By Ken Willard

The mission of the West Virginia Annual Conference is to discover, develop, and deploy passionate spiritual leaders who make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Have you seen or heard that before? (We hope that you have!)

But what is “mission?” Does your church have a mission statement? Why would an organization, or a church, have a mission statement?

Great questions!

Aubrey Malphurs (Th.M., Ph.D., Dallas Theological Seminary), in his book Ministry Nuts and Bolts: What They Don’t Teach Pastors in Seminary, shares the following insights:

  • I define a ministry mission as a broad, brief, biblical statement of what the organization is supposed to be doing.
  • Mission is different from vision. Vision is a clear, challenging picture of the future of the ministry as you believe it can and must be.
  • Mission is different from purpose. Mission asks the what question. What has God called this ministry to accomplish? Purpose asks the why question. Why has God placed us here?

Here are a few mission statements from some very well-known organizations:

  • “To build the Web’s most convenient, secure, cost-effective payment solution.” – PayPal
  • “To be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information, using its portfolio of brands to differentiate its content, services and consumer products.” – The Walt Disney Company
  • “To organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” – Google
  • “To prevent and alleviate human suffering in the face of emergencies by mobilizing the power of volunteers and the generosity of donors.” – American Red Cross

What do you see? Each one of these is describing clearly what it is their organization does. Technology may change—their customers may change—the locations where they do business may change—the products and services they offer may change—but their mission will still be the same.

In the church world, our mission has been given to us. Jesus said in Matthew 28:19-20: “Therefore, go 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 obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” (CEB)

That is our mission. We don’t make cars, or movies, or food, or anything else (nothing against those organizations who do). We make disciples. That is our mission.

Yes, some churches and ministries say it a little differently. That is all fine, as long as there is a very clear connection back to Mathew 28: 19-20.

Here is a secret . . . every church who claims to follow Jesus has the same mission. The other churches down the street, the other denomination churches, the non-denominational churches, all of us are on the same team! We do have competition in this world, but it is not other churches. For any church to really live into God’s mission for your church, each ministry in the church must focus first on making disciples of Jesus.

Why is mission important?

  • Formulates the ministry’s function – You will never do ministry that matters until you define what matters. Mission is an expression of strategic intent.
  • Provides a guideline for decision making – It provides direction for when to say “yes” and when to say “no” (based on potential for making disciples)
  • Inspires ministry unity – a clear direction communicates a unifying theme and gets us all rowing in the same direction.
  • Facilitates evaluation – The fruitfulness of a ministry can be measured in its effectiveness in making disciples.

Now what? Information + application = transformation.

Hopefully you are clear on what mission is and why it is important for your church. Here are a few suggested next steps:

  • Read Ministry Nuts and Bolts by Aubrey Malphurs; or Canoeing the Mountains by Tod Bolsinger; or Small Church Checkup by Phil Schroeder and Kay Kotan; or Time Management for the Christian Leader by Ken Willard
  • Have a conversation with your church leadership team about your mission and how you feel you are doing living into that mission. Create a plan to improve your disciple-making process this year.
  • Ask the ministry leaders in your church how their ministry is helping your church make disciples. (Be sure to speak with all ministry teams—don’t forget trustees, finance, choir, etc.)
  • Read the article by Jim Cowart “Mission is Constant but Methods Must Change” and share the insights with another leader in your ministry. (Click this link)
  • Contact me if I can be of any help to your church with any aspect of strategic ministry planning. (core values, mission, vision, goals)

In challenging times, we need to stay focused on our mission – GO AND MAKE DISCIPLES!