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Feb '10

Mission for a Church

As you know, our church is going through a transition period and we are now working to redefine the mission of our church. I am really struggling with this and was hoping that I could get some ideas from you to help me out.

What I am looking for is your thoughts on what the mission of a church should be.

So far, what I’ve come up with is the following points:

  • We need to be like Jesus. All Christians would agree with this but who actually does the Action? If you truly look at what Jesus did, most churches (ours included currently) do not do this. He was mobile, never sitting in a church, always serving those who were less fortunate.
  • A church needs to be outward focused not inward focused. Churches have become country clubs in aΒ  lot of ways and even though they may have a mission ministry, that is just one ministry among many-It is not the focus of the church. Everything a church does should be focused on outreach.
  • We need to be careful to not be as focused on “results” in the sense that we are just trying to outreach to get members to fill our pews. We should be focused on serving others. People will naturally be drawn to that and want to be a part of our church.

So, what I need now is your thoughts on this. Also, any ideas you have for a brief mission statement. It can be as simple as “Our church serves to serve others” or something like that.

What do you think the mission of a church should be?


5 comments to “Mission for a Church”

  1. Julie Says:

    Yay! I love it!

    “Our church exists to foster a sense of the Christian spirit within our congregation in order to be constantly focused on serving others and walking in Jesus’ footsteps”

    If I don’t just sit down and write out something, I’ll think about it too much and never come up with anything. So that is what I think off the top of my head. While talking with Marie over the weekend, I asked her how the Interfaith Hospitality Network was going, and she said it was doing really well. They had just hired a guy to help expand the network, and they were finally able to get two more churches in the network. Marie noted she didn’t really like the method of the guy they hired, he was way to used-car-salesman-like, but he did have one really good point, which ended up getting one church to join. When they first approached the church they had said, no we just don’t have enough time for that right now, we have so many different things going on, bible studies and such. And the guy said, “well don’t you think it would be great if your bible study could, for one time a month, put the things they are learning in the bible study to action and help these needy families?” Bam. Got the guy and they ended up agreeing to join. πŸ™‚ But I think this shows there needs to be a good balance of focus on the congregation thru bible studies and such, and then a chance to put that into action with different outreach programs. And I also think that your three points are right on. Especially the third one- if people start thinking of new visitors as notches in their “bible belts,” then you lose the human side of things and it can get ugly. It seemed like you guys were going in a good direction with the outreach plan you were working towards, but maybe that got lost in the implementation? One more random thought. If you are going to get a new building, and will be building it, it would be so cool if you could all be a part of building it- what a way for people to really feel connected to their church. And then you could all be a dynamic unstoppable habitat for humanity team! But I may just be really overexcited about building…. πŸ™‚ I’ll go back to my city planning now.. πŸ™‚

    I’m excited for more discussion!

  2. asebesta Says:

    That’s a great mission statement Julie. I’m going to take it with me to my meeting.
    I really like your story from Marie. It is soo true and so prevalent in churches today.
    “We are too busy doing church things to do ministry.” We just get wrapped up in the traditions and extra things that we lose sight of a church’s true mission.

    We are still doing the Service implementation and that will be the focus of our ministry but we need to get the mission statement down so we know why we’re serving. One thing I’m struggling with right now is that yes we want to serve and we have lots of willing bodies but what is our purpose for serving? Are we hoping to bring more people to church with our service? Are we training ourselves to do good works? Or are we serving because that’s what we’re called to do? Right now, we have a program where we go and Meet and Greet the Troops at the airport as they come home. What is the purpose of it? I really feel it is important to do, but why? I don’t have an answer for that. I think that it goes back to your mission statement–Jesus would be there cheering people on and doing all these things to help people so maybe that’s enough of a reason for us to be there.

    And, then the question that always comes up: “Are we doing it for ourselves or for others?” It reminds me of Phoebe trying to do an unselfish act and she can’t do it and she ends up getting stung by a bee so that the bee can show all his bee-buddies how tough he is. Then someone reminds her that the bee dies when he stings. I always feel so great after I volunteer but then I feel guilty for feeling good. What do you think? How to we manage that as a church so we don’t get caught up in making ourselves “look good”?

  3. John Sebesta Says:

    Howdy All,

    Abby – First of all I am very proud of you for all your work and thoughtful consideration on what is right for the church. You are a huge asset and a voice of good reason that is all too often ignored.

