MAP for Churches and Cooperative Parishes

05.27.24 | Congregational Development

MAP is an acronym for Missional Action Planning.

Missional: We are a missional people. We are created and called by God, enlivened by Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit to accept and proclaim grace as we create Beloved Community in our communities and the world.  In mission, the Word becomes flesh and we live an incarnate faith – pursuing acts of love, service, healing and renewal. We embrace both the Great Commandment, as we seek to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves; and the Great Commission as we work to make disciples of all nations. With openness and gratitude, we respond to the leading of the Spirit as we become a sign, instrument and foretaste of the Kingdom of God. 

The mission of the Church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world by proclaiming the Good News of God's grace and by exemplifying Jesus' command to love God and neighbor, thus seeking the fulfillment of God's reign and realm in the world.

Action: We all have the power to act. What are we doing with that power? There is a difference between being busy and purposeful action, just as there is a difference between knowing and doing. MAP asks us to behave in alignment with what we say we believe as Christ followers. We don’t merely talk about it being missional, but we intentionally build action steps that lead to God’s preferred future. Given the gap that exists between the church, community and God’s preferred future, we often need to stop trying to perfect existing ministries and instead experiment with what is needed in this current age. As we listen to and learn from those outside the walls of the church, try something new and learn from failure, and develop partnerships we are all a part of MAP.

Planning: We plan so that we might collectively engage in mission together strategically. “Mission strategy is a divinely inspired plan to build relationships, organize people, utilize assets and liberate congregations for the thriving of communities,” say Dr. Joseph W. Daniels, Jr. and Christie Latona in Connecting for a Change: How to Engage People, Organizations and Partners to Inspire Hope in Your Community.

In one word, MAP is about love. We are loved by God and are living out that love in ways that create vitality and abundant life. Our response to God’s love transforms us into engaged disciples, making a difference in the communities in which we live and serve. 

MAP calls us to leverage and strengthen our presence in our communities for the good of all God’s creation. It isn’t a program, but a mindset and a process to enable 100 percent of our congregations to become 100 percent vital and thriving. It is more than simply being involved in the community or having a plan. This process is a collaborative one of discernment, prioritization, and stewardship as we seek to love God and neighbor and live out the Great Commission. 

Watch this video to understand what we mean by vitality. 

You and your congregation are invited to take a journey to vitality. Regardless of where you begin, you will need to navigate through several common points of growth along the way. No two churches are the same. There are many starting points, many destinations, and God-sized adventures all along the way. As churches become 100% vital we anticipate seeing the fruit of that vitality inside and outside the church walls. The fruit will be as varied and unique as the  churches and neighborhoods are. 

Each church is invited to join this journey toward vitality through MAP. Download this brochure to learn more about individual church or cooperative parish Missional Action Planning (iMAP) journey. 

There are resources available for each stop along the journey.

  • Congregational Readiness. Is the congregation able, willing and committed to do the deep work necessary to thrive even if it entails doing things that are uncomfortable or something that we don’t see as a benefit? If you don't know, consider being a part of the Readiness Initiative or taking the Readiness 360 survey.
  • Who Are We? Who Are Our Neighbors? Through deep listening, data, prayer and discernment, identify the congregation’s personality, passion, values, purpose and theology and define the pain point or opportunity in the community with those impacted. While Readiness 360 helps us better understand ourselves, MissionInsite is a tool that helps us better understand our neighbors but is only a first step in building relationships with them. Want to go deeper? Consider being a part of the Readiness InitiativeCatalyst Initiative or the Fresh Expressions Academy.
  • God-Fueled Imagination. Awaken creativity and possibility, seek clarity of what God is calling the church to, risk and experiment to learn, and intentionally discern how to live out God’s will for the church and its neighbors. Want a guide? Consider being a part of the Catalyst Initiative or the Fresh Expressions Academy.
  • Ministry Clarity. Focus on what God is calling the church to by testing concepts with committed neighbors and partners, ensuring there is proven community demand and then developing a growth and sustainability plan. Schedule a conversation with your superintendent and Christie Latona who will support you to connect with the next best resource person or process.

You will likely need to revisit the above four stops as you deepen your learning and understanding of where God is calling and to test/implement the idea(s). It is not a to-do list, but an iterative process. As you dream and discern, God may call you to re-imagine the use of your space (e.g., repurpose or reconfigure space for strategic, missional partnership). If this requires property re-development with significant investment, you'll want to create a request for proposal to find an expert tour guide before embarking on Pre-Development. See resources and contact information for our Property with Purpose Coordinator.

See foundational MAP document