Are missions statements a good thing? Yes or No?
I’m not asking if there are good statements and bad statements… Do Mission Statements in and of themselves have any intrinsic moral value?
And the answer is “No”, they’re just words. They’re a tool to help us accomplish something good or bad. You can have a mission statement that’s crafted and word-smithed by the sharpest people around– Folks, who exegete their culture brilliantly. It can be the most impressive thing anyone has ever read. But if at the end of the day, your mission statement says that you value drop-kicking puppies—— “Word-smithing” isn’t going to help you too much there.
Mission statements don’t have any intrinsic moral value. They’re a tool to help you put language to what it is you value and are chasing after. So, here’s another question: Did Jesus command His followers to craft mission statements?
Can we turn to somewhere in the gospels and find what Jesus thinks about them? Nope. What did He command His people to do? Matthew 28:18-20 —>
So right before Jesus ascends into heaven, He’s got one last thing to take care of—
He’s spent the last 3 years or so, discipling his guys. He’s handled that whole sacrificial death on the cross as an act of atonement to reconcile us the Father, thing. He’s been raised from the dead as a vindication of His perfect righteousness. You know… A couple of minor errands to take care of. And right before He ascends into heaven, He huddles the disciples up and tells them that their job from now on is to make other disciples and teach them everything He taught them. He bases that command on the fact that He has all authority in Heaven and on Earth. And in case you’re keeping score….. That means that Jesus owns all the authority. So, this is neither a suggestion nor a cute little tip, this is THE JOB of those who would be called His followers. So much so, that to operate outside of this command… means we’re not actually a following Jesus.
And so, we say at our church gatherings on a regular basis— that we have 1 job to do. We say that everything else we do either serves the accomplishment of that one job or it’s a misuse of our time and our resources. So, how do mission statements in general and our mission statement in particular play into all of this?
Well, to put it quite simply: It either serves the accomplishment of our one job or it’s a misuse of our time and our resources.
See— Church Mission Statements, should never exist for themselves. We don’t unite around a mission statement. We unite around Jesus and His finished work on the cross. We unite around His commands to us. A Mission Statement is not intrinsically good. But it’s not intrinsically bad either. See, when a mission statement helps us accomplish our greater aim of making disciples of all nations….Well then, it’s an especially good thing.
So, what do I mean by “HELP”? Well, how do we measure how we’re doing on the whole “teach others what Jesus teaches us” part of all of this? We can attach numbers to the “make new disciples” part…. but what about the growing disciples part?
How do we measure that? And in comes a mission statement. For Nashua Baptist Church, our mission statement is nothing more than a grid, the next step down the pipe so we can begin to measure how we’re doing. It’s a next level tool, to begin to help us accomplish our 1 job. So, how does “Knowing God” play into all of these? “What does it mean, to know God” Is there more involved than just knowing about Him?
Matthew 5, 6, & 7 are what we refer to as the Sermon On The Mount. It’s a long-form sermon that even some of the most secular people in our culture can quote pieces of. Jesus spends time talking about several different things but it’s the very end of His teaching that concerns us this morning…
Jesus has just spent that last 2.5 chapters unfolding how God sees things on a heart level. That regardless of how hard we try to pretty ourselves up on the outside, that He’s not impressed because He sees what’s going on under the surface. (He holds us accountable)
But in verse 15, there’s a shift and He gives a warning to watch out for false prophets. (He calls them ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing). So, while it’s true that someone can seem impressive on the outside while having a heart that’s far from God…. Jesus says you can ultimately tell who they are by looking at the fruit that their lives produce. Jesus here, frames in it in terms of spiritual health verses spiritual disease. He says that those who know Him produce spiritually healthy fruit and those who don’t…. produce diseased fruit.
So, one of the reasons why “Knowing God” is a part of our mission statement is because that’s the only context where making new disciples can actually occur. You will hear us talk ad-nauseam about how we pursue knowing God deeply because He is worth pursuing. You’ll hear us talk about it that way more often because it’s the more joy producing way of framing it. We spend a lot of time unfolding the beautiful reality that knowing God is our great joy and that it’s what we’ve been created for all along….
