Successful organizations have clearly defined mission statements and a vision for the future of the organization and its mission. The values of the organization are considered carefully in the process of crafting a mission and vision statement. When organizations lose the focus of their mission and vision, they develop problems and can die if they don’t get back on track. (Anyone remember Compaq or Toys-R-Us?).
What relationship is there between worldly organizations and the church? While there certainly are differences, especially the fact that the objectives of the church reach into eternity, there are definitely similarities. I want to begin this article with a question: Did Jesus have a clear sense of mission and vision for His church? I believe the answer is a resounding “Yes!”
I believe there are numerous places we could turn in the Scriptures to find His mission for the church; John 17, Jesus’ prayer for His church just before His death and resurrection contains multiple elements of His church’s mission. Notice John 17:3 "And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
This knowledge of the Lord is not simply a head knowledge about Him. It is essentially an ongoing personal encounter (see Philippians 3:10). In John 17:21 He prayed "that they [believers] all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us… This is a prayer for unity among believers. Unity in love, in message, in mission. Then in verses 18, 20, 21 He prays about another dimension of mission for the church: "’As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. ‘I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; ...that the world may believe that You sent Me.’”
What Jesus is referring to here is that an unbelieving world will be brought to faith in Him through believers who are unified in Him. A representative committee was voted by your church board earlier this year to plan evangelism. We felt that the relationship between mission, vision and evangelism are so great that we should develop a mission and vision statement while in the process of planning.
We prayerfully developed our mission and vision statements with the words of Scripture in our minds. Mission and vision statements were recently approved by our board and I want to share the mission statement with you this week. Can you find the principles of Jesus’ John 17 prayer in this statement? “To know Jesus, be one in Him and make Him known.” Are you willing to embrace this statement and support the mission Jesus prayed about? If so, what will be different in your life if you do?