This spring the church leadership met for our semi-annual officers retreat (it sounds nicer that it is: we met in a conference room in a West Jordan hotel). At that meeting we started a discussion where we asked, “What is the mission of our church?” Jesus gave his church a mission, to be his witness (Acts 1:8) and to make disciples (Matt 1:28). So, that is our mission. But we also recognized that we are not the only gospel-centered church in our community. Paul speaks of the diversity of the church, that each individual believer, and even churches, have gift sets, but no one person, or even one particular church has all the gifts that Christ has given his church. JPC is a part of the Body of Christ.
So, considering the gifts, interests, people and location of JPC, how do we do our part to further the mission that Christ has given his church? After a lot of prayer and discussion, we decided that the mission of our church was: “We are inviting everyone on our journey to know Christ above all else.”
Let me explain a few things about this mission statement:
- We wanted our mission to be something we could actually do. In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul speaks about how he planted seeds of the gospel, Apollos watered them, but God gave the growth in people. We can’t make people become Christians, we can’t make people grow in Christ, only God can do this. But we can invite people to know him and grow in him.
- We are inviting people on a journey. This journey metaphor is found throughout Scripture. A journey means that we have not arrived. That means we are not inviting others as people who have finished, but we are inviting people to walk with us. Journeys are full of rough patches, hills, dark valleys, sometimes it seems like you aren’t making progress. The Christian life is a journey. On a journey some people are further along, some are slower, but we still have further to go.
- We are inviting people on our journey. None of us makes the journey alone, but with others. We carry each other's burdens, we pray for each other. We are in this together.
- We are inviting people on our journey to know Christ above all else. A journey has a destination. For us it is knowing Christ above all else. Everything that we do must be Christ-centered. We are introducing people to Christ. As Pastor Tim has often said, “introduce them to Jesus and let him change what he wants with them.”
There are all kinds of ways we can invite people. We can invite them to church. But we can also invite them into our lives. We invite neighbors over for dinner to develop relationships. We invite each other to take the next step in our journey to know Christ.
Is this a new direction for the church?
No, this is re-emphasising and refocusing on the core values this church was founded on. Perhaps some of you remember a triangle diagram Pastor Tim used to draw, with “making disciples” at the top and on the left and right sides of the triangle were evangelism and discipleship. In many ways we see this mission as simply putting into words that diagram Pastor Tim established.
One thing we did note in our discussions was that the leaders had different ideas about what our mission statement was. We realized that we didn’t have a clear mission statement. We had a motto, “knowing Christ above all else,” but didn’t have a mission statement. So, we asked how do we take our motto, which we all know and love, and turn it into a mission?
What will change now that we’ve got a mission statement?
None of the leadership is under the impression that having a mission statement will magically change everything. In fact, much will look the same. But let me share a story that illustrates the benefit of having our mission always before us.
This summer when VBS was approaching there would often be a group of children playing near the church. I would think, “I should invite them to VBS.” But I would then turn back to my to-do list and, be reminded of all the stuff I needed to get done today. Tomorrow I could invite them to VBS. Then I put the mission statement on the wall. And those words, “we are inviting everyone on our journey to know Christ above all else” started nagging me day after day. Yes, each day I had a list of things to do. But that statement on the wall reminded me what was most important. It gave clarity amid the busyness of day-to-day life. Unless I’m inviting people on this journey, all this other stuff doesn’t really matter. So the next time I saw those kids I walked outside and talked to them and their mom. Then I invited them to VBS. Did they come? No, but like the mission statement says, all we can do is invite people.