Summary: Let me ask you a question this morning? What drives you? What gets your heart pumping, your mind churning and your hands and feet working? Everybody has something which drives them in their lives. Just as all of us have something in our lives which drive
Phil. 3:13, Revelation 17:17
Let me ask you a question this morning? What drives you? What gets your heart pumping, your mind churning and your hands and feet working? Everybody has something which drives them in their lives. For some it’s their kids, for others it’s their work, for others it may be a hobby like sewing, quilting, painting, golf, hunting or fishing. It might be a cause, a mission or even a ministry. Just as all of us have something in our lives which drive us, the same is true of churches. Every church is driven by something. There is a guiding force, a controlling assumption, a directing conviction or a consuming passion behind everything that happens. It may be unspoken. It may be unknown to many people in the church. Most likely, it’s never been voted on. But it’s there, influencing every aspect of a church’s life.
Some churches are driven by tradition. In those churches the favorite phrase is, “We’ve always done it this way.” Change is seen as negative and sameness is seen as stability. Other churches are driven by personality. In smaller churches, it might be an influential layperson who is the matriarch or patriarch of the church. In larger churches, it might be the charismatic personality of the pastor. Still other churches are driven by finances. The bottom line of every decision is how much does it cost. You often hear in these churches, I remember when we had to choose between paying the pastor or the light bill. Some churches are driven by their buildings and keeping them functioning on one end of the spectrum to pristine on the other. Other churches are driven by programs like Sunday School, the UMW, the choir or the youth program, to name a few. All of the resources are used to maintain and sustain the program of the church.
Yet Jesus didn’t create the church to be driven by any of these. He created the church to be driven by its sole purpose and mission. What’s needed today more than anything else is churches that are driven by purpose instead of by other forces. Strong and effective churches are built on purpose. Plans, personalities and programs don’t last but God’s purposes will last. Nothing precedes purpose. In fact, the foundational question for every church is, “Why do we exist?” Until you know what your church exists for, you have no foundation, no motivation and no direction in your ministry. Growing and effective churches who are making a kingdom difference have a clear cut identity and purpose. They understand their reason for being.
Rick warren states there are five benefits of having a clearly defined purpose or mission. First is that it builds morale. A clearly defined mission enables people to work together for the church’s purpose and avoid arguing over trivial issues. People get excited about working together for a great purpose. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18 And where there is no vision, the people leave for another parish! Second, a clear purpose reduces frustration. God gives “perfect peace to those who keep their purpose firm and put their trust in him.” Is. 26:3 A clear purpose not only defines what we are to do but also what we are not to do. The secret of effectiveness is to know what really accounts, do it and then avoid everything else. It also allows decision making to be much easier and far less frustrating. Third, a clear purpose allows concentration. Paul knew the power of a clear purpose when he said, “I am bringing all my energies on this one thing, forgetting what is behind and looking forward to what lies ahead.” Phil. 3:13 A clear purpose allows you to concentrate all a church’s resources and thus have a greater impact. Too many churches are majoring in the minors and not focusing on the main thing. That diverts time, people and money from the most important thing in the life of a church: its purpose. Fourth, a clear purpose encourages cooperation. It gets people behind the purpose and enlists them to work together as a team. For we will get far more done working together than working alone. Lastly, a clear purpose assists evaluation. It allows you to answer the question, “Are we doing what God intended us to do?” and “How well are we doing it?”
Keith Getty, who wrote the hymn “In Christ Alone” says there are three signs of the church on decline. The church becomes decreasingly knowledgeable of God. The church becomes increasing obsessed with itself and the church views every part of the spiritual walk for what they can get out of it. Our first value, to be mission driven, says profoundly that we will know God and His will for us and our life together will be about others and what we will give back to God. That’s what “Connecting diverse communities to a lifestyle devoted to Jesus”, is all about. Living Mission is valued by us because we live to fulfill God’s vision and purpose for our life together. A mission driven church does not exist for herself. It exists for others. But what does that really mean and how is that lived out.