I heard about a bunch of LCMS students the other day discussing some terms which have become common lingo in certain quarters of our synod. The phrases are "Mission Outpost" and "Maintenance Station".
I don't know where these terms come from, but they are embraced by many in the LCMS today even though they present a false alternative. The idea is this - that every church should think of itself as less a "Maintenance Station" and more of a "Mission Outpost". That "Maintenance Stations" are dead, cold, boring, dying, stodgy, traditional types of congregations, while "Mission Outposts" are growing, thriving, innovative, contemporary, responsive, loving, and just about every other complimentary adjective to boot.
At one of our pastors' circuit meetings last year we were asked to rate our own congregations on a "scale of one to ten", with "Maintenance Station" being 1, of course, and "Mission Outpost" being 10. Subtle, huh?
My problem is not with the terms, per se, but with the false alternative they present. It's a simple flaw of logic that a congregation can't be concerned both about "maintaining" and also about "mission". In fact it works best, I believe, when a congregation does BOTH. When they are concerned about BOTH.
I contend that a church CANNOT be a "mission outpost" WITHOUT being also a "maintenance station". The two are inseparable. If we don't "maintain" (our own members, the Gospel, our doctrine), then what are we offering when we "do missions"? If we only seek to "maintain" (well, I don't know of any congregation that purposely eschews missions), then how are we actually being faithful to the Christ who calls us to share the Gospel?
A very similar false alternative is suggested by a certain group who dubs some in the LCMS as "missionaries" and some as "guardians" (though if I recall, that distinction was a little kinder to the "guardians").
Other dubious terms are the phrases, "mission-minded" or "having a heart for mission". I find this kind of thing is often used to contrast some who think of themselves as "more mission-minded than that other guy".
I think the best term to encompass all of this - maintenance and mission, guarding and reaching out, mission-mindedness and doctrinally-sound - the best term is simply "faithful". Is your church faithful? Is your pastor faithful? If they are, and if he is, everything else falls into place.
Of course none of us is perfectly faithful. Yet we live under the Gospel. But I think you get my drift here.