Why does your church (or organization) exist? Can you say it in a single sentence? Do your people know why they show up? 

If your church is like mine, a vast majority of the people who show up don't have a clue why your church exists. And if you did a man-on-the-street interview you would likely get as many answers as people you interviewed. It isn't that your church doesn't have a purpose, but that nobody can put their finger on what it is. 

That's a really good way to start conflict within the church on accident. When a group of ladies want to start Bingo night at the church, and you can't give them a concise reason why that isn't congruent with your purpose, they're going to be upset. When you cancel the Easter cantata because it isn't effective, but you can't explain what "effective" is, you're headed toward conflict. When economic realities cause you to cut the budget of some ministries while leaving some alone, you have to be able to explain why you chose the ones you chose.  

There's an external reason this is important too: If the purpose of your church cannot be clearly communicated by the members of your congregation, your purpose cannot be contagious. If they don't "get it," they can't "pass it" on.

Here are some clear purposes at some of the churches I'm aware of: 

- Helping people take their next step toward Christ... together.
- Making the name of Jesus Christ famous, one life at a time.
- Reaching People with the life-changing reality of Jesus Christ.
- To call all people to full devotion to Jesus Christ. 
- To bring glory to God through lives changed by the gospel of Jesus Christ.

A good purpose statement is clear, compelling, and easy to communicate (much like a good alliteration). When the Bingo girls want to use the main foyer on Tuesday nights, the first church listed above should be able to ask "Will Bingo help people take their next step toward Christ together?" If the answer is "yes," they are likely to find a way to make it happen. If the answer is "no," Bingo night would be a distraction from their purpose and poor stewardship of the building. 

We're currently thinking through this at McKinney. We have a purpose, and people have a vague idea what it is, but vague is not compelling, clear, or easy to communicate. We want it to reflect the biblical priorities for a church's purpose in a concise way, and we're making some progress. I'll keep you posted. 

Pastors - do you have something like this at your church? I'd love to know what it is. 
Non-Pastors - do you have something at this church? I'd love to know if you know what it is (without looking at the website).  


Katy said...

Ours is "To seek God, love others, and reach out to the world."
-Katy Martin

Malcolm said...

This was a process that we went through this past year and what I present is what we have come up with. What we are finding is that it is the constant and continual stating of the purpose statement that we need to do for our people (something I am sure you all are also aware of). Our people here these three words at every service, it is in every bulletin, in almost every meeting, it is becoming all pervasive. And people are beginning to get it.

Ours is:

Calling individuals to Christian discipleship
Growing obediently in community
Impacting the world through service

and succinctly communicated everywhere in the church as: Calling, Growing, Impacting or CGI.

BTW, I have been following your blog for over a year and enjoy it immensely. Thanks for the posts.


Deb said...

In the last year we've adopted the following vision stmt: Encouraging all people to pursue a lifelong, joyous relationship with Jesus Christ and to share His love with those in need.
In addition, we have 7 core values that I can't remember and couldn't look up anyway because our website is so outdated. Our number one core value is prayer, but I know community and missions are included.
I was surprised at the resistance to this process. Many thought it was unnecesary busy work..."why can't we just keep doing things the way we've always done them. It's working just fine" Well, except for the fact that the church is struggling, we're each doing our own thing, and have separate ideas of where we're headed.
Our pastor did an outstanding sermon series on the vision and core values; and as we increase their visibility and incorporation at CBC we are seeing more and more folks "get it".
That's my long-winded, poorly written "AMEN" to your post :)

C&P McKinzie said...

My church in OK had/ has the mission statement:
(Our purpose is) to love all people to Christ and to help them on their journey with God and each other.
Affectionately known as LAPTCAHTOTJWGAO, or something with that ring to it. I used to be able to pronounce it. :)
The Body would recite it at the end of each service. Good stuff!

Brenda Liniger said...

WHen I was attending Life church I could recite theirs by heart because they were so forth coming with their statement,,,,I can honestly say that I am unaware of what MMBCs is and now that I realize I don't know it I am saddened and ashamed.