Last night Norma Jean and I attended the mid-week Bible Study service at the Downers Grove church in suburban Chicago where my friend and former college classmate Steve Wolfgang preaches. After being out of the country for 25 days, it was good to be “home.”
Steve’s class focused on the mission of the church. As an assignment, he had asked the class to write a “mission statement” either collectively or individually. As someone who has worked with churches through the years in developing Biblical mission statements, I was interested in hearing what the class had to say.
As I listened to the collective responses, some basic themes came to the surface that I summarized in 5 words.
(1) Evangelism. Most agreed that we should share our faith as we have the opportunity. Since the church is the pillar and ground of the Truth (1 Tim. 3:15), it follows that our collective efforts should spread Christ’s message of life and light to a lost and dying world. While not all Christians are called to be public proclaimers as preachers, we each need to be ready to provide a defense for our faith and hope (1 Pet. 3:5).
(2) Worship. A reoccurring response was the importance and value of attending worship services. The English word “church” is actually “assembly.” It is from the Greek word ekklesia. And means “the called out of.” Those called out of the world, (Col. 1:12-13; 2 Thess 2:13) are called to come together to primarily praise God and also to edify one another. (Ax 2:47).
(3) Fellowship. Called out people who come together enjoy a unique fellowship that is formed and forged in our relationship with Jesus Christ. The numerous “one another” exhortations speak to the bond that binds us together. Truly mission-minded Christians seek to encourage one another. Edify one another. Care and comfort one another. And, of course, really love one another.
(4) Discipleship. A disciple is a follower. A pupil. An adherent of another. Jesus is our Master Teacher. And we’re to be the transformed followers who are conformed to His image (Rom. 8:29) It is a lifetime mission of learning. Growing. And becoming. While knowledge of Christ through His revealed Word is the basis, it is also imperative that we really come to know Jesus in a personal way.
(5) Ministry. We have been saved to serve (Eph. 2:10). Created in Christ “to do good works.” Our service to others may be engaged collectively in some cases, but more often than not it is the individual efforts of Christians whose mission is “to do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers” (Gal. 6:10). Preachers and pastors must work together to equip the saints to minister according to their special gifts (Eph. 4:11-12; I Pet 4:10).
After considerable discussion, Steve correctly observed that too many churches today have abandoned the mission of the church to engage in activities that fail to follow the Bible pattern. And for which they are often ill-equipped to effectively execute. Activities that are better suited for private enterprise, local governments or qualified charitable organizations. But not the collective mission of God’s spiritual family.
As I listened to the discussion it occurred to me that these 5 areas, were exactly the conclusions we had reached in other congregations. How can that be? Because we are following the same Book and respecting the authority of the written Word. In fact, these goals are the same as Jerusalem church in the first century (Ax 2:42-47).
What is the mission of the church you attend? And more pointedly what is your mission? Why on earth are you here? What is your purpose?
Mission is at the heart of who we are, what we are doing, and where we are going.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman