The purpose of this series is to help us understand some necessary components of having a healthy church.* As I have mentioned thus far, in no way, do I wish to neglect the importance of the Holy Spirit, and each aspect of this series should be biblically-based, in every possible manner. Additionally, many organizations cover these items in various ways, and more thoroughly, but my goal is to add voice to this process and provide another bit of clarity to the needs for some of the more overlooked parts of being healthy as a church.
*Because of this purpose, this series is meant for those who are truly followers of Christ. Anyone may benefit from the ideas in this series, but the distinction should be understood.
So, for the last couple of weeks, I have touched upon the idea of having a personal vision and a personal mission statement. Hopefully, many of you have taken the time to start considering what your statements might be. Others may still be skeptical of their worth. For instance, many people believe that mission statements are a business idea that was re-imagined in the 1980s. I get it. My undergrad was in Business Administration, so I am aware of why and how these statements are important. Businesses should have mission statements that guide them and slogans to capture the focus of their employees and the attention of their customers. And, perhaps my background in business gives me a predisposition towards thinking that a church needs one too. BUT…
Just because I believe that personal and business statements are important, I do not project that idea on my church or the Church without a biblical rationale. The Bible is replete with examples of these types of statements. For the sake of room, let me just offer a couple. You may think of other examples, even from the same people, but at a minimum, these verses suggest a definitive purpose for life (and ministry). Jesus said that He came to proclaim the Kingdom of God (Matthew 4.17), to seek and save the lost (Luke 19.10), and to serve not to be served – and ultimately to give His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10.45). Paul said that he proclaimed Jesus to make everyone complete using all the energy that God would provide (Colossians 1.28-29). Again these statements (among many others) are definitive in their purpose and thus could be considered mission statements.
In fact, as we think about the mission of THE CHURCH, we can see the changed emphasis of Jesus’ mission from His life on earth to His life after death. Of course, He came to be a ransom for many by giving of His life. And during that life, He did serve and looked for the lost – but these two parts of His mission are now being fulfilled by His Church – which He promised to build. Thus, Jesus’ mission now includes building His Church.
Therefore, one reason for us to have and know our mission as individuals is because those who are part of the Body of Christ (i.e the Church) have a greater mission. That is, the Church has a mission and we should know our place within that mission. The mission of the Church can be summarized by in Jesus’ words which make up the Great ComMISSION – we are to multiply, to make disciples of Jesus. And we do that, in part, by fulfilling the Great Commandment – loving God and loving others in, and through, the process.
Thus, as I mentioned in last week’s post, our mission must include others. As part of the Body of Christ, we are one part among many. Our part is important to ensure that the rest of the Body can function properly. And our part is important because as people die and are removed from the Body, new people need to be added. This process is all a part of the reason we are to make disciples, not just converts. Every part of the human body has a function even if we may not know what it is or understand the function correctly. God made the body and our God has a purpose for everything so each part does a purpose!
What is true for the human body is true for the Body of Christ as well. Thus, if we equate members of Christ’s body to the human body, some of us are stomachs, and some are thumbs, and others are teeth, and elbows, etc. And an elbow has a very different function (mission) than a tooth, but if we did not have thumbs and elbows our stomach would suffer. Why? Because our thumb allows us to hold a fork which can reach our teeth when we bend our elbows. And after the food is swallowed, it reaches our stomach so we can have the nourishment we need.
I realize this post may be overkill, but it is important to understand that understanding our individual purpose is most helpful towards helping us achieve the greater purpose God has for us in the context of His Church. However, if you do not yet know your purpose, let me provide a word of warning – not knowing your mission is not an excuse to not serve.
Simply stated, we (all who claim to follow Christ) must serve. We must love. It is how we are to live. We will not live, serve, or love perfectly, but that is why Jesus’ mission had to include His death.
With a more solid foundation for mission (and vision) statements now in place, next week, I will speak further to the mission of the Church and how that should impact the mission of the local church.
In the meantime, if you have not begun to consider your own vision statement or mission statement, you have another week to do so. Please take time to review the two previous posts on this site if you need some guidance or further understanding on either type of statement (or want to know – or have a reminder – why I make a distinction between the two types of statements.