    I certainly like your points and think you are right on track. A few months ago I had the opportunity to talk to Phil Smith, one of the authors of A Billion Bootstraps and The Poor Will Be Glad and we got talking about the role of churches. He suggested that churches and Christians in general should be in the business of creating dicipiles. The idea is that each time you help someone develop a true relationship with the Lord they will be a lifelong Christian and probably bring a few others to Christ along the way.

    Still you have the question of how to create diciples. Here I think you get back to serving others just like you said. In this I think you pursue things that don’t directly result in more members so that people don’t question your motives and want to join because of the pure nature of the giving. You shouldn’t feel bad about feeling good after giving, that is part of what Christ wants. Finding joy in it helps people keep giving which is important.

    Ultimately I haven’t answered any questions, but I agree it must be focused on outreach and serving people outside the church. Clearly the church must have solid internal programs that follow good doctrine. I don’t think the service has to be focused on those nearby while this is certainly an option, you can find people that share your passion about serving others who are far away. The service needs to align with what the meembers of hte church are good at and passionate about. Finding peoples passions then providing opportunities for them to meet others outside the church who share the passions.

    Anyway…back to paying attention in class. Sorry for rambling as I drop in and out of paying attention in class.

  4. asebesta Says:

    Hey John,
    Thanks for your comments. I would like to hear more about your talk with Phil Smith as that sounds right up my alley.
    I really liked your thoughts on serving being a means of building relationships. I think that is key and probably why I get a bit frustrated with some evangelism techniques that ignore the importance of relationships. And, it goes back to Actions speaking louder than words. If we are willing to spend the time to create those relationships, then people do not question our motives as much because we have a relationship with them and they come to trust and respect us.

  5. Julie Says:

    β€’ Why we serve
    β—‹ Training ourselves to do good works
    β—‹ Hoping to bring more people to church
    β—‹ b/c that’s what we’re called to do
    β—‹ Purpose of meeting troops at the airport?
    β—‹ Just b/c Jesus would have done it?
    β—‹ Doing it for ourselves or for others? – guilty feeling after doing good
    β—‹ How not get caught up in making ourselves look good?

    OK, I have struggled with the above issues as well. I decided that looking at Jesus’ teachings can help find the answer, so I’ve been looking at some of the parables.
    Some notable ones: (quoted from Wikipedia)
    β—‹ Parable of the talents: Much had been entrusted to them: the Word of God; but like the servants in the parable, they would shortly have to render account of how they had used that which had been committed to them.
    β—‹ The Good Samaritan: an individual of a social group they disapprove of can exhibit moral behavior that is superior to individuals of the groups they approve; it also means that not sharing the same background is no excuse to behave poorly, as there is a universal moral law and kindness should be freely given to all people

    So I think that a big part of it is that by learning about the word of God and going to church and being with a faith community, we are filled with God’s love and an understanding of God’s love, and it is bad stewardship to let this go to waste. We must share this love, and then it will continue to grow, and do what it is meant to do. Thus, as you meet troops at the airport, you change their whole homecoming, and perhaps fill their hearts with love and incite them to share this love with the next person they meet, or if you give a basket of food to someone and you see them smile, you feel good inside, but you also think that when they go home that day, they will be able to eat and also have in their hearts that good feeling that they can then share- and this is something that if they hadn’t seen you that day, perhaps they could have gone down a very different route, being hungry and frustrated makes it hard to share God’s love. So I think the main purpose has to be: to share God’s love. It can be shared and spread without having to increase your membership, and also, it isn’t doing nearly all it can by strictly remaining within the church doors, and can also get stifled and distorted by remaining there.

    I think the Good Samaritan story shows us that it is not just about sharing love, but also about being role models. We can act in the way we believe everyone should act, and share this kind of behavior and hope that others pick up on it. Because of the above reasons, we know why we should act this way, but this story shows that even when its hard, and you’re going against the norms of society, God’s law is still higher, and even if it seems like it won’t lead to any other lasting changes, we should still act in those ways. For one, God will know, and you never know what kind of an impact that can have- and two, especially on the person you help- it may change their entire outlook, and they can then also become leaders and role models. But even if it doesn’t, its still important.

    So ultimately I would say it is being good stewards of the love we are able to understand and the faith community we are privileged to be a part of. Not everyone has the chance to have such a community that is there to help them grow and build them up and help them to know and understand God’s love, and so we need to share what we gain from this in every way possible, in order for it to grow- without growing, it is wasted. I hope that helps to understand this better for you, I know for me, it’s helped, even if it is so basic!

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