Leadership has always been very important in the Church. Beginning from the New Testament, leaders emerged in various communities, who organized and supervised different ministries in their communities. Ordinarily, the exercise of leadership by Church leaders depends on their understanding of leadership. The Church’s understanding of leadership at any given period will determine the way it exercises leadership. And the concept of leadership in the various societies in the Church will determine how their leaders exercise leadership.
A CHURCH WITH VISION
Our vision at AND-Mission for the Pentecostal Church is a Christ-centered Church equipped for transforming mission among people. So, our efforts will be reserved for building capacity of the church to reach our dream. This is in agreement with our prophesy of Pentecostalism as the Uganda’s leading Christian Church in the near future. We encourage every Pentecostal church therefore to have a vision as a leading vehicle to this Christian journey.
When people think of church vision statements, there are usually two related but different things they picture. One is a vision statement, and one is a mission statement. These documents are related and most churches end up combining them, but for the purpose of discussion, we’ll treat them separately. The difference is that a vision statement describes how you and God see your church. It focuses on the personality of the church. A mission statement describes what actions will result from your vision. As you work on your vision statement, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Remember, this is your vision, it’s the way God sees you. If your vision is small, your church will be small. If you think God’s view of your purpose is small, you’ve been deceived. That’s why you need to dream big. Your vision statement needs to be bold enough that you never finish fulfilling it, while also being realistic enough to let you see progress and not become discouraged.
A good example of this principle is Life church’s vision statement: “Life Church as a dynamic, spirit-filled, multi-cultural church, numbering in the thousands, impacting our city, our nation and our world through leadership development and church planting.” These are bold statements. In fact, their boldness is often a point of humor because these words were written when there were only 7 people in service, all of which were white. But, it gave the church something to shoot for. It told new members what to expect, and when the first non-white family showed up, everyone in the church welcomed them with open arms. They had been praying for diversity and the bold vision prepared them to succeed. Now, the church has grown into the thousands and the racial make-up in the church almost exactly matches the racial make-up in the city around it. But, the vision is still large enough that no one can sit back and say, “We’re done, nothing left to do.” When you dream big, you will always have room to grow.
A good vision statement focuses your members on fulfilling it. That means your members have to be able to memorize it. Ideally, you want to shoot for one sentence. It doesn’t have to be a short sentence, but it should be one sentence, because a sentence—no matter how long it is—must contain one thought and that thought must follow a logical progression. Even if your statement is a hundred words long, if you make it follow a logical progression, your members can internalize the message.
I’ll also let you in on a little secret among writers: Brevity begins with long drafts. If you can make your first draft concise and to the point, great; But, don’t feel guilty if your first attempt is three pages long. It’s just a draft. If you try to do a perfect statement the first time around, you’ll be paralyzed by fear and never finish. But, if you give yourself permission to make the first draft long and horrible, you won’t have trouble doing it. Then, you can cut and mold at your leisure. Just keep drafting until your vision statement is where it needs to be.
Since your vision statement exists to inspire your members, you need to make it reward meditation. Chose your words carefully, so the more attention someone pays the more they get out of it. The way you do this is by pondering the meaning of the words you pick so every word carries its weight. Does God want you to equip missionaries, or to prepare them? Are you to be a light to the nations, or a beacon? There are differences in each of those options, and every one of them needs to be done by someone. The question is “which does God want you doing?” By making your words precise, you convey volumes of information in the smallest space possible, making your vision memorable.
A good example of this would be Mark 10:45, where Jesus says, “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” You could think of this as Jesus’ vision statement, and you can see the way it rewards meditation. The ideas it conveys are revealing in and of themselves. The wording is precise and directive. After all, no synonym of “serve” conveys that same level of self-sacrifice. It’s the only word that alludes to the deprivation of slavery while still allowing the servant the capacity to leave if they feel like it. The use of “ransom” is similarly precise. As a result, the reader feels the paradoxes at work and their attention is directed to what’s important. After all, with words that are this exact, there’s only one way that the meaning can unfold itself.
