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E
ffective Mutual Ministry Review Methods In secular organizations, many of us have used Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (SWOT) analyses for strategic planning. This process is less effective for church communities because it tends to emphasize analysis over discernment and to describe reality more in terms of positives and negatives than as steps along a journey. A mutual ministry review needs to evaluate community effectiveness and leadership based on our gospel mission, the steps we have taken on our journey, how well we have shared the journey, and our awareness of God journeying with us.

This is often more effective through an Organic Mutual Ministry Review or a Discipleship Review. These models work effectively together and with additional questions appropriate to the life of the particular community.

Organic Mutual Ministry Review (PDF)

The Bible often uses metaphors of fruit and vineyards to describe the people of God and the work to which we are called. Caring for a church, like caring for a vineyard, requires hard work. We labor in the vineyard with God and we plant and water but God gives the growth (I Corinthians 3:6). To bear good fruit, a vineyard needs to be tended over the course of many years. The farming cycle must be repeated: season after season, crops are planted and tended and fruit is gathered and stored. Similarly, year after year, we make plans for our church community, act upon them, and review our activities. The work is never ultimately perfected nor completely finished, and the fruit is not always sweet. Some times pruning is needed or the land needs to lie fallow. Yet when good fruits are gathered, we celebrate and give thanks for the rich harvest. The good fruits of the harvest, as St. Paul describes, are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22).

An Organic Mutual Ministry Review uses an agricultural model for analysis. This is an opportunity to explore how our crops or vineyard are doing, to see: what needs digging and fertilizing (reworking); planting; watering, pruning (tending); what needs to let lie fallow; what we are over tending; what is ready for harvest and festival. Listing our activities according to where they are in the growth process allows us to evaluate our progress in a positive and non-threatening way as well as to reap many benefits of a typical SWOT analysis:

ORGANIC MUTUAL MINISTRY REVIEW

DIG: What needs digging around and fertilizing (reworking)? PLANT: What needs to be planted (exploring, starting, leading)? WATER: What needs watering (tending, over-sight, encouragement)?
NEW SEEDS: What new things should we consider doing? LIE FALLOW: What needs to be put on hold for a while? CELEBRATE: What needs harvesting and/or a harvest fest (celebrating)?
What is being over cultivated? PRUNE: What needs to be pruned or weeded out (let go of)? What needs to be placed?

Discipleship Mutual Ministry Review (PDF)

The New Testament shows us that discipleship happened by people being introduced to Jesus, living with him and coming to know him, and then being sent out to serve. This process of "come and see, come to know and come to serve Jesus" is the Christian journey that is encouraged through church communities. Passionate Christian congregations are focused primarily on helping people meet, know and serve Jesus. The most alive congregations focus continually on becoming disciples and growing into the body of Christ. A discipleship mutual ministry review considers how effective the church community is at becoming disciples who help Jesus make new and stronger disciples.

This model considers various steps of a Christian journey in community and considers whether those steps are available and strong, whether there are adequate entry points to each step and good relationships to encourage each person to take the next step on his or her spiritual journey. A sample diagram of some steps of the journey in community helps:

This is only a mechanical process unless it is focused on loving God and loving one another (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27) and bringing others to Jesus (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Acts 1:8). The most important parts of this diagram are the arrows, which represent how we stay relationally connected and make handoffs among people and groups. "Let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds [and encourage] one another" (Hebrews 10:24-25).

Creating a Plan

A Mutual Ministry Review will have little effect unless it is made into a Mutual Ministry Plan, with goals and action plans that are communicated with the congregation and reviewed regularly. The retreat/workshop outlines from this website may assist in plan development.

Following Up

The church governing board can review how it's doing with its Mutual Ministry Plan and review its leadership roles during a Leadership Roles retreat.

Additional Resources

A complete manual for a Mutual Ministry Review process is available from the Fresh Start program in an Adobe Acrobat format.

(Please note that you will need to have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed on your computer to download and view these articles. If you do not have this program installed, click here to download it free of charge.)

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