Tuition at the Missional School of Hard Knocks

Staying on Target

In the missional environment, it is crucial to regularly evaluate what we are doing to ensure that precious resources are being focused on the mission and that activities are within our vision and purpose.  It is easy to get off course.  We all do from time to time.  But one of the most important missional disciplines is knowing when to let something go if it is not within our vision and purpose and is not bearing fruit for the Kingdom.  This discipline is often learned from hard knocks and often comes after losing money and time on something more than once.  We have come to call these expenditures “tuition” in the missional school of hard knocks.

One of our missional axioms is simply, “Some things work. And some things don’t.”  Our community’s purpose involves bringing others into the mission with us.  We invite people to serve others with us so that the people that we invite might experience the Kingdom of God in their midst and turn their lives toward a deeper participation in it.  As such, we invite people into the fund-raising opportunities that we engage in that fund our mission.  It is never about the funds, though.  It is always about the mission. And if our fund-raising isn’t something that we can responsibly invite people into, then that fund-raising isn’t within our vision and purpose no matter what the earning potential of the activity might be.

We recently had to cut ourselves loose from a fund-raiser that had really good earning potential because the environment was toxic and ran the risk of actually driving the people we invited into the mission away from the mission.  We had been manning a concessions stand at a professional sports venue and that had the potential of raising about $3,000 to $5,000 for mission.  But the management of the stand was not in our hands, and the managers were not treating our workers well.  If it was just us, we can take it as part of the cost of discipleship.  Many of us had already worked games and knew that if we walked away, we would lose what we had gained, though what we had gained wasn’t much in relation to the pain of the efforts. The thing we had to remember was that if we were inviting others into it, and they were seeing people leaving in tears and getting mad because they were treated disrespectfully (and worse), that is not representative of the Kingdom of God, does not bear fruit for the Kingdom, and is counter to our vision and purpose.  As such, we had to cut our losses, and not do the fund-raiser even though it meant we would not raise the money.  Tough choice.  Tough learning.  Steep tuition.  But tuition, nonetheless.  Some things work.  Some things don’t.   It’s just the way it is.  If it isn’t within our vision and purpose, and it doesn’t bear fruit for the Kingdom, then it is a distraction from the mission no matter how pretty and shiny it might look.


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