Christians need to be unified in their vision and united in their goals. But, they shouldn’t have the same vision statement. Your vision statement is about what God has called you to be and how he sees you. If there is nothing in your vision statement that couldn’t apply to the church down the road, you need to ask why your churches are separated. There should be some point of difference that makes you special. We should be united in our purpose, but we should be no more united in our functions than a heart and a lung are. They have the same purpose (giving oxygen to your cells), but that purpose won’t be fulfilled unless they do different functions.
TAKE YOUR TIME
Keep in mind that the purpose of your vision statement is to direct the course of your church. This is a big deal, so don’t feel you have to rush. Take your time; let the committee meet five or six times. Talk to pastor friends. Take time to revise and rewrite until you have what you want. And, don’t feel guilty about spending a lot of time. It’s not easy, but it is worth the effort.
How to Write a Church Mission Statement
When people think of church mission statements, there are usually two related but separate things they imagine. One is a mission statement, and one is a vision statement. The difference between these is that a mission statement is very practical in its scope. It focuses on what you will accomplish and how you will do it. A vision statement is designed to be more abstract. It focuses on the personality of the church and how God sees your local church fitting into the larger context of the global church.
The distinction is subtle, and many churches end up combining the two, but for the purposes of discussion we’ll just address the mission statement here.
SET PRACTICAL GOALS
The main purpose of a mission statement is to focus the efforts of your church on unified goals, so every ministry builds off the others and the effect expands. It’s like when you push your kid on the swing set. If you always push at the moment when they begin their swing forward, you can build more and more energy into the system and they go very high with minimal effort. But, if you push at random intervals, you usually cancel out most of your work.
If you want to unite your ministries’ efforts so they build off one another, you have to outline practical steps so there’s unity. It would be nice to eradicate poverty or preach the Gospel in the whole world, but there’s nothing there for your members to focus on. It’s too vague for a mission statement. You want to outline concrete steps, such as giving away groceries in the inner city. This is a practical step your members and ministries can focus on.
SET MEASURABLE GOALS
This is really just an extension of making your goals practical, but it’s so important that it deserves its own heading. If you don’t want your members to be burned out after years of pursuing the same mission, you need to give them some way of knowing their efforts make a difference. Using the above example, you might track how many boxes of food you’re able to provide year to year. As that number grows, your members see the progress.
And, be selective in your goals. Not every action is measurable. That doesn’t mean you can’t do things that can’t be measured, but you should either combine them with something measurable, or acknowledge that people can get burned out faster in that ministry and structure accordingly.
SET GOALS THAT GROW WITH YOU
You don’t want your mission statement changing every two years, so plan ahead. Find goals that can be practical and measurable, and never finished. Providing nutritious food in the inner city is a good example. When you start, you could do it just once a week, when you grow as a church you may find yourself with the funds to buy a five story building and set up a school and a grocery store and other things you can’t dream of starting now. But, even if New York, Rome, and Paris aren’t big enough to accommodate your ministry, the mission you set out for yourself still won’t be finished. You can always take it one step further and serve one more person. Goals like this are very practical, but will grow with you.
MAP EVERYTHING TO YOUR VISION STATEMENT AND VICE VERSA
Even though I started this chapter by trying to separate ways people approach their mission statement and their vision statement, I still argue that the two are linked. They may be separate, but they work together. That’s why you need to evaluate your mission statement in light of your vision statement. Remember, your vision statement is how you believe God sees your ministry. It describes the personality of the ministry. Your actions (represented by your mission statement) should grow out of your personality (represented by your vision statement).
As an example of this principle, let’s take Mark 10:45, which I like to think of as Jesus’ vision statement, and compare it to Luke 7:22, which I like to think of as Jesus’ mission statement. Granted, these labels are a bit arbitrary on my part, but I think most will agree that these verses fit the titles I’ve given them.
