Interview: ‘Made to Flourish’ Seeks to Help Churches Promote Spiritual, Social and Economic Flourishing

By Published on March 7, 2020

Dr. Charlie Self is Director of Learning Communities for the Made to Flourish network. The Stream interviewed him several weeks ago on hopeful signs of revival in our country. Today he shares more on Made to Flourish, and the three “flourishings” it hopes to help enable across America: pastors, churches, and communities. The following is his answer to the one Stream question, “Please tell us about Made to Flourish.”

The mission of Made to Flourish is to empower a growing network of pastors and their churches to integrate faith, work and economic wisdom for the flourishing of our communities. There are three flourishings at the heart of our mission.

We desire to see flourishing pastors lead with integrity of heart and skillful hands.

We desire local churches to flourish as they integrate their worship services, pastoral practices, discipleship efforts, and mission/outreach programs. The goal of is to empower all of God’s people to be on mission in all that they do.

We believe that healthy pastors and churches would naturally be thinking about how to see spiritual, social, and economic change in their community.

And the fruit of this is flourishing communities where local churches, through the commissioning of their members, creative initiatives and collaborative efforts, see spiritual, social and economic flourishing.

We are part of a larger world of faith and work. It’s so heartening to see that work growing in the last half century, especially in the last 20 years, to include all cultures and economic classes. It’s very encouraging to see lots of organizations, communities and people, working to connect Sunday faith with Monday work.

Our part of that is focused on pastors and local churches. We bring together non-pastors for mutual learning, too, so we’re not restricted to pastors. But we really believe the local church is plan A in God’s work in the world. And the pastors have an important part to play.

Three Flourishings

So we have three “flourishings” that we focus on. One is the flourishing of the pastors themselves. Again, we have lots of partners, helping those pastors as persons and leaders have integrity of heart and skillful hands, as the palmist said about King David.

Second, we focus on the flourishing of churches helping the internal culture, unity, and sense of purpose that a church needs in order to flourish. We hope to guide churches to orient all areas of ministry toward the Great Commission. We want them especially to see that daily work is the primary platform where God’s people live out the mission of God each and every day. That includes weekend or weekly worship, discipleship, pastoral practices, and various areas in church outreach and missions. Pastors and leaders can create the language and biblical vision for people to glorify God in all of life.

And then third, we care about the flourishing of communities. We’re just one part of that. But we believe that healthy pastors and churches would naturally be thinking about how to see spiritual, social, and economic change in their community. And then they’d partner with others to do that.

City Networks and Organic Impact

We love to speak of organic mission, which is commissioning every member for impact wherever she or he happens to be. Each church does have a unique field to plow, which includes creative initiatives. But no one can do it alone. We need to be working with other churches and other agencies to actually see neighborhoods and communities changed.

Made to Flourish does its part primarily through city networks. We resource two or more local pastors to convene leaders for gatherings where they can to grow in learning both theological foundations and practical applications. So we promote ideas, resources and relationships that help grow a sustainable network.

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Our groups meet at least 4 to 6 times a year, and often more often than that. We’re not creating brick and mortar, and we’re not creating career paths. Instead we’re finding those key leaders we can resource. Then we’re helping them be generous and hospitable in making city networks available.

Resources for Pastors and Leaders

And then from the larger level, we curate and create resources so that both pastors and congregational leaders can continue to grow in this. So if you go to our website, you’ll find numerous articles book recommendations, short video presentations. Our Common Good magazine recently won several awards for his quality and breadth of content. So we’re thrilled about that. It’s a very new venture. We are excited about new resources for youth ministers and recent college grads as well.

One Part of the Foundation for a Coming Awakening

Made to Flourish is one part of what I am humbly convinced is a real foundation for the coming awakening, both in America and in other parts of the world. Because the coming awakening isn’t a bonfire in a church service alone. Those are wonderful. But it’s really millions of brushfires as commissioned, empowered women and men understand that their work matters, whether that’s at home or at the office, the field or factory, labor or leadership. They really know what matters, and that they are walking as Great Commission Christians.

Pastors Have a Special Responsibility

And what else is exciting to us is to helping live a seamless life between Sunday and Monday. Tom Nelson, our president, is senior pastor of Christ Community Church in the Kansas City area, a multi-site church. Several years ago, he became aware that he was, in a sense, guilty of pastoral malpractice.

He wasn’t guilty of any moral malfeasance; I don’t mean that. Rather, he said, “I am spending the majority of my time equipping believers for how they spend the minority of their time.” So he and his team, and others are going through this in other parts of the country, went back to the Scriptures and realized that when you look at the whole narrative of scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, and you really see God’s purpose, and part of being fully human includes meaningful work.

God’s purpose included meaningful work before the Fall. It will still include embodied, meaningful work after the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. And so, he began a journey with his church. He found out were many others on this journey as well. The goal is not arrogance or triumphalism or reifying some old version of Christendom but making disciples for all of life.

That’s a little bit of the heartbeat behind it. It is really a delight for me to work for Made to Flourish and partner with other organizations that are doing like-minded things.

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