In Part 1 of this two-part conversation, Robert and Mingo reflect on the past 18 months of ministry at Torrey Pines and consider the impact and value of understanding the ideas of mission, vision, and method.
As Mingo and Robert reflect on their experience of the past 18 months of ministry at Torrey Pines, Mingo describes his struggle to find the vision for accomplishing the mission of Torrey Pines and the EastLake Church Network, which is: people helping people find and follow Jesus. The mission is beautiful, but Mingo felt like he was waiting for an “aha” moment that would show him exactly how this could be accomplished.
Then he stumbled across a leadership lesson from Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback: “Vision is not an invisible, far out there thing. Vision is what’s right in front of you. The greatest application of vision is to discern what you see and move towards the mission accordingly.” This insight released all the pressure Mingo had felt about finding vision for Torrey Pines.
“Vision isn’t predicting the future, but it’s seeing what’s right in front of you,” Mingo says, echoing Rick’s teachings. “Great leaders can see and focus on what’s right in front of them, they can make decisions, and they can move their organization, ministry, or business through those obstacles, utilizing discerning vision.”
What about mission? “Mission is the thing you’re always going to be about,” Mingo says. Essentially, you should feel like you’re marrying the mission. It’s something that you can devote yourself to completely. It should become the central part of your ministry or organization, an unchangeable core.
The mission statement you create around that mission should be simple and memorable so people will be able to remember and follow it, Robert adds. “People helping people find and follow Jesus” is a great example of this. Ultimately, having an unchanging mission that you’re dedicated to is “imperative,” says Mingo, “because out of mission comes methods: all the things we’re going to do to see the mission accomplished.”
The methods, on the other hand, should be expected to change. If you marry the mission, date the methods; that is, be flexible and allow the ebb and flow of God’s plan to change up the way you approach the mission. Be alert to the way God is moving in your ministry, and stay open to changing the methods. “[People] think that changing the method is abandoning the mission, and it’s not true,” says Mingo. “You’ve got to be willing to flex on the methods.”
Between mission and methods comes vision, and vision allows you “to discern what the right method ought to be.” Vision is where you may find your methods differing from those of other churches based on your unique situation and what God is calling you to do. “This is the danger in copying ministry from what you see online or what you hear works in another place,” Mingo warns. “What works by method in one territory or geographic location doesn’t guarantee you that it’s going to work in yours. You’ve got to be willing to risk, use your vision to see what’s in front of you, and then test and ‘date’ some methods to see the mission accomplished.”