Missional Church (PMC)
Partnership for Missional Church (PMC)
Deep congregational cultural transformation for mission in a changing culture
For several years now most of our provision in Diocesan training and development has focused on individuals. Clergy and lay leaders have been equipped, either for taking up ministry roles or to reflect upon their leadership and return to their context. While engaging individual leaders has produced positive fruit in a number of ways and continues to do so, it is fair to say that this approach has not delivered large-scale culture change in congregations towards an outward-looking missional orientation. The background to this is that for the past 30-40 years our Western culture has been undergoing a significant change (or “paradigm shift” as it is known by some) which is not as yet complete. Every organization faces the challenge of adapting to this changing culture (e.g. Woolworths who didn’t and M&S who may have) and our churches are no exception. The question is then how can the culture of a Christian community, a congregation, be directly engaged in ways which transform that culture – and, at the same time make it a significant player in its own community and context? The aim being that the congregation becomes missional in both its core being and all its action. One possibility which has been around in the USA for 20+ years and more recently in South Africa is something called Partnership for Missional Church (PMC). Several churches in our diocese have been engaging in this three-year process since 2012.
PMC has been developed by the organization Church Innovations, (CI), headed up by U.S. theologian Pat Keifert and others which is based in USA but works internationally. The key text book, written by Keifert which explains the process fully, is called We Are Here Now. See www.churchinnovations.org
Theologically the process (those involved insist it is an organic process and not a programme) sits in a ‘missional church’ frame and connects with the Gospel and Our Culture network that grew out the work of Lesslie Newbigin. There are several things to note about its emphases;
• Works with the sense that God is active and at work in both church and world and that we need to discover ‘God’s preferred and promised future’ for a given church – in this sense it ties up directly with our vision Joining together in the transforming mission of God
• Is a learning process for everyone which returns theology to its original locus in the congregation while involving the theological “academy” – in our case St. John’s
• Empowers widespread participation & church members as disciples
• Is not prescriptive or about quick fixes but addresses fundamental orientations, attitudes and approaches to discipleship and community transformation
• Every church discovers a different outcome
• Is a patient, long-term, deep, ‘faith-filled’ and spiritual process
• It therefore touches in significant ways on all of Living Worship, Growing Disciples and Seeking Justice.
In USA (where around 95% of all congregations have less than 50 members!) research shows that congregations who stay in the process (there is an attrition rate as it isn’t a ‘quick fix’) grow in worship attendance, conversions, lay leadership base, and in partnership with constituencies outside the church.
PMC is one strand offered by the diocese for churches seeking congregational change to effect their mission in and to their communities.