Jesus’ vision statement—Mark 10:45 “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Jesus’ mission statement—Luke 7:22 “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor.”
In the passage from Mark, you can see the focus is on defining Jesus’ personality and the way God sees Him and His ministry. The ideas are measurable, but not something others can go off and put into practice. It just defines who Jesus is and helps those under Him know what distinguishes His ministry from John the Baptist’s or Isaiah’s or anyone else’s. On the other hand, the passage from Luke is very action oriented. There isn’t much discussion of what Jesus’ personality is or what differentiates Him from others, but instead it tells those participating in His ministry where they should focus their efforts.
If you compare the mission statement to the vision statement, you can also see how everything from one supports the other.
Does telling John all these things come from a servant’s personality? Yes. John was in prison and understandably depressed. Telling him about Jesus’ miracles would encourage and serve him more than anything else could. This part of the verse can even be seen as a directive for the disciples to serve others by reporting the great things God is doing all over the world.
Does healing the blind, lame, lepers, and deaf serve others? Yes. It’s not just a nice way to serve somebody, but anyone who’s a doctor or has been on a medical mission trip can attest that healing people is so emotionally draining and the ill become so desperate for help that only someone with a heart to serve can hold up under the strain.
Does raising the dead respond to the view God has of Him? Yes. It is both a service to others and, if you think of spiritual death, it fulfills the goal of ransoming many.
Does preaching to the poor fulfill the servant personality? Yes. Again, it’s not just a nice thing to do, but by going to the people who can do nothing to repay you, who can provide for none of your needs, you could very well end up going hungry while working all day every day. This, too, can only grow out of a personality defined by service.
As you work on your own mission and vision statements, keep this unity of purpose in mind. Ask whether everything your mission statement says you’ll do stems from your personality as a church. Will your personality be fully expressed by the actions your mission statement has outlined? If not, add to the statement. Make sure all the actions you outline for yourself work toward the common goal outlined in your vision statement. And, keep your mission statement measurable, or your members will burn out for lack of seeing any progress.
Secrets to Serving your Generation in your Time:
Purpose-driven churches are led by purpose-driven leaders. I believe purpose-driven leaders balance God’s purposes – not only in their own lives – but also within the churches they lead.
One way to illustrate this is by telling you about my life verse, Acts 13:36, where we’re told David was purpose-driven: “David served God’s purpose in his own generation, then he died.” I cannot image a greater epitaph. Imagine having that statement inscribed on your tombstone: “He served God’s purpose in his own generation!” You could receive no greater honor than that in my opinion!
So how do you do that? He served God’s purpose.
God’s purpose for the Church is also his purpose for every Christian. As individual followers of Christ we are to use our lives in worship, ministry, evangelism, discipleship, and fellowship. The Church allows us to do it together. We are not alone in serving Him.
That’s why I love the Church with all of my heart. It’s the most brilliant concept ever created. It has outlasted cultures, governments, skeptics, enemies from within and without, and it will continue to do so until Jesus returns. We must love the Church as Christ does and we must teach others to love the Church also. “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her … After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church, for we are members of his body.” (Eph. 5:25, 29-30)
In his own generation:
The truth is you can’t serve God in any other generation except your own! You may want to – but it’s only wishful thinking. We cannot bring back the past. Ministry must always be done in the context of the current generation and culture. Whether we like it or not, we must minister to people in the culture as it really is – not in some past form that we may have idolized in our minds.
David’s ministry was both relevant and timely. He did it “in his generation.” He served God’s purpose – which is eternal and unchanging – in his generation, which was the contemporary context for him. He served the timeless in a timely way.
He was both orthodox and contemporary. He was both biblical and relevant.
We must be the same. We must be contemporary without compromising the truth. With every new generation, the rules change a little. If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll always be where we’ve always been. The past is behind us. We can only learn from the past, live in today and prepare for tomorrow.
