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November 1987


Editorial Comment

It's Happening: More and More People are Caught Up in the "Generic," Overall Cause of Missions

Generic Missions Promotion Larry Walker Style

ACMC: Bringing it Down to the Grass Roots

Mission Policy and Strategy Statements

Around the World

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Mission Policy and Strategy Statements

—John Holzmann

It’s almost impossible to talk to old hands at ACMC without hearing some reference to policy and strategy statements. In fact, the number of times these subjects come up, you’d think maybe ACMC should be called the Society for Promoting Church Missions Policy and Strategy Statements.

Ed Huizingh, ACMC area coordinator for Arizona, said he promotes written policy statements because he has found “most churches have only a vague idea of what they’re after.” If they were to have written policies, not only would it force them to state clearly what it is they are seeking to accomplish, but it would provide programmatic stability and direction.

“If your policy is merely verbalized, its going to change from year to year. When leadership changes—when a new pastor comes, when the missions committee changes—you won’t know where you’re going. But when a policy has been prayed over and written down, then you’ll know the direction.”

Curt Dobbs of Reinhardt Bible Church in Dallas said a written policy “pre-decides, objectively, where you’re going with your program”—a much better idea than having to make decisions in the heat of the moment.

He suggested a “worst case” scenario. “Suppose your committee is confronted by the chairman of the board of deacons who controls the church budget. He wants the church to support his daughter, who’s been a Christian for two years, and who wants to go with the Las Vegas Mission to speak to gamblers about God’s claims upon their money . . . .”

A mission committee with no written policy statement could have a difficult time, indeed, turning down such a request, Dobbs said.

“A policy statement helps make a church predictable,” said Roy Smith, western states regional coordinator for ACMC. “Rather than merely supporting missionaries who happen to be able to ‘wow’ the congregation, you have a reason for doing what you’re doing.”

“If we agree to plan ahead,” said Smith, “and I believe the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25 teaches that we must, then the next question we have to answer is what should we plan for?

“Based on the parable of the talents, the very next parable in Matthew 25, I believe we need to plan to double. Sadly, too many churches are merely maintaining. That’s what the guy with the one talent did—he kept what he had, and the Lord condemned him for it! It was the servants who doubled their investments whom the Lord honored.”

Carol Wilson of East Lansing Trinity Church, East Lansing, Michigan, said that two years ago, her church had a policy statement but lacked a strategy. “We had our methods down: we knew when and where we were supposed to meet. What we lacked was a statement of WHY.”

To find out WHY, the committee appointed a strategy subcommittee to answer such questions as “Who are we?” and “What’s unique about our church?” “We figured the answers to those questions would help us discover the specific direction God wants our church to go,” said Wilson.

It took the committee a year and a half to come up with a strategy statement, but when it was done, it produced excitement. The Trinity missions program now has not only a greater sense of direction, but of purpose as well.

Wilson said that in plenary sessions of the mission committee they now give “Strategic Updates”—five-minute presentations dealing with strategic issues: the suffering church, urbanization, being a sending church.

“The strategy statement is a tool for evaluation of what we’re doing,” she said. Among other things, “it’s helping us define how we counsel, educate, and lead our young people.”

“Our missions program used to be based on‘Nickels and Noses’: How many people can we support for how much money? Now we’re praying and strategizing for winning the world.”

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