The Narrative Questions… love ‘em, hate ‘em, don’t like ‘em, don’t get ‘em, don’t know ‘em…Over the years of ECO’s existence, I think I’ve heard it all. I get it. The Narrative Questions on Mission and Ministry - even the name is long and a challenge! These ten questions were pulled from our Presbyterian history and are intended to invite the Session of a church to give a qualitative assessment of what God is doing in their midst and context. Those answers are then shared together in a Mission Affinity Group meeting. In a sense, the Narrative Questions provide an opportunity for an annual Examen – a way for us to be aware where God has been active and at work in the overall ministries of a church. They then provide a basis for Sessions to encourage and hold one another accountable to be flourishing churches that make disciples of Jesus Christ.
I love our ECO polity for many reasons, but one of those is the flexibility it gives us as we seek obedience to God and the way leaders are to govern a church and her life. Here’s what the polity document says about the Narrative Questions (1.0104): Mission Affinity Groups shall begin with the questions provided in the Narrative on the Health of Congregations, but may appropriately individualize those questions for their particular context. So, if the Narrative Questions are giving you angst, frustration, or simply stealing your joy, then know you have the option to rework those questions or come up with completely new ones!
On the ECO website under Mission Affinity Groups and Pastoral Covenant groups, we have a few examples of the ways the NQs have been rewritten. Let me add a few more question options here:
1. What are your church’s strengths?
2. What are your church’s weaknesses?
3. Where do we want our church to grow?
Or, the Presbytery of the Upper Midwest used these questions at its presbytery meeting to spur discussion in MAG groups:
1. Name one or two examples of your congregation “flourishing” in 2017 as it was accomplishing ECO’s mission of “making disciples of Jesus Christ.”
2. Name one or two moments that brought you to your knees in prayer: hardships or challenges (a single event or perhaps a chronic situation) that led you to cry out to the Lord for strength and help.
3. Name one or two top priorities for your congregation as you look ahead to 2018.
So what set of questions is your Mission Affinity Group using as you meet together? Send me a copy so we can continue to grow our resource for MAGs!
Director of Mission Affinity Groups