MISSION STUDY First Presbyterian Church
What is the Mission Study?
A Mission Study is the process that a congregation goes through to seek discernment about how God would have that church to be and to act in the future. It is led by a committee of the Session, called the Mission Study Team (MST). The process results in a Mission Study Report presented to the Session for approval and to the New Hope Presbytery Committee on Ministry for review. This process is required by Presbytery before a congregation can elect a Pastoral Nominating Committee and begin the search for a new pastor.
How is the Mission Study unique?
The congregational Mission Study differs from corporate Strategic Planning even though both end up with a Vision and a list of Goals and Objectives.
- The first and foremost difference is that as a church we always seek to examine ourselves and our actions in the light of scripture and prayerfully to ask God’s guidance as we try to determine the work that God wants us to do in a certain time and place.
- Secondly, unlike most corporations, the church is a volunteer organization. The corporate model in which leadership sets direction and tells staff to follow it does not work well in a church. It is important to involve as much of the congregation as possible in the process of self-examination and decision-making. There are two reasons for this. One is that as Reformed Christians we believe both in the priesthood of believers and in the corporate body of the church — that together we are richer and wiser than we are separately. The second is to develop a sense of ownership within the congregation of the new directions for the ministry of that church in the coming years.
What is the congregation’s role in the Mission Study?
A well-founded Mission Study includes fact-finding about the congregation and the community in which it ministers. It provides an opportunity for members of the congregation prayerfully to study what scripture says about the church, to learn new information about its community and its needs, to learn who they have been and who they are as a congregation, and to celebrate their gifts as a church. Once this period of learning is complete, then the congregation has the information it needs to begin to design its Vision and develop new Goals and Objectives for its ministry. The Mission Study Report will describe the process followed for the study, provide all the information discovered during the process about both the community and the church, and present the new Vision, along with Goals and Objectives for living out the Vision. Once a congregation knows itself, knows where it wants to go, and has made a serious effort to understand where God wants it to go, it is ready to ask itself what kind of pastor is needed to help make the Vision reality and start a search for that pastor.