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Keeping Our Eyes on the Mission

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age” (Mt. 28:19-20, NIV).

Almost every church starts with the same mission: reach new people for Jesus. Sounds pretty obvious, right? But as our church grows, it can be easy to lose focus on this mission. We begin to cater to the people already inside the walls of our church rather than focusing on those far from God.


Once this shift occurs, our church is headed toward decline. But even more than that, we’re drifting from the mission that God has called us to.

Almost every church starts with the same mission: reach new people for Jesus. Sounds pretty obvious, right? But as our church grows, it can be easy to lose focus on this mission. We begin to cater to the people already inside the walls of our church rather than focusing on those far from God.


Once this shift occurs, our church is headed toward decline. But even more than that, we’re drifting from the mission that God has called us to.

The People Behind the Mission One of the best ways we can keep our eyes on the mission is by seeing our mission field as a group of people, not a location or city.

We’re all likely familiar with the story of the ninety-nine sheep in Matthew 18: “What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off?” (Matthew 18:12, NIV). Seeing our mission field as a group of people, or a specific person, helps us maintain focus and perspective.


If I told you there were 100 lost people in your town, your heart would likely be moved, but the need might seem overwhelming. But what if I told you there was one lost person in your neighborhood? Narrowing our mission field helps us to take ownership of the mission and spurs us to action.

The Culture Behind the Mission


An outward-focused culture is a mission-focused culture. But no single person can accomplish the mission alone—we all have a unique part to play. Once we’ve clarified who we are called to reach, it’s vital that we get the whole church moving in this same direction. To maintain an external focus, our leaders, staff, volunteers, and congregants have to embrace this fundamental idea: my church is for me, but it’s not all about me.


We want to see our congregation winning in relationships. We want to help them to grow as disciples. We’re for them and we’re for their families. But we also want them to embrace the belief that our church doesn’t exist to be all about them. When we’re focused on reaching outward and making disciples, our filter isn’t simply what is going to make people happy. Yes, our church is called to disciple those inside our walls, but our real mission is to reach those outside of them.

The Focus Behind the Mission

What are the things we should be focusing on? What things are simply distractions? While a lot of things may be helpful, or even good, it doesn’t mean that they’re aligned to your mission. Getting clarity around our mission and mission field will likely require us to make some hard decisions.


If we can get our leaders and staff clear on our mission and on our mission field, our priorities become clear. Ministry requests, programs, and events that may be “good ideas” can be identified as distractions from the true mission. Clarity around the scope of your mission and your mission field will help you to distinguish not only what is helpful, but what is best aligned to achieve your unique mission.


If we want to keep our eyes on the mission to which God has called us and reach the lost for Christ, we need to identify and personalize our mission field, develop an outward-focused culture, and maintain clarity around our priorities.

 

Prayer:


Lord, help us to die daily to ourselves and to our desires. Empower us in our mission to serve others and bring them closer to you. Amen.

 

Michael Moore is a Ministry Consultant with The Unstuck Group and serves as Executive Pastor at Faith Chapel Christian Center, a non-denominational church in Birmingham, AL. In full-time ministry since 2006, Michael has served on senior leadership teams in multiple capacities including strategic, operational, and financial roles. He is passionate about helping local churches maximize their impact and potential.

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