Congregations often spend valuable time creating Mission Statements. My hunch is that – if you asked members to recite the Mission Statement of your church – 99% of them could not do it. Most likely your mission is unclear to those who are supposed to be living by it.
On this lovely Friday, I propose that we toss our Mission Statements and have – instead – a Mission Question. My favorite is:
Did Jesus die for this?
This question changes everything – at least in terms of our business meetings -because Jesus didn’t die for most of the things we talk about: policies, programs, paint colors.
Jesus did die for: opioid addicts, the migrants at our southern border, the homeless people living under a nearby bridge, the lonely retirees who can’t get to worship anymore, the terrified kid who realizes they are trans, the unemployed banker who is too ashamed to come to church anymore, the couple trying to adopt a child, the depressed college student, the single parent, the refugee family, you, me.
A Mission Question clarifies why we exist as a church. Some Mission Questions might in fact be:
- How can we get new members?
- How can we bolster our denomination?
- How can we perpetuate our heritage?
- How can we put a new roof on the building?
Actually though, Jesus didn’t die for any of these things: membership, denominations, heritage, buildings. And yet, we spend most of our efforts on such things.
The thriving congregations I know are aware that Jesus died for people and so people are their focus.
Jesus doesn’t care whether we serve donuts or bagels at the elder breakfast but I’ve been to meetings where this question has been debated for more than five minutes. Jesus doesn’t care if we allow coffee in the sanctuary or not although I’ve know parishioners who left a church over this issue..
Jesus doesn’t care if we tie back the curtains in the parlor or not. Jesus doesn’t care if we paint the fellowship hall yellow or blue. Jesus doesn’t care what size windows we install in the kitchen.
Jesus does care that we use our buildings as tools for ministry to serve the people God loves.
Jesus does care that we welcome all those whom God created.
Jesus does care that we grapple with issues of justice and compassion.
If you could identify the question that determines all decisions your church makes, what would that question be?
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