But it’s also true that: Those who “know God” deeply, naturally produce the fruit of new disciples. And “Knowing God” is in our mission statement because of that very thing. But it’s not the only reason it’s in our statement.
Jesus just said that there will be a lot of people who have spent their entire lives doing amazing things…. and that those people won’t make it into heaven. (Just sit and let that one stew for a second…)
Did you see some of the things on that list?Prophesy? Casting out demons? “Many mighty works”? All done in Jesus’ name? They will work and work— they will give sacrificially of themselves. They will be difference makers and move the needle on spiritual things–But Jesus is going to look them in the eye and ask who the heck they are. He will say “I don’t know you. And your works are nothing but lawlessness to Me”.
Over the next 2 weeks, we’re going to dive deeply into why we value “Loving One Another” & “Serving In the World”. We’re going to spend a lot of time trumpeting why those things are important to us and why they should be important to everyone else. We’re going to spend the next 2 weeks fleshing out ways for all of us as a church family to pour into those two things and be better at those two things… But today, I need us to see why “Knowing God” comes first in our mission statement… It’s because, according Jesus Himself, It is entirely possible to do those two things exceptionally well, and miss the more important one. It is possible to succeed at Loving One Another and Serving in The World and still go to Hell. If we nail 2/3 of this… but miss this one…… Tragedy.
This is why we make a gigantic deal around Nashua Baptist Church about giving you opportunities to press in to knowing God more deeply. This is why we have reading lists and bible reading plans and bible study opportunities. This is why we dedicate most of our worship gatherings to the declaration of God’s word. This is why we have a bulletin board out in the hallway constantly reminding you of these things. If we nail the other 2 but we miss the “knowing God” part of this…. we have actually failed.
But Jesus still isn’t done yet….
Jesus closes out the Sermon on the Mount (The most famous sermon in all of human history) by pretty much saying: “This is the reality, and you’re either someone who listens to Me and does what I say or you’re someone who doesn’t” He says— You can build and build— you can construct your house and decorate it so that it’s the nicest house on the block but if you’re building on something that doesn’t last—— neither will the thing you built.
Because the storm always comes. The wind always blows. The water always rises. And great is the fall of it. But those who build on the proper foundation can weather the storm. It’s not their building skills that make the house strong, it’s the foundation itself.. And it’s here that we see another reason why “Knowing God” has to come before our other values…
It’s because “Knowing God” only context the other 2 can actually be sustainable in.
“Loving One Another” sounds great. But you can also hear that in a Kindergarten class. You’ll hear it trumpeted from all kinds of folks in this world. And sometimes people’s definitions of “Love” will even line up how the bible wold define love. But eventually the wind is gonna blow and the water is going to rise. Put 2 sinners in a room together long enough and eventually, they’re going to fight over something. Conflict will always come. But for those who have their foundation in knowing and being reconciled to God, there’s something eternally deeper to unite them. They’ll weather the storm. (If they’re seeing God correctly). “Knowing God” is the only sustainable fuel that will allow “Loving One Another” to last. All other fuels will ultimately run out.
“Serving In The World” sounds great too. But you can also hear that down at the local civic group. You’ll hear it trumpeted from all kinds of folks in this world. And sometimes, people’s definitions of “Serve” will even line up with what the bible teaches serving to be. But eventually the wind is gonna blow and the water is gonna rise. Sooner or later someone is either going to despise your service or take advantage of it. Sooner or later you’re going to get tired and fed up. Conflict will always come. But for those who have their foundation in knowing and being reconciled to God, there is something eternally deeper to spur them on. They’ll weather the storm. (If they’re seeing God correctly). “Knowing God” is the only sustainable fuel that will allow “Serving In The World” to last. All other fuels will ultimately run out.
We want to be a church that “Knows God” and is known for knowing God. Not because it’ll grow our church but because that’s where life is found. That’s where ministry can happen. And that’s where disciples are made.