I have been keeping up with The Village Church’s latest sermon series via podcast. For the past couple of months, Pastor Matt Chandler has been preaching a series on the Mission of the Church. In a strange way, the sermon series has providentially intersected with my own journey as my own church goes through the Book of Philippians. I recommend listening to them here if you get a chance.
What is the mission of the church? Through this sermon series, Chandler seeks to answer this question by an even bigger question: What is the mission of God?
This question caught me off guard because in church ministry, the vision and mission of the church often gets discussed and clarified; however, the mission of God just becomes lost in a haze of assumption that we often forget or become disconnected from our reasons. In his sermon, Chandler boils this all down to one idea: The mission of God is, quite simply, God.
God’s renown, His glory, His nature and name being known is ultimately the end goal. The mission of God is not limited only to salvation or redemption, although those things are certainly the means by which God’s glory comes about in the ultimate way. But in the end, God is all about God.
And the mission of the church should also be God. The church is a covenant community that seeks to make much of God. And how do we accomplish this?
Through making disciples. Matthew 28:19-20.
At Real Life, we phrase it a little differently, calling it “changed lives.” Ultimately, however the goal should be the same: the glory of God through the making of disciples.
I learned that at the Village Church specifically, they seek to accomplish this mission strategically through four ways:
- gospel-centered worship: a lifestyle of Christ-centered worship both personally/organically and corporately/institutionally
- gospel-centered community: iron sharpening iron in all concentric circles of life: family, friends, neighbors, church community
- gospel-centered service: imitating Christ’s humility by putting others before ourselves both personally and corporately
- gospel-centered multiplication: increasing spiritual growth in our lives and those around us, deep and wide.
Although this list might appear repetitive, the point was made that it is entirely possible to have worship, community, service and multiplication without the gospel at the center. However, with Christ at the center of all things, this is the powerful means that God uses to redeem and restore broken humanity, all for our good and His glory.
I think a couple of things have struck me through this whole learning process over the past few weeks:
1) God’s glory and our joy are interwoven. No matter the circumstance, when God is glorified–at the fabric and DNA of who we are as people created in the image of God, designed to worship and love and be in relationship with all-loving Creator God–joy is always possible. Joy is always possible not because of me and my own twisted values and personal desires and wants and needs being fulfilled. The commands, promises, and purpose set forth by God are for His glory through our joy as restored people. God’s design set forth through Scripture is not meant to be this shackling, limiting list of rules to follow; rather, it’s an invitation to true freedom to live as we were meant to. Joy is possible because my joy and true well-being is invariably linked to God’s glory.
2) I’m starting to truly discover there is incredible freedom in realizing that I’m not the point. My life, my ministry, my relationships are not all about me. It’s easy to pay lip service to this idea, especially among Christian circles. We are very quick to say this sort of thing and agree with it. And I think people do actually think they think that or would like to think that way. But I’m realizing that few people actually live this way. The truth that “I’m not the point” is something I am constantly learning and re-learning and having to repent through. But I’m starting to realize what immense freedom there is in serving and loving without necessarily having to be a slave to my own desires. This has started to give me strength and hope and encouragement when I start to get frustrated or cynical, which happens far too frequently these days. This truth is also kicking the tar out of me when I started to grow arrogant or prideful or self-absorbed.
On a personal level, these ideas have helped me to break down the mission of God = the mission of the church = my own personal life mission.
And it also got me thinking a lot about churches and their mission statements. What is your church’s vision or mission statement? How is this played out in the day-to-day?