This is the third article in series about The Ambassador Way. This is how I have described what it means to live out our identity as called out group of believers. If we are going to make sense of what we are supposed to do, we have to intentionally move through each of these phases. Each phase helps us stay focused on the main thing for our church.
So, once you have defined your identity as a church and have articulated your vision, the next step is to embrace your mission. When you know who you are and why you exist, how you are going to live out these two realities is vitally important.
Defining Mission and Vision more clearly
It may be helpful to define what I mean by mission. A mission, your mission, answers the “how” question. In other words, how am I going to fulfill the vision and stay true to the identity God has given? Your mission is the way you determine the strategy that you or your church is going to use to make the vision a reality. If the how question is not answered, it will be extremely difficult to accomplish the vision.
Another way of thinking about the vision is to see it is the dream God has given you or your church. If you can think about vision in this way, it will frame the conversations the leaders of the church have with the congregation. This dream forces everyone to start talking about the vision based on the unifying passion of the congregation, the thing that drives the entire body in one direction. Too often, I have heard people talk about vision in lofty terms. So lofty, in fact, that no one understands why they are doing what they are being asked to do. What are you passionate about? Or, said another way, if you were to accomplish your dream, what would the world or people look like?
Every Church Reflects the Personality of their Pastor
In order to embrace the mission, every leader has to recognize and understand that their church has a distinct personality. The hard part here is understanding that this personality is initially a reflection of the top leader, usually the pastor. If we pretend that this is not the case, it will take a long time to discover the personality of the church. The pastor of a church sets the agenda and determines the priorities. This means that the pastor has a lot of influence in what is valued and why.
Now, I know that some will balk at this. And, in some cases that is a good thing. However, if the pastor started the church, then it simply makes sense that the pastor is the one keeping the vision fresh on the minds of the members and cutting a path forward on the strategy. In a more established church, this would be less the case, but not necessarily untrue the longer the pastor’s tenure.
The point here is that the church’s personality is an important piece of information in embracing the mission. If you do not know this, it will cause friction when trying to decide what to do next. People have to trust that what is being done is both consistent with the identity of the church and in the service of seeing the vision fulfilled. As more people join the pastor in the work, the more this congruency is required for success.
Let’s take a look at the reasons for teaching and promoting the need to embrace the mission of your church.
1. Your mission is YOUR mission.
While there may be other churches in the world, and even in your city or community, that have a similar emphasis for ministry, your mission is YOUR mission. It is not a competition. It is not a race to see who can do it bigger, better, faster. If the leaders of a church are not committed to the mission of their church failure is all but guaranteed.
God has called your church to fulfill a specific purpose. That purpose has been written down in a mission and vision statement. Therefore, it is crucial that the leaders in a church are focused on what they are supposed to do. If we, as church leaders, are constantly comparing our church, and what we are doing, with the other churches in our community we will not be able to lead our churches effectively. And more to the point, we will never be able to accomplish our mission.
2. God gave you the mission, so don’t quit on it.
If we are able to stop the comparison game long enough to focus on what we are supposed to do, then we have to move to the next reason for teaching and promoting the mission: God have it to you and your church!
There may not be any greater reason to constantly and consistently promoting the mission of the church than this. God has called us to a specific task. God has a reason for calling this gathering of his people to this particular community, with this particular purpose, at this particular time.
The power of this second reason for focused promotion of the mission of your local church is that is will keep your on task and keep you motivated. If the mission of the church is not from God, when circumstances change and challenges continue to grow, it will become increasingly difficult to continue. I don’t know anyone who likes to lose. But, if we are losing and we have no reason to keep fighting, that can be a serious problem for morale.
If God has given your church a mission, then you keep fighting. You fight because the mission is not about you, but God’s glory. The mission is about the Gospel and about sharing the only message that can transform a life and save a soul.
3. You will fail if you do not fully commit to the mission.
The third reason to promote and teach the mission is because failure is the result when we do not. Failure can take several forms. Stagnation. Frustration. Fear. Membership Decline. These and a host of other events can take place. However, when the mission of the church is understood and embraced by a church, it becomes more difficult to fail.
There may be setback and challenges. There may be tough lessons and even harder choices. But, in the end, when we as leaders can rally the members of a church to the mission, failure ceases to be an acceptable option.
This is the great challenge. We have to give ourselves fully to the mission of our churches. As far as I can say, if we, as the leaders, are not all in, how can we expect the people to give of themselves, dedicating their time, gifts, talents, and resources to it?
Embracing the mission of your church can be a challenge. It can be because it requires every person who joins the congregation to reflect on their own priorities. What do I value? Why? When will I have time to be a part of this mission? Do I really believe what my pastors are telling me God is calling us to?
If we cannot answer some of the questions, we may not have properly articulated the mission. People have to be able to get how they fit into the big picture in order to buy in. This takes time. It takes relationships. But, it also takes our example. We have to embrace the mission we promote if we are going to ask others to join us in accomplishing it.