Pastor, God has established your church for a purpose. Too often, though, we fail to communicate that purpose to the people who would be most interested in hearing about it the church itself.
The most powerful way to communicate the purposes of your church is to personalize them. The purposes of the church can be stated as Gods five goals for every believer. These goals express what God wants each of us to do with our lives while on Earth. Help your people understand personally that:
God wants me to be a MEMBER of his family.
This is the purpose of fellowship. The Bible is very clear that following Christ is not just a matter of believing. It also includes belonging. The Christian life is not a solo act. God has given us the church as a spiritual family for our own benefit. Ephesians 2:19 (LB) says, ... You are members of God's very own family ... and you belong in God's household with every other Christian."
God wants me to be a MODEL of his character.
This is the goal of discipleship. God wants every believer to grow up to become like Christ in character. In 1 Timothy 4:12, Paul gives us several specific areas where we are to model the character of Christ: ... set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith, and in purity. Notice that maturity is not measured by ones learning but by ones lifestyle.
God wants me to be a MINISTER of his grace.
A third responsibility of every Christian is service. God expects us to use the gifts, talents, and opportunities he gives us to benefit others. 1 Peter 4:10 says, Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God's grace in its various forms.
God intends for every believer to have a ministry. At Saddleback, we are very up-front about this expectation when witnessing to unbelievers. We dont bait and switch. I tell unbelievers, When you give your life to Christ you are signing up to minister in his name for the rest of your life."
God wants me to be a MESSENGER of his love.
This is the churchs purpose of evangelism. Once we have been born again, we become messengers of the Good News to others. Its part of the job description for every believer. 2 Corinthians 5:19-20 says, "For God was in Christ, restoring the world to himself, no longer counting men's sins against them but blotting them out. This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others. We are Christ's ambassadors. God is using us to speak to you: we beg you, as though Christ himself were here pleading with you, receive the love he offers you be reconciled to God. (LB)
We each have a mission on Earth and part of it includes telling others about Christ. Paul said, "Life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus the work of telling others the Good News about God's mighty kindness and love." (Acts 20:24 LB)
God wants me to be a MAGNIFIER of his name.
Psalm 34:3 says, "O magnify the Lord with me, And let us exalt his name together." (NASB) We are called to worship God. There is an inborn urge to worship in every human being. If we dont worship God, we will find a replacement.
He may worship his job, his family, money, a sport, or even himself. Thats why the very first commandment says, Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
While fulfilling the five purposes of the church are a responsibility of every Christian, they also provide spiritual, emotional, and relational benefits. The church provides people with things they cannot find anywhere else in the world: Worship helps me focus on God; fellowship helps me face lifes problems; discipleship helps me fortify my faith; ministry helps me find my talents; evangelism helps me fulfill my mission.
Dont assume that a single sermon on the churchs purpose will permanently set the direction of your church, or that by printing your purposes in the bulletin everyone has learned them, or even read them! One widely known law of advertising is that a message must be communicated seven times before it really sinks in.
At Saddleback, we use as many different channels as we can think of to keep our purposes before our church family. Once a year, usually in January, I preach an annual State of the Church message. It is always a review of our five purposes. I say, Its that time again, folks!
Many pastors do not understand the power of the pulpit. Like a rudder on a ship it will determine the direction of a church either intentionally or unintentionally. If you are a pastor, use your pulpit on purpose! Where else do you get everyones undivided attention on a weekly basis? Whenever you speak, always look for the opportunity to say something like, And thats why the church exists ...
In addition to preaching and teaching, weve used brochures, banners, articles, newsletters, bulletins, videos, and cassettes, and weve even written songs to communicate our purposes. At the entrance to our worship center, our purposes and corresponding verses are etched into the glass foyer for all to read as they enter. We believe that if we keep saying the same thing in different ways one of those ways will capture the attention of every member. Often, after presenting the purposes in a new way, someone will say, I just got it for the first time!
Unless it is reinforced, the vision of any church fades with time. You must restate your purpose on a regular basis. Utilize as many different media as you can. Teach it over and over and fan the fire of purpose in your people!
Until next week,
This article is adapted from The Purpose Driven Church, by Rick Warren.
Rick Warren is the founding pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., one of America's largest and best-known churches. In addition, Rick is author of the New York Times bestseller The Purpose-Driven Life and The Purpose-Driven Church, which was named one of the 100 Christian books that changed the 20th Century. He is also founder of Pastors.com, a global Internet community for ministers. Copyright 2005 Pastors.com, Inc. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
Adapted from Rick Warren's Ministry ToolBox, a free weekly e-newsletter for pastors and church leaders, available at Pastors.com.