I often search the internet looking at examples of web sites various churches keep to get ideas on how to make the web sites I maintain better. I see some things I like but there are many things I see which disturb me greatly. One thing which I often see on many church web sites is a “mission statement.” But it is curious to me that a congregation would need to develop their own modern mission statement or a “vision,” and these are often quite broad in scope and complex, when the Lord has given us a very complete and concise “mission statement” already:
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen (Matthew 28:18-20).
And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned (Mark 16:15-16).
Jesus was clear. The mission of the church, as He delivered it to the apostles, was to “go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” This is simple, direct, clear and concise. But what do many mission statements of modern “churches of Christ” say? Let’s look at one example of a “mission statement” that was the first I came across just randomly searching for “mission statements” (but it is not alone in either it’s content or thrust).
“The [name withheld] Church of Christ is a body of Christ-centered believers who submit to God’s word through faithful living and works of service, empowered by His Spirit to become a marriage- and family-friendly community of faith which embraces the blessings of our God-given diversity.”
What is this? Whatever it is, this is not the great commission! What this is is a piece of politically correct mumbo-jumbo designed to confuse people about the purpose of the Lord’s church. What is a “Christ-centered believer?” This is nothing but warmed-over, liberal denominational terminology. Scripturally, the church is the saved (Acts 2:47). Whatever happened to the time tested, biblical principle of calling Bible things by Bible names and doing Bible things in Bible ways (I Pet. 4:11)?
Is the purpose of the church to “submit to God’s word through faithful living and service?” It is not the purpose of the church to submit to God’s word, that is the nature of the church. Those who have obeyed the gospel have already submitted to God’s word by believing, repenting, confessing and being baptized (Rom. 6:16-19).
The notion of service also gets abused. Yes, we are servants of the Lord. The word “servant” used in the New Testament is the word for a bond-servant. A slave. As Christians we are His servants and must please Him, not men. Paul said, “If I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ” (Gal. 1:10). But too many see themselves as the servants of men first and of God last. These make an industry out of “service.” I will have more to say about this in a later post.
The errors encompassed in the statement “empowered by His Spirit” are too many to answer in this short post. Let it suffice to say that the Spirit works through His revealed word (Eph. 6:17). And while that revealed word teaches us about God’s design for marriage and the family, the Holy Spirit does not “empower” us to be “marriage- and family-friendly.” That is a choice we make, just like everything else we do.
The expression “community of faith” in the above “mission statement” is foreign to the scriptures. You cannot find it in God’s word. God’s people are the “called out,” the church. The church is the “house of God” (I Tim. 3:15). The English word “church” comes from the Greek word “kyriake (oikia), kyriakon doma ‘Lord’s (house).'” Jesus didn’t say “Upon this rock I will build My community” but “I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18). Such expressions as “community of faith” are more at home in socialism and liberalism than they are in the Lord’s house.
Finally, the idea that the Lord’s church was created to “embrace diversity” is simply another effort at using modern social issues to alter the nature and purpose of the Lord’s church. We all are to be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom. 8:29). We are to have the same mind and the same judgement (I Cor. 1:10). The mind that was in Christ Jesus is to be in us (Phil. 2:5-8). Instead of focusing on and “embracing diversity,” the Lord tells us to focus on and be conformed to the truth (John 17:17-21).
All attempts at developing modern “mission statements” by churches of Christ, or statements expressing their “vision,” are against the genius of New Testament Christianity. I know our society presses us to be conformed to the religious world around us and focus on issues that tantalize and fascinate. But let us, as New Testament Christians, reject all such exotic missions. Let us insist on going back to the New Testament for our faith and practice. Let us insist on speaking where the Bible speaks and being silent where the Bible is silent and calling Bible things by Bible names and doing Bible things in Bible ways.
Why should we, as Christians–disciples of Christ–want anything more than His Great Commission: Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, he that believeth not shall be damned.
Eric L. Padgett