Clarity of Purpose

“Intentionality in the leader results from a compelling sense of mission”
Reggie McNeal
     What separates great organizations from ordinary ones is clarity of purpose. This is true for churches. Many churches are simply consumed by the urgent demands each day brings, responding to the felt needs of it members and repeating what was done last year. All of this is done without questioning if the church’s mission is advanced by all this busyness. These churches remain stagnant in membership and spiritual vitality for a few years before a gradual decline begins. Then one day, the church leaders question how they will pay the power bill. I see this dynamic being played out currently with a once prominent south Floridachurch. Their lack of focus has resulted in attempting many good things that has exhausted their staff and depleted their financial resources.
     There is another kind of church, of course. Membership and worship attendance remains strong and there is a palpable energy that is contagious. I have not seen one church like this that lacked a clear, compelling sense of mission. Most striking is that a majority of the membership is aware of the mission of the church and is active, in some measure, in advancing that mission.
     The New Testament Book of Acts instructs the modern-day church of God’s intention for the church, what I will call the four central tasks of the church. These tasks are:
* Bring new people to faith in Jesus Christ and membership in the church. (Connect)
* Provide a clear pathway for people to grow as obedient disciples of Jesus Christ. (Grow)
* Equip and mobilize members in ministry according to their God-given gifts. (Serve)
* Provide a comprehensive ministry of care for all people. (Care)
     For this congregation to move toward becoming an “Acts” church, a change in how we think about church will be required. Perhaps the primary change will be to abandon all thoughts that have to with “what I want from the church,” replacing them with thoughts, “what can we do to advance the four central tasks?” This, of course, requires that we stop saying that we don’t like something, but, rather, questioning if an idea moves the church toward God’s purposes. This isn’t really so difficult when we accept the notion that the church isn’t “my church that exists to serve me” and remember that it is God’s church that exists for people who aren’t yet members.

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