2 How many disciples are we making?
    • 3 “Will this increase our ability to reach new people?”
    • 4 “We have to be faithful to the future.”
    • 5 How can this need be met (by the Church).
    • 6 How many non-Catholics live within 2 minutes of us?
  • Maintenance-minded people
    • Territorial: My pew, my group, my time, my parking spot
    • Me-focused
    • Get frustrated by challenge
    • Invite people less often
    • Resistant to any change
    • Afraid to make mistakes or to fail
    • Avoids conflict
    • Discouraged by the mission-minded vision
    • 1 “Will this make people upset? Don’t try it.”
    • 2 How many members do we have?
    • 3 “How will this affect me?”
    • 4 “We have to be faithful to the past”
    • 5 How can the staff meet this need?
    • 6 How many Catholics live within 20 minutes of us?

Are you willing to be mission-minded or maintenance-minded? We need your help! Join us as we follow Jesus on the mission of building a Church of missionary disciples in Grapevine!

This blog was written by Edmund Mitchell, Director of Catechesis & Evangelization here at St. Francis of Assisi. If you’re interested in writing a blog for St. Francis of Assisi, please contact Joseph at [email protected].