Our parish recently went through a revitalization of our vision. This led to a very successful capital campaign and a unified drive within the ministries of the parish. The tagline that kept our eyes focused on the vision was that we are moving from ‘Maintenance to Mission’. This idea is amazing, but often can be interpreted as dismissive of maintenance.
A beautiful and necessary reality in ministry is maintenance. I would argue that a ministry can only move from maintenance to mission when one has fully arrived at maintenance. In a world where new ideas are sexy and startups are more intriguing than blue chip stock companies, maintenance gets a bad rap.
This topic can be deeply explored and I will merely be scratching the surface. For more, check out this podcast.
Maintenance is the secret champion of mission.
Maintenance is vital. Yes, new ideas in ministry are necessary to respond to the growing needs of those we serve, but maintenance is what builds and sustains the foundation of which the faithful can grow.
Think about the last time you had to call a repair service. It required you to hit the brakes on your day. What would happen if you never changed the oil in your car? You wouldn’t be able to go anywhere.
Maintenance is the secret champion of mission. If a program has an aspect that is not working effectively, the entire program can be dismissed instead of simply providing some needed maintenance. Or on the flip side, a program that is working well can be constantly reinvented in spite of the fact that it is working both effectively and efficiently.
I invite you to look into your own parish and ministry maintenance. Here are a few questions on maintenance for the ministries you are involved in.
- What are aspects of the ministry that can be maintained by a volunteer or group of volunteers? This aspect of delegation will free you up for maintenance of another area, or for mission focused innovation. This will also give ownership of the ministry to more people, which is vital for sustainable maintenance.
- What are the regular tasks that surround your ministry? How do each of these tasks play into the overall mission of that ministry? Do some of these aspects need a face lift? An example of this would be to take communication beyond the bulletin. Incorporate an e-newsletter, or text message updates. The maintenance of creating the communication is already being done for the bulletin, the efforts required to share that information on multiple platforms is simple and effective.
- What upkeep is needed in your ministry that may be a bit neglected? I think affirming volunteers is a great example of upkeep that is often neglected.
Once you’ve got a great system of maintenance in place, it’s time to take the next step into deeper mission. What areas or needs are being underserved in your community? What can meet those needs in a sustainable way? Once those needs are met, how can you maintain the programs meeting those needs?
So we move from maintenance, to mission and then create infrastructure for the missional endeavors to be sustained. In doing so, we move them into maintenance once again. Maintenance and mission are the two arms of a ministry with great vision.