The reality of the world we live in today enables people to move from church to church all the time. While some Christians will stay at a church for the long haul, if you ask the average Christian how long they’ve been with their current church, there’s a good chance it’s not that long. There are a bunch of different reasons for that, some fine and maybe some not so fine.
Relatively speaking, it’s easy to get people to show up to church things. Some people are lonely and need things to do. Others feel a sense of obligation to do religious activities. Still others may be genuinely looking to be a part of expanding God’s Kingdom on the earth.
Don’t get me wrong. Getting people to show up is critical. You can’t fulfill the mission of a church without people showing up. But being a church of people that just show up isn’t enough to be a healthy church. And to make sure that doesn’t happen, it’s key that the mission of the church is clear and specific.
Here’s 2 glaring signs that it isn’t.
1. People aren’t becoming committed, consistent collaborative partners
I won’t go on and on here about how the church is a body of many co-equal parts and all. I’ll assume that already resonates with you. God’s design since the very beginning has been about a community of many partners that would work together as one unified unit. A many-but-one body with Jesus Christ as the Head.
But this only works out practically when everyone is mutually participating and submitting to one another, just like the Persons within God do that we were made to image on the earth.
But this can only happen if everyone is equally bought in to the mission for being together. And people only buy in to a mission that’s clear and specific.
This is not a slogan or a tagline. When a church has a tagline like “A Church for Families” what does that exactly communicate? It communicates that families looking for a church might feel like they fit in there. But is there such thing as a church that isn’t for families?
But what are we trying to accomplish here? The chances increase here of attracting people that will only be receivers and they just want their family to be in a comfortable environment with other families.
There’s a church I know of whose purpose is to “lead people from where they are to where God wants them to be.”
Am I not where God wants me to be right now? And where exactly does God want me to be if it’s not where I am right now? Also, how exactly is this going to happen?
The concept is great, but I’m going to have a hard time building my life around a mission like this. It’s not clear to me what we’re trying to do or how it’s going to happen.
Here’s something that might work better…
To learn to live by and express divine life to one another and the world around us through building together a network of small, healthy shared-life Kingdom communities in the greater Smithsville area.
There’s no mistaking what we’re going to do (learn to live by divine life…) or how we’re going to do it (build Kingdom communities…). This is much more likely to not only resonate with the right people, but also to be something people will build their lives around if they’re in agreement with it.
2. The purpose isn’t owned by everyone
A clear and specific purpose is owned by no one and everyone. It’s hard for a person to adhere to and buy in to a mission that they don’t own. They must feel that they equally share the responsibility and contribute to the outcome of completing the mission if they commit to it. If they don’t, they won’t build their lives around it.
When people don’t own the mission, they feel like pawns that are being used as the unclear and unspecific parts of the church’s mission are defined and mostly carried out on the fly by others. Most people will feel less important compared to those who are more aggressive in pushing their agendas through.
When a mission is clear and specific, it’s the standard that everyone is accountable to.
If these 2 things aren’t happening, they are glaring signs that your church’s mission isn’t clear and specific enough.
Partners on mission together
A healthy church is one made up of partners that all own the mission together. This means you don’t want just anybody participating. You want the appropriate people participating.
If the mission isn’t clear and specific, there’s a chance you’ll grow to be a very large group. But it’s likely you won’t actually accomplish anything of deep value.
People will show up and kick the tires. But what you want to happen as quickly as possible is for everyone to identify if they resonate with the mission of the church enough to build their lives around it.
If I walked up to a bunch of people that attend your church and ask them “what is this church’s mission?,” would I get the same clear and specific answer from each of them? If not, this can explain why you have a minority of people participating as collaborative partners while the rest are passive consumers.