In our last post we asked the question “What is our mission?” It turned out we already had the answer:
“We are a church that makes disciples – across the street and around the world.”
We ended that post with a question; “How do we do it?” I want to pause before we answer that question and take a few moments to reflect on some aspects of our mission that are important. Our mission statement describes us in three ways. It tells us who we are, what we do, and where we do it. These three things may seem obvious, maybe even trivial, but they’re important for how we go about our mission.
We Are A Church
We are a Church. You’re first response might be, “well duh,” but this is an important distinction about who we are. Too often churches and church groups have forgotten this simple fact and allowed themselves to be led off track. We are a church. We are not a social club or a community service organization, we are a church. More specifically we are a Christian church. We are a community of believers in the “good news”; believers in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the saving power of his death and resurrection. The fact that we are a church means we approach everything we do through the lens of faith, faith in the power and work of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We cannot divorce what we do in mission from our faith and who we are. That’s the reason we are missional to begin with.
We are a church. That means we the people are a church, the assembly of believers in a particular location. The church is not the building we gather in to worship. The building is merely a structure provided for our comfort in which we come together to worship and conduct certain programs and ministries. Confusing this issue runs the risk of causing the church to lose sight of not only who is involved in missions, but where and how it occurs.
We are A church. We are not the only church. This is a pretty self-evident statement given the number of churches in this town alone, but my point is we are one of many. There are many other churches out there, churches who are engaged in some form of mission. Ours is not the only one doing what we are called to do, and we will probably go about it in different ways than our brothers and sisters. Each church works individually and together to fulfill the mission Christ gave us.
That Makes Disciples
The primary purpose of our mission is to make disciples. That may seem pretty basic, but what does it mean to make a disciple, or to be a disciple? The answer to those questions could take numerous posts. But the thing I want to focus on now is who we are disciples of. Again, the answer seems pretty straightforward – Jesus Christ! But if we are honest with ourselves we’ll have to admit that sometimes churches work hard to make disciples of people other than Jesus, even if unintentionally.
“Was Paul crucified for you? Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?” (1 Cor 1:13)
We make disciples of Jesus Christ. This means we are not making disciples of Methodism, or John Wesley, or Peter or Paul, our pastor or any other person other than Christ. We may interpret Christ and what the Bible teaches us through the lenses of Methodism or Wesley or a whole host of other sources, but we do so in order to follow Christ.
Across The Street And Around The World
Notice this is a two-part deal. We cannot focus on one of these and neglect the other. When Christ spoke to the first disciples and told them to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth, he was telling them to do so across the street and around the world.
Sometimes churches think of missions as something that happen overseas in foreign lands, something not local. At other times churches tend to think too local, “why send money and resources overseas when there are plenty of people in need right here?” Both of these beliefs fail to take in the entirety of Jesus’ command. It isn’t an either/or, it’s a both/and.
So…we know our mission, we know who we are, what we do, and where we do it. Now…on to the “how?”