In what is called “The Great Commission,” Jesus commands his apostles to make disciples by going, baptizing, and teaching. While it took them a while to go, they finally got around to it with a lot of help from Barnabas, Paul, and the Church of Antioch.
We are here as a result of their work. Now we gather weekly to make disciples by going, baptizing, and teaching. This is the over-arching mission of every Christian congregation. We are always about the work of making disciples. A church that doesn’t disciple individuals for Christ is like a restaurant that doesn’t serve food. Both best close their doors.
While each Christian congregation embraces the mission of making disciples, a good practice for every congregation is to adopt and affirm a specific mission for their place and time. This mission will clarify a congregation’s specific purpose or niche. It will answer questions like:
What is the main thing God is asking of us?
What do we hope to accomplish for Christ in the next three to five years?
How do we intend to improve our ministry of making disciples?
How will our next pastor help us fulfill that mission?
Those questions will be asked by pastoral candidates and are best answered by the leadership of the congregation before beginning a search for a new pastor. Of course, discerning your congregation’s mission is easier said than done. This explains why many congregation’s simply default to one of two missions: survival or keep doing what we’ve been doing (maintenance), neither of which is too appealing to pastoral candidates.
A congregation willing to put in the time and energy to carefully articulate and embrace a mission for its next chapter of ministry will discover many resources. Personally, I lean on the Vision Frame by Will Mancini, but there are others, each of which prioritizes listening to God, to the people in the pews, and to the folk in the community.
Once a mission is identified, it will need to be activated through specific actions or strategies, or else it is nothing more than words on a piece of paper. Surely, one of the actions will be to call a pastor who possesses the skills and experience necessary to help the congregation live into its mission.
Prayer Prompt: Lord, make clear to us our mission for the next chapter of our ministry.
ChapterNext is a pastor search and church consulting firm led by Rev. Sam Hamstra. They assist congregations through a handful of services, including staff development, weekend worship workshops, leadership retreats, congregational mergers, and ministry reviews (vision and mission statements, budgets, building renovation, and marketing plans). These services grew out of ChapterNexts’ founding purpose which is to help congregations turn the page so that they can begin writing new chapters of dynamic and life-transforming ministry.