Mission matters. But Jesus matters more. Last summer, I sat down with the Deacons at Oak Forest Retreat Center and we spent 3 hours discussing goals and vision for the coming year. The big question we put before ourselves was this: why does our church exist? The answer to that question will determine the entire course of our church, from what size bulletins to print to what songs to sing on a Sunday morning, to how we design a budget. Within the normal routine of church life, the most important question can be overlooked: why are we doing this? So in attempt to answer the question, we decided to give it a longer look.
That first meeting kicked off several more meetings with the Executive Board and children’s teachers and passionate church members. After about 6 months of talking and praying, the finished product was a brand new mission statement that we hope gets at the heart of what we do and believe here at East Balsam. “We exist to lead people into a growing relationship with God through Jesus Christ.” I think this gets at the guts of our church, the heart beat that motivates and moves us. We want all people to experience the life transforming power of the gospel. We believe that all people are sinners and that all people need a Savior and that grace is offered freely by the risen Jesus. We want to be a church that offers people the pure, simple, understandable gospel of Jesus Christ and a genuine community in which they can grow. No one is perfect and our goal is to tell an imperfect world that there is a perfect God Who loves you in spite of your imperfection.
So with the mission established, the next question is how in the world are we going to do the mission! It’s one thing to want to build a house. It’s another thing to get a plan for how you’re going to do it. So these are the 4 ways in which we want to accomplish the mission. The first one is through Preaching and Teaching the Word. The Word of God is the guide by which we live and the source of knowledge about Who God is. Through the preaching of the Word people are saved and saved people are brought into greater maturity. So we place a high value on the Word being proclaimed and taught week after week. The second way is through Worship and Prayer. Being saved by Jesus leads us into daily fellowship with God through worship and prayer. And robust worship and prayer are vitally important to the health and vibrancy of the church. We want to be a church that prays and worships well.
The third way is through Relational Connection. The gospel does not just offer people a relationship with God (which is crucial!). It also offers people a relationship with other believers. No one is healthy when living in isolation. So we want to be a place where people can connect with other people in an honest and safe environment. And the fourth way is through Local and Global Outreach. Outreach is not simply writing a check to “superhero” missionaries to go spread the gospel. Outreach is the responsibility of every believer to open up the home, pray for and get to know unsaved friends and neighbors. Because God reached out from His “home” in heaven, we also want to reach out of our homes with the gospel of grace.
So lets go back to the beginning. Mission matters. But Jesus matters more. Our mission is important. But it isn’t everything. Jesus is everything. And our pursuit of His mission for us can only be empowered by the great Missionary Himself. So let’s trust Him and lean on Him for all the strength we need in 2015 and beyond.
Eager to lead and be led in 2015,