Mission Action Planning is the process that Derby Diocese supports in helping parishes to develop a strategic mission focus. We therefore encourage every parish to consider making Mission Action Planning a central part of its mission strategy.
However, the idea is not to produce a MAP ‘because the Bishop said so’. Such a MAP is much less likely to have the commitment of the clergy, PCC and congregation in that parish, and is therefore is much less likely to be effective.
So why should a parish consider producing a MAP?
Without a mission strategy, we are susceptible to several different dangers:
The danger of mission taking a back seat
Without a deliberate strategy for mission, the day to day running of the parish can tend to take over so that there is always something more urgent to be done.
The danger of mission following the same well-worn path
The direction of mission in the parish is never challenged and therefore never changes – and so it is likely to fail. In a changing culture our mission needs constant review.
The danger of mission being haphazard
Mission simply becomes a collection of random ‘good ideas’, not necessarily taking account of the gifts of the church, the needs of the community or the guiding of the Holy Spirit.
All three elements – Mission, Planning and Action – are important in any mission strategy.
The five marks of Mission, adopted by the General Synod of the Church of England in 1996, speak of mission in the following terms:
To proclaim the good news of the Kingdom
To teach, baptise and nurture new believers
To respond to human need by loving service
To seek to transform unjust structures of society
To strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth
Our diocesan vision also speaks of growth in terms which support this wider definition of mission; growth in spiritual depth, in numbers and in impact on the communities of Derbyshire.
Mission Action Planning helps to maintain this wider focus on mission in our common life.
There are significant opportunities for the church in the communities that we find ourselves. Most often, there are more opportunities than we can take, and God will not be calling us to all of them at once.
Mission Action Planning helps us to consider strategically which areas God is calling us to in mission, and which he is not. We can then focus on the right things, in order that we may do them to the very best of our ability and know that we have done them well.
In any process there is a danger that there will be a lot of talking; that this talking produces a very exciting document; and that this document is safely filed away where it can’t do any harm!
MAPs help us to see that we turn vision in to action, completing the work, seeing God’s Kingdom advanced because of it and bringing glory to God in the wider church and community. Our aim isn't to produce a Mission Action Plan. MAPs are simply a process we use to do what God is calling us to do.
So perhaps a better title for this section might be… why not produce a MAP?