How do you measure success in ministry?
One well-known definition of successful evangelism goes like this:
“Sharing the gospel in the power of the Holy Spirit and leaving the results to God.”
I’d like to adapt that statement and offer a definition of successful ministry: Successful ministry is Building the church on the purposes of God in the power of the Holy Spirit and EXPECTING the results from God.
I don’t know how the final chapters of AND-Mission’s story will be written but I am confident of this: “that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 1:6 NIV)
God finishes whatever he starts.
He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. God will continue to fulfill his purpose at AND-Mission and in every church that is purpose-driven.
Jesus said, “According to your faith it will be done to you.” (Matt. 9:29) This is what I call the “faith factor” in growing churches. There are many factors that influence your ministry that you had no control over: your background, nationality, age, giftedness. These were determined by the sovereignty of God.
But there is one important factor that you do have a control over: how much you choose to believe God! As I’ve studied growing churches for good years, I’ve discovered one great common denominator found in every growing church, regardless of denomination or location: leadership that is not afraid to believe God.
Growing churches are led by leaders who expect their congregation to grow.
They are people of faith who believe the promises of God, even in discouraging times. This is the secret behind everything that is being done at Vision Resource Centre. We have believed God for big miracles, and we’ve expected him to use us – by grace through faith. That is our choice. It’s your choice too.
Sometimes a church’s situation looks hopeless from a human standpoint. But I am firmly convinced – as Ezekiel’s experience (Ezekiel 37) proved – that no matter how dry the bones may be, God can breathe new life into them! Any church can come alive if we allow the Spirit to infuse us with a new sense of his purpose. That is what the purpose-driven church is all about.
My hope is that – by balancing the five purposes in your life and in your church – you will have your faith strengthened, your vision stretched, and your love for Christ and his Church deepened. Accept the challenge of leading a purpose-driven life as you lead your church to be purpose-driven!
I believe the greatest churches in history are yet to be built.
Are you available for that task? I pray that God will use you to fulfill his purposes in your generation. There is no greater use of your life.
Values of Local Church Discipline, Pt. 1
Believers become members of the universal, invisible Church the moment they are born again.
Richard Dresselhaus writes, “Membership in this Church is automatic. We believe every person who is born again becomes a member of that Church at the time of his or her salvation experience.
There are no membership cards to fill out as such. Your acceptance of Christ as Savior and Lord your commitment of your life to Him means you are a member of His church, born into the family of God.” That salvation experience must never be equated with the act of joining a church. To join a church without being born again leads to the deception that one is a Christian when he is not.
The Lord has planted local churches on earth, however, to serve as a means through which He ministers grace to believers who belong to the universal Church. Christ, the Head of that universal Church, provides guidance, instruction, and strength to the members of His body through apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers whom He has set in the local church (Ephesians 4:11-16).
The believer who identifies with and regularly attends a local assembly receives things from the Lord in a way that would be most difficult, if not impossible, should he or she always worship alone. As John Schaver writes, “It is good for the individual Christian to be a member of the worshiping, nurturing, caring, sharing community we refer to as a Christian congregation. Christians are called to live in communities−not hermits.”
The Bible affords guidelines on membership in the local church.
Formal membership in local congregations has been a part of the life of believers since the beginnings of Christianity, and both congregations and individuals receive significant benefits from the practice. Evidence indicates that membership in the local church of the first century was formal in nature, with names recorded on an official roster.
By establishing a list of members in this way, the local church was continuing a custom that most of them had already followed in the synagogue. Membership in the synagogue began at an early age for the Jewish lad. Edward Marshall writes, “The membership in the synagogue began when the boys reached thirteen years of age at which time each by initiation became a ‘Bar-Mitzvah,’ a ‘son of commandment.’ He then became responsi¬ble to the law himself.”
