Sustaining a Life of Mission: In it for the Long Haul


At our church over the last couple of months we have been talking a lot with our missional community leaders about what it is that leads to breakthrough.  We have a number of communities that have committed to great specific visions, but we seem to keep being reminded that the kind of extended family on mission that we’re trying to build is really hard work!  It doesn’t come from just sharing a good vision, or building up excitement. Often moving from vision to reality feels like a long, hard slog.

flywheelOne of the things that our vicar has been encouraging us to remember is a prinicple developed by Jim Collins.  In his book “Good to Great” Collins talks about flywheels.  These are large mechanical wheels used in farming and industry to store energy.  Getting them moving is very hard but once they are moving they are extremely difficult to stop.  Leading an MC is a bit like getting a flywheel moving.  Getting it going doesn’t just take one thing.  It takes many little pushes.

We are looking for breakthrough, but that always comes after a long build-up.  Abraham, Moses, Jesus and Paul all had a long build up to their breakthrough. We need to be prepared for a long period of build up with many little pushes focused in the same direction.

Here are 5 principles to keep developing build-up:

Consistency: There has to be stability in the run up to breakthrough.  Inconsistency wars against build-up.  This is why predictable patterns are important; a consistent rhythm of Up, In & Out activities as a community develops build-up, and we need to listen to God about which of those three we need to particularly focus on at any given time.

Team: Make space to listen to those around us.  Be aware of the tendency to take on the “heroic leader” role.  Let’s make sure we are listening to our team and our emerging leaders.

Discernment: It is vital that we are asking “What is God saying?” and “How are we going to respond?”  We are all still trying to work out how to do this.  Let’s keep persevering in hearing God and responding.

Perseverance:  1 Thess 5: 24 tells us that God is faithful and He will do it!  Remember that verse as we persevere in what Eugene Peterson calls “a long obedience in the same direction”.

Communication:  Hear the communication of God about who we are in Him.  Bring that to our communities, remind each other what our story is.  Keep communicating God’s calling and vision well.

Does it feel like you are in quite a long period of build-up right now?  Be encouraged and keep going. This time is an incredibly important one for your community.  What are your tips for keeping going in the times of “long hard slog”?  How do you maintain vision and passion?  Do tell us in the comments below.



Ben Askew lives in Harrogate UK with his wife Helen and their family.  He is Pioneer Curate at Kairos Network Church, an Anglican fresh expression seeking to plant Missional Communities across the Harrogate area.  He pinched most of the ideas of this post from his church leader Mark Carey, but doesn’t feel too bad about that because Mark nicked them from other people anyway.