The Ultimate Mission Statement
For the purpose of focusing efforts, I believe that a mission statement is a valuable tool. Of course, this is true only if the mission statement is the epitome of brevity and possesses a laser-like simplicity.
Recently, I was involved in several discussions at my church with regard to how spiritual formation classes/curriculum would be developed. The discussions were neither focused nor fruitful, and to make matters worse, several short-to-lengthy written communications were authored and distributed by a couple of the group’s members that did not contribute anything beside murkiness to the goal of putting together classes and/or curriculum.
I will freely admit that I was both annoyed, and not at all forgiving. As I write this post, the following comes to mind:
Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. (Matthew 18:21-22)
Jesus went on to tell the parable of the unmerciful servant, who could not pay an almost incalculable amount of debt to his master. Instead of selling the servant and his family to pay the debt, the master forgave the servant the entire debt and freed him after hearing the servant’s impassioned plea for additional time to pay. However, instead of showing the same mercy to a fellow servant who owed him a very small debt, the unmerciful servant had his fellow servant jailed until the entire debt was paid back.
The words of Jesus are sobering, and my heart is convicted because of them, as the parable is concluded:
“Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:32-35)
By the blood of Jesus Christ, I ask for forgiveness for the annoyance that I felt, and for the forgiveness and understanding that I withheld from my brothers in the faith. May they forgive me as our heavenly Father forgives me.
With regard for the issues facing spiritual formation in our church, I do not recall ever seeing a mission statement for spiritual formation, and I wondered if one would help in focusing our thoughts and efforts, because a mission statement is essentially an idea, a goal, a vision. This is not to say that a mission statement should be verbose; quite the opposite. Someone once said, ‘If you can’t write your idea on the back of my business card… you don’t have a clear idea’, and I think this is exactly what a mission statement should exemplify. Take for instance the actual mission statement of Microsoft:
A PC on every desktop
Surely we believing and professing Christians can do at least as well as Microsoft! I had been struggling to come up with ideas for spiritual formation classes and curriculum, and not getting anywhere, when I received a move of the Holy Spirit to write this post and think about a mission statement for spiritual formation. Here is what I came up with for a mission statement for spiritual formation; that is to say, here is the idea, the vision, the goal for spiritual formation:
Every soul saved
When Jesus sent His Apostles by twos among the lost sheep of Israel, it was to save souls for the truth that was manifested in Him. Jesus knew the implications of the immortality of the soul: it would survive the death of the physical body, but the resurrected body and the immortal soul would exist forever in one of two places: heaven or hell. His testimony was compelling and urgent; so much so that He exhorted His Apostles to proclaim what He had told them privately, publicly, and to literally proclaim it from the rooftops:
“A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If the head of the house has been called Beelzebub, how much more the members of his household! “So do not be afraid of them. There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:24-28)
Jesus testified as to the worth of the entire world compared to the worth of a single soul:
What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? (Matthew 16:26)
Jesus ended His earthly testimony to His Apostles with a confirmation of the worth of all God’s souls, the giving of the Great Commission:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 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, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
It is our solemn duty as believing Christians to proclaim the Gospel to a lost, unbelieving and dying world: this charge has been given to us by the Lord Jesus Christ. Nothing else that a believing Christian can achieve in this entire world comes even remotely close in importance to planting the seeds of belief in an unbelieving person such that, when they are watered by the power of the Holy Spirit, and nourished by the inerrant Word of God and the blood of the One who was slain for the sins of the world, produce a soul saved for Almighty God.
If you think that you cannot witness for Jesus Christ and for the truth of the Gospel… yes, you can, for…
I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)