This stage is designed to help the church to explore the purpose and character of the church God is calling them to be. This might also be called the vocation of the church.
This stage may be omitted from the lifecycle if the church is moving straight from a previous cycle of the MAP process into a new one and the church is still confident of the answers to the questions contained in it. However, it should always be included when MAP is new or unfamiliar, or where a church needs to re-address the questions contained in it.
The church will explore two key questions that will help them to understand and support the changes that the MAP process brings by showing why they are necessary. These questions are not concerned with the activities of the church. Consequently, they can lead to frustration because ‘we’re just talking and not doing’. However, a good understanding throughout the church of the answers to these questions is vital. It is central to deciding the priorities of the church’s activities and in helping them to understand the reason for the changes that are to come. This exploration may require a significant change in hearts and minds, which always takes time.
Rushing beyond this stage before it is completed will often lead to failure and disillusionment, making the MAP process ineffective and any future work in this area much harder. It is important to allow plenty of time for this stage, enabling the church to reflect and to come to their own understanding, rather than just having the answers presented.
These questions can be explored through the creative use of Scripture in a combination of the following, or by other means appropriate to the church:
- times of prayer and reflection
- church away days, weekends or other events
- Sunday preaching
- small group work