It seems logical to conclude that synagogue officials recorded the names of members on a formal list. Membership must have been formal since each synagogue practiced a strict form of discipline, and experi¬ence teaches that such is difficult or impossible without formal member¬ship. Expulsion from membership is the most severe form of punishment for offenders in any religious body. Since, logically speaking, a group cannot take away what it has not first given, one must have been granted formal mem¬bership, or the threat of its removal would have no meaning in discipline.
Since what they had experienced in the synagogue worked well, wisdom dictated that early believers follow a similar pattern in Christian group structure.
Continuing experiences gave them additional good reason for organizing themselves. For example, Edwin Hatch declares that believers who traveled in the first century needed proof of church membership in order to obtain the much-needed hospitality of fellow Christians along the way. To curb abuses of such hospitality, Hatch says, “A rule was adopted that al¬though the bodily necessi¬ties of travelers might continue to be relieved, no one should be admitted to hospitality, in a fuller sense of earlier times, without a certificate of membership from his own community.”
Evidence of formal membership, for both synagogue and church, appears in Scrip¬ture.
Offending members of a synagogue were formally dismissed from membership. John makes clear reference to this procedure in his account of the healing of the man born blind. He explains, “His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue” (John 9:22). John refers to it again later, declaring that sympa¬thetic Pharisees feared to identify themselves as followers of Jesus for the same reason (John 12:42). This punishment included the removal of the name of the disciplined individual from the membership list. Jesus referred to the practice when He warned His disciples that synagogue leaders would “cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake” (Luke 6:22).
In a similar way, local Christian churches of New Testament times disciplined members, sometimes removing their names from the roll of the assembly. This is what Paul had in mind when he instructed the Corinthians to “put away from yourselves the evil person” (1 Cor. 5:13). Such disciplinary procedures require formal membership in the church. Even those congregations that declare themselves “free” from the bondage of any organizational structure have a way of determining who their members are. For example, they would not allow sinners or members of a cult to have a voice in their business meetings. Only those recognized as members may vote in making congregational decisions or electing officers. To practice the discipline of the New Testament church requires a formal membership.
Carl Laney declares, “Obviously it is not technically possible to excommunicate one who is not a church member.”
Of course, any Christian may offer brotherly counsel to a fellow believer. He or she may confront the fellow believer about observed sins in the latter’s life, warning of eternal consequences. To follow the biblical steps of disciplinary procedure fully, however, requires that the person being disciplined officially belong to a body of believers.
The most powerful tool in organizational discipline is the threat of expulsion from membership. Obviously, it cannot be used in the case of those who do not belong to a church. Edward Carnell recognizes the necessity of formal church membership in order to facilitate church discipline. Looking at the truth from another angle, Lynn Buzzard and Thomas Brandon write, “Church discipline tells us that membership means something. It says that membership is commitment. It teaches that membership is participation in a community with shared values and common, mutual obligations. It informs us of the obligation of membership to spiritual responsibility.”
Apart from scriptural evidence linking formal church membership with discipline and responsibility, experience provides additional logical reasons why every believer should seek to have his or her name recorded on the roster of a local congregation. Having a formal membership is necessary to the very life of a church–no members, no church. Thus, the minister who accepts the call to pastor a congregation comes under ethical responsibil¬ity to promote membership for the group actively.
To own property, to secure the services of public utilities, and to borrow money require a legal organization with a formal membership. Business and government institutions relate to groups only as groups, rather than to their individual members. If all Christians took the position of some who want no responsibility in joining the church, there would be no facilities in which to gather for worship.
Pentecostals traditionally have given little emphasis to local church membership. As members of a revival movement, they feared equating church membership with salvation. Their resistance to that threat made them appear to be opposed to joining the church. Consequently, membership in their churches is often but a fraction of their average attendance. William Menzies speaks of a “propensity of Assemblies of God people to disregard church membership, membership figures always being much smaller than active participants, contrary to the pattern of many denominations.”Indeed, churches of old line denominations tend to experience the opposite. Their membership is noticeably larger than their attendance. Seeing this as undesirable, Davis Huckabee remarks, “There is something gravely wrong with a church which has a much greater proportion of enrolled members than attending members;”He counsels that such a problem needs correction.
