By Scott Nelson, Lead Pastor
When you think about the upcoming year, are you more hopeful or overwhelmed? I was walking with my wife, Hannah, this week and we were talking about what was coming up in 2020. Honestly, 2019 was amazing but exhausting. As we looked forward to the coming year, we felt a little bit overwhelmed with all of the activities and goals that we had. Then one thought cleared the fear: the mission of God can grow this year. For me, the passion for God’s mission lives out in church planting, new people coming to faith, and devoted people growing more on fire for Christ. There are a lot of things that vie for my attention every year (and day!), but it is the mission that gives me focus. I can’t do everything (no one can), and it is so helpful to have a mission for my life that allows me to say “yes” to some things and “no” to others.
Our church has a mission statement: “Together with the Holy Spirit we exist to transform religious and irreligious people into Fully Devoted Followers of Christ.” This is our mission; it helps us stay focused and reminds us that we can’t do everything. We don’t need to be better than any other church (we are on the same team after all), we just need to live out the mission that God has given us. We love to create experiences with God in a joyful, authentic, and caring community–then challenge people to go deeper in evangelism, devotions, generosity, ministry, justice, and leadership–which leads to deeper experience and community. This is the mission we have lived out for 10 years, and we have no plans on stopping now! In fact, we want to take all everything we have learned and grown in the last 10 years and continue to put it all on the line for the mission of God. We are faith-filled, prayer-led, big-thinking risk takers for the Kingdom of God.
Every word in our mission statement is significant.
- “Together with the Holy Spirit…” We can’t fulfill this mission on our own. That makes some people lose heart because they can’t control the outcome, but it encourages me because I know I don’t need to be in control. This is HIS mission, not mine; I have found the purpose of my life in the calling of my Lord.
- “…we exist…” It may seem like a strange question, but why does a church exist? Most people never ask this question, and so never get to the good answer. Our church doesn’t exist “just because;” we have a mission. We exist to live out that mission. That means we won’t look the same or do the same things as every other church. The church doesn’t have a mission; God’s mission has the church. We exist to live out God’s mission in our lives and our world.
- “…to transform…” Change is not easy, but our mission is to see lives changed. We focus on experiences and decisions that lead to transformation, followed up by relationships and habits that reinforce the growth that God is doing. We want every person, every year, to be closer to Christ. We are not here to run programs but to see lives transformed.
- “…religious and irreligious people…” If we are going to reach people who don’t go to church we have to be willing to do things that other churches don’t do. We will do anything other than sin to reach people for Jesus. Or, as we sometimes say, “This ain’t your mama’s church!” Of course, all moms are welcome. We want to reach those who are far from Christ. We ALSO want to reach religious people. The Bible makes it clear that God’s goal is not for us to be “religious,” legalistic people; those were the people who killed Christ. This means that religious people need to be transformed, too. There is no substitute for an authentic relationship with the living God.
- “…into Fully Devoted Followers of Christ.” Obedience is important, but devotion means more. Devotion includes LOVE; we obey Jesus because we love Him. We love Him because He first loved us. He pours out His love and we respond and overflow. The goal is not just to be a little devoted but FULLY devoted. We are FOLLOWERS of Christ; we don’t just attend church or “check the boxes” but follow Jesus. We dive deeper and deeper into God’s word, wanting to know Him more and more. And we live out what we have learned, following the way of truth, grace, and love.
That was a bit longer than I was planning on saying-but when I get started on our mission statement, I get passionate!! It helps give focus to our church and my life.
A new year is here. My prayer is that you will put first things first. Follow Jesus and live out His mission. Whenever I have put my focus there, my fear fades and His hope rises in my heart.