Our Leadership Team is in the process of revising our church mission statement. But I know what you’re thinking. Hasn’t Jesus given his people a great co-mission?
Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’
(Matthew 28:18-20 NIV2011)
Surely that tells the followers of Jesus what they are supposed to be doing? Well, yes. Followers of Jesus are supposed to be obeying everything Jesus commanded, and going into all the world to help other people become disciples who learn and do everything Jesus has commanded. Mission statements are not essential.
But I think it is really useful for Christian organisations, and also individual Christians, to have mission statements, for two reasons.
Firstly, it is really encouraging to have a clear idea of where we fit into the big mission. We are not all the same, and so we play different roles and make different contributions.
There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
(1 Corinthians 12:4-6 NIV2011)
The most important thing about this is to know it’s true. Different kinds of gifts, service, and working do not mean that different people are more or less important in God’s family business. Rather we are like different parts of a body. Every part needs every other part!
Now if the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.
(1 Corinthians 12:15-20 NIV2011)
Nevertheless, it’s good to think about what part we can play and want to be the most effective parts we can be.
Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.
(1 Corinthians 12:27-31a)
Secondly, and more importantly, we need to keep deliberately focusing on the right thing! Writing a mission statement in our own words is a good tool for helping us do this. Although Jesus’s great comission doesn’t change, we have a tendency to drift away from it. We can easily get busy doing other good things rather than focusing on the best thing. Why does that happen?
And yet I will show you the most excellent way. If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
(1 Corinthians 12:31b-13:3 NIV2011)
God’s work in the world is all about love. And serving that work is all about love. But love is hard. In fact, if we were left to our own devices, that would not be the direction we would be going. But praise God he has loved us to save us back into growing in being loving.
This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
( 1 John 4:10-12 NIV2011)