In contrast, Pentecostals have a problem with low percentages of constituency in formal membership. Since having a list of formal members is necessary to the very life of the church, the pastor of a congregation has a responsibility to promote membership. The pastor’s concern must be to keep the church alive and healthy. He or she is ethically bound to work to that end in the ministry. When a minister accepts a church’s call to be its shepherd, one of the duties he or she takes on is that of encouraging new members to join the church, as well as doing everything possible to retain those who already belong.
Some pastors do this through offering a membership class as an elective in Sunday school. Terry Raburn reports a more indirect approach by one minister who gives that group the title of the New Friends Class. He does so in the hope that a bonding takes place there. If that happens, those attending will more readily desire formal membership in the church. Raburn suggests a three-step process for integrating new people into the church. He writes, “It becomes evident that a careful process of developing new people produces superior members. First, contact is made (attraction), then involvement (building), and finally leadership is produced (commissioning).”Raburn stresses the importance of getting new people involved in Christian service as soon as possible after they join the church in order to strengthen their ties to the body of believers.
It is to a church’s advantage, and often to an entire denomination’s advantage, in a number of circumstances for its attendees to be formal members.
For example, a congregation attempting to borrow money needs to be able to show the lending institution a healthy membership roster. Also, when a denomination has a low formal membership but much higher attendance at its churches, the government gets a false picture of the denomination’s size and strength as it compares to the nation’s population as a whole. Thus, if a church or a denomination desires to be healthy and influential, it needs a strong membership.
What benefits does formal church membership have for the individual, or as people of today might put it, “What’s in it for me?”
James Hinkle and Tim Woodroof take note of the fact that the present generation has been taught to think of everything primarily as it relates to self. They observe that “the Church is faced with teaching the ‘me’ generation how to think in ‘we’ terms.
People born and reared in a culture that worships individualism must now learn how to behave in a group−the Church.”They note further, “Depen¬den¬cy, we have learned, is weakness; submission is demeaning.”Such attitudes obviously run cross-grain to those of true Christianity.
Nonetheless, being a formal member of a church does provide personal blessing. It brings a sense of belonging in place of the persistent feeling that one is an outsider. Joining a church opens the door for Christian service since wisdom dictates that many positions of leadership in a congregation must remain closed to those lacking the commitment necessary to identify as members. Dresselhaus, a noted pastor, says, “It seems best to me that individuals be chosen for leadership positions when they have demonstrated their commitment to the church through church membership.”
Being a formal member of a church also serves one well in providing a helpful sense of accountability. Of course, all will answer to God one day for their conduct on earth. The thought of being judged by God in a faraway heaven in the sweet by and by, however, can leave a person with a false sense of getting by with misconduct in the present. As the wise man of old said, “Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil” (Ecclesiastes 8:11).
Knowing that one may have to give account to men in the here and now often stirs a person to resist temptation. As Laney says, “Every Christian ought to be a member of a local church where he can be under the oversight and spiritual watch care of church elders.”
Clearly then, the Bible affords guidelines for membership in the local church. Formal membership in local churches was a part of the life of early believers. In addition, both logic and experience argue in favor of the practice. Through formal church membership, both congregations and individuals receive important benefits. Thus, for the sake of the church as well as themselves, any who have not yet joined a local church should immediately take steps to do so.
Values of Local Church Discipline, Pt. 2
Scripture offers ample evidence to conclude that discipline is valuable for the life of both the congregation and its individual members. Particularly, Jesus and Paul stress that fact. In his writings Paul offers instructions on the discipline of members in a local church as well as that of ministers of the gospel.