Churches and church leaders committed to becoming missional must build on five principles. The first, modeling the Christian faith, was covered in a previous post. The second pillar of the missional church is, probably unsurprisingly, embracing the church’s mission.
The creation of mission statements really came into its own a couple of decades ago. Since then, I’ve watched churches implode, explode, and go to war with themselves as they do battle to get the right words into their mission statements. In the end, many churches have adopted mission statements that are compromises between one faction and another. These statements are wordy at best and insipid at worst. In the end, the mission statement either gets relegated to the front cover of the weekly bulletin or it ends up tucked away in a file folder at the back of some battleship-grey filing cabinet.
The best mission statements are those that fit on a t-shirt or a bumper sticker. And since Jesus already outlined the basic purpose of the Church in Matthew, most effective mission statements can be summed up in two words: “Make disciples.” Of course, churches generally massage that to make it culturally relative, the core of the church’s work is just that. Here are a couple of excellent mission statements:
- Disciples Making Disciples
- Helping People Say “Yes” to Jesus
- Reaching, Teaching, and Sending in Jesus’ Name
Each of these statements is short enough to be memorable, which is a key to a congregation’s mission alignment.
And that, is the hard part – helping the church get missionally aligned. Most churches are being pulled in multiple directions, and when the body of Christ is unsure of where it’s going, it ends up going nowhere. Getting clear about the direction the church is going is the core of the second step to flipping a church.
Mission alignment is synonymous with focus. It means that the church focuses its energy on its mission, above anything else. In fact, if an event, activity, budget line item, or staff position doesn’t further the mission, then the church has to ruthlessly let it go. This creates a bit of chaos for most established churches as some beloved programs and congregational traditions will end up going by the wayside. For instance, an in-house ice cream social that is getting together for the sake of getting together may have to come off the calendar as a sponsored church event. Sure, it’s fun getting together, but unless there’s some intentional discipleship going on, it’s antithetical to the mission. Indeed, everything the church does must be run through the missional filter. If it doesn’t further the mission, it doesn’t get onto the church’s calendar.
Although being ruthless in this may seem harsh, the fact is that virtually every declining church transgresses this point. Churches that are growing almost always have this point down to a science. In fact, in growing churches, when I ask a member what the church’s mission statement is, or what the church is trying to accomplish, they almost always get it right. When the body of Christ knows where it’s going, it seems to have no trouble getting there.
Question: What is your church’s mission statement? How do you ensure that everything that goes on in your church aligns with that statement? Share your thoughts and ideas in the Comments section below.