Having reviewed the idea of a personal vision and mission statement, and showing that a mission statement has biblical merit, it is now time to look at what the mission of the church could be.
The mission of the church must begin with Jesus. Why? Because it was Jesus who said, “I will build my church” (Matthew 16.18). The church Jesus is building is not your church or my church; it is His Church. Of course, the church Jesus is building includes churches all over the world, but then not every so-called “church” is being built by Jesus either.
What I mean is that many people gather together and may go through religious rituals or ceremonies, but they do not truly worship God or, perhaps, acknowledge Jesus. In this case, these “churches” are certainly not being built by Jesus even if the group (or someone) attaches His Name or idea (church) to a sign or the door.
But Jesus is building His Church and that includes the local church. (Before we go further, I know the church is not a building, and I am not suggesting that Jesus is building a building – although He could, He was a carpenter! But, when I say church I mean the people who make up a church.) And, if Jesus is building His Church (and thus local churches), the mission of that Church (and churches) should be in line with what Jesus has commanded His followers.
The simplest construct to understand is that we are to, in reverse order, live by the Great Commission and love per the Great Commandment. The Great Commandment is to love God and love others (Mark 12.29-31). Of course, many people claim to love Jesus, but Jesus said that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments (John 14.15). Thus, love is more than an expression of words or a fondness of heart; rather, love is obedience. And, for those who follow Jesus, one of the ways we express our obedience is by carrying out the Great Commission (Matthew 28.18-20).
The Great Commission commands His followers (then, and now) to make disciples. We are to make disciples by going, by teaching them to observe all that He commanded (remember, obeying the commands is how He says we show our love), and baptizing these disciples in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. That is, we baptize them into the fullness of God.
If we look closely, we see the Great Commandment contained within the Great Commission. If we love God, we will make disciples (which, again, is an act of obedience and, therefore, is an expression of love). But in order to make disciples we are required to love others. Why? Well, going can be a challenge. It takes time, money, and a willingness to give of yourself over time. Remember, Jesus said to teach others to observe all that He commanded. Teaching all that He commanded takes time! Teaching others to know how to keep the commands consistently takes TIME! So, to invest that kind of time requires love for other people. And thus, as I mentioned above, the Great Commandment and the Great Commission are very much intertwined.
Now, for clarity’s sake, we must realize that Jesus is building the church. His church is constantly being built. On the one hand that means it is expanding. On the other hand that means that those who are currently part of the Church are still being built too. I am not perfect. I still need to be built. I am not excused from loving or making disciples just because I am not perfect, but what I have found is that even as I make disciples I learn from the people that I am serving. What a great concept that is! What a glorious God I serve!
So, what is the mission of the church? Again, it must be a part of what Jesus has given her to do. And, in the simplest of terms, that task involves love (for God and others) and being partners in building the church with Him (making disciples). Practically, these two ideas can take many forms, and thus, each church may have a unique mission statement that captures how they will love and build with Jesus. But, as for THE CHURCH, the mission begins and ends with the Great Commandment and the Great Commission. Everything else is simply a part in how to execute those two principles.
Next week, I will break down how a local church might define her own mission. Until then, begin to consider how your personal mission (and vision) interacts with the mission Jesus gave to His Church.