My first week of working with Redeemer Fellowship is in the books. It was a great week full of planning, praying, and playing with Joe Thorn and Pat Aldridge. I mentioned in a previous post that one of the areas that I will be focusing on as a staff member and elder candidate is the implementation of the church’s mission and vision. Every church has a mission statement (a summary of the church’s goal and agenda), whether posted or implied. While each church has its own slant and flavor, what is important is that the mission is articulated in a way that encourages individuals to embrace and embody it. Redeemer Fellowship seeks to carry out the mission that Jesus articulated before his ascension:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Mt 28:18–20
This passage give us the barebones, basic mission of the universal church of Christ. The church is called to witness to a fallen and broken world of the immeasurable love of God in Jesus Christ and lead such people in faith and obedience. We have not been called to a holy huddle, but a passionate, radical, transformative, missional, and all encompassing discipleship that seeks to glorify God and share his love with all. The mission of Redeemer Fellowship is:
To Make Disciples As Disciples
This is simple yet it captures the essence of what we are called to do and to be. This is what a good mission statement does. Once the mission statement is clearly articuated, it must then be unpacked in such a way that people see how it will be lived out in the life of the church. This is the “vision” a church has for itself.
At Redeemer we talk about the mission of the church being carried out in three environments: the table, the pulpit, and the square. Joe Thorn made it a priority that the mission and vision of Redeemer Fellowship be clear, comprehensible, and communicable—something really enough to put on the back of a napkin. Later this week I will unpack Redeemer’s vision (table, pulpit, and square), but for now let me explain what I think is critical in casting vision.
There should be no mistake what you are about when presenting your mission and vision statement. Often churches make the mistake of inadvertently overcomplicating what they are about. When you try to say too much, you end up saying nothing. Here is the test, if you cannot explain your church’s mission and vision on a napkin in a couple of minutes, then you neither understand it yourself nor will you be able to convey it to others.
This is the balance that must be struck. A mission and vision needs to capture everything that you are about but at the same time be concise. A church needs to work hard to ensure that when sharing who they are and what they do, one is able to leave with a firm grasp what the church is really about. A mission statement alone is not enough. It need to be unpacked via vision.
A mission and vision statement is worthless if it is not memorable and repeatable. This is how you know your church body buys into your mission and vision; they themselves are able to share it with others. One cannot embody the mission and vision if they themselves cannot explain to others. A membership that does not embody the mission and vision of the church lacks direction and confidence, and will aimlessly wander, defaulting to selfishly pursuing programs that serve their own interests at the expense of what God has called them to.
I passionately believe that a church’s mission and vision are crucial to the life of the church. So much, that when my family was moving to Chicago, we spent time looking at potential churches and studying their mission and vision. When meeting with Pastors, the one question I asked every single one was what their mission and vision was. Michelle and I were greatly encouraged about Redeemer Fellowship when pastor Joe was able to clearly, comprehensibly, and communicably articulate what the church was all about. After the meeting I understood it and loved it.
The people of God want to follow Jesus, and the church must create a biblical path to follow in order to make disciples. When leadership both explains and walks the path others are willing to join and follow.