Willimon on Mission vs. Maintenance

This was posted on William Willimon's blog some time back. It came to mind today.


1. In measuring the effectiveness, the maintenance congregation
asks, “How many pastoral visits are being made? The mission
congregation asks, “How many disciples are being made?”

2. When contemplating some form of change, the maintenance
congregation says, “If this proves upsetting to any of our members, we
won’t do it.” The mission congregation says, “If this will help us
reach someone on the outside, we will take the risk and do it.”

3. When thinking about change, the majority of members in a
maintenance congregation ask, “How will this affect me?” The majority
of members in the mission congregation ask, “Will this increase our
ability to reach those outside?”

4. When thinking of its vision for ministry, the maintenance
congregation says, “We have to be faithful to our past.” The mission
congregation says, “We have to be faithful to our future.”

5. The pastor in the maintenance congregation says to the newcomer,
“I’d like to introduce you to some of our members.” In the mission
congregation the members say, “We’d like to introduce you to our

6. When confronted with a legitimate pastoral concern, the pastor in
the maintenance congregation asks, “How can I meet this need?” The
pastor in the mission congregation asks, “How can this need be met?”

7. The maintenance congregation seeks to avoid conflict at any cost
(but rarely succeeds). The mission congregation understands that
conflict is the price of progress, and is willing to pay the price. It
understands that it cannot take everyone with it. This causes some
grief, but it does not keep it from doing what needs to be done.

8. The leadership style in the maintenance congregation is primarily
managerial, where leaders try to keep everything in order and running
smoothly. The leadership style in a mission congregation is primarily
transformational, casting a vision of what can be, and marching off the
map in order to bring the vision into reality.

9. The maintenance congregation is concerned with their
congregation, its organizations and structure, its constitutions and
committees. The mission congregation is concerned with the culture,
with understanding how secular people think and what makes them tick.
It tries to determine their needs and their points of accessibility to
the Gospel.

10. When thinking about growth, the maintenance congregations asks,
“How many Lutherans live within a twenty-minute drive of this church?”
The mission congregation asks, “How many unchurched people live within
a twenty-minute drive of this church?”

11. The maintenance congregation looks at the community and asks,
“How can we get these people to support our congregation?” The mission
congregation asks, “How can the Church support these people?”

12. The maintenance congregation thinks about how to save their
congregation. The mission congregation thinks about how to reach the

Dr. Tim Spivey is Pastor of New Vintage Church in Escondido, California. He is the author of numerous articles and one book, "Jesus: The Powerful Servant." A sought after speaker for events, Tim also serves as Adjunct Professor of Religion at Pepperdine University. Tim serves as a church consultant, and his writings are featured on numerous websites, including: ChurchLeaders.com, Church Executive magazine, Faith Village, Sermon Central, and Giving Rocket.

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