Grow to the 5th

Recently I have been thinking about a focused mission for the local church I serve at.  At the Church I serve there are a number of wonderful ministries which go on but there is also a great lack of communication and focus.  It is very good to be so diversified, however that diversity comes at a cost of everyone has their "pet ministry" which is allowed to exist with only a loose connection to the overall mission of the local church.  This is not very "connectional" as we say in the UMC and it creates a number of minor to major frustrations.  For instance:

We wonder about the low numbers at some ministries which are really great ministries
We wonder how to help people "plug in" and serve
We wonder how to "pitch" the church's mission to our neighbors
We wonder why we are not growing in ways we want to grow
We wonder why there is a lack of communication between groups and people

We end up wondering about a great number of things which I believe could be alleviated if there was a directly focused mission for the local church to use to plug their "pet ministry" into as well as empower people to create new ministries while knowing they are not standing alone.

So in light of some of this as well as conversations with others and an awareness of some of the amazing work done by staff and two committees of AHUMC, I want to share the idea of "grow to the 5th".

This is not an original idea, rather it builds on a number of other things, those stated above as well as the 5 Practices of a fruitful congregation.

The idea is this:

Each person is given a matrix which has the five practices along the top (Radical hospitality, Passionate worship, Risk-taking mission/service, Intentional faith development and Extravagant generosity).  The are the column headers.  Each column is organized so that all the ministries of the local church are organized to "fit" into one of the columns.  From this matrix people are invited to self assess themselves on a scale from 1 (not engaged) to 5 (fruitful) in each area.

So for instance, you might look at the "Passionate Worship" column and see there are things such as:
Sunday worship
Mid-week worship
Special worship (Ash Wednesday, etc.)
Communion server
Worship committee
Worship band
Choir ensembles
Liturgical dancer
Liturgical reader
Certified Lay speaker
Share a personal testimony 

When you look at this column you might consider how involved you are in worship in light of all the opportunities and give yourself a number from 1-5.  You repeat this process for each column until you have all five of your numbers.

After you have your five numbers, your score might look like this
Hospitality - 3
Worship - 1
Faith development - 3
Mission/Service - 2
Generosity - 2

You are then invited to chart yourself so it might look something like this:

At this point you have a visual tool by which you can then work on "growing to the 5th" ring.  You can choose which areas you want to focus on for a season in order to grow closer to the 5th in that area.  Perhaps you might begin to see that while you might be highly active in the local church your involvement may only be in only one area - leading to an imbalanced spiritual development.

The idea of "growing to the 5th" can also be used to assess the entire local church's ministries.  This can even be a tool for churches in the Central Texas Conference to visually see how close they are to becoming a "5 Star Church" (if you do not know what that is, then you ought to ask your Central Texas Conference minister).

"Growing to the 5th" can also be a tool to talk about and assess how we are doing with the 5 membership vows of "prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness".  Perhaps you want to "grow to the 5th" in your understanding of the 4 Gospels and the book of Acts.  Perhaps you are seeking to better engage 5 spiritual disciples (or any number for that matter) and this would help you be intentional about growing.

Bottom line, "growing to the 5th" is not a silver bullet to cure all the ailments of well intentioned but diluted ministry in a local church. It is however an attempt to focus the efforts of the local church to in order to better increase communication, cross pollination, ability to talk about the "why" of church, and give people goals to work toward (for those of you in the gaming world this functions much like "achievements").

I believe there is a rich mine of ideas in this simple (perhaps plagiarized?) concept.  I invite thoughts on this as well as questions so that we might better begin to shape this into a model which may be helpful for others to plagiarize.