The mission of the church never changes, though during the 26 years since I entered the ministry, church leaders have struggled to define how we accomplish it. Google 1,000 church websites and you’ll likely find 990 vision statements or lists of core values.
We’re all trying to apply the gospel to a specific ministry context, and it changes rapidly.
This month Jo Anne Lyon, the newly elected general superintendent of The Wesleyan Church, in which I serve, unveiled seven key values (or emphases) that she believes will move the church into the future.
Lists like these tend to have a short shelf-life because the context changes continually. But I think these emphases are timely. They fit my personal mission, to know Christ and make him known, and will serve any church well for the next several years. Here they are in bold with a comment or two of my own.
1. Christian leaders leading authentic Christian lives. Now, perhaps more than ever, integrity matters. You need to be the message.
2. Believers filled with the Holy Spirit. Where’s the power? This is the question many people are asking about the church. What difference does your faith make? Where’s the life change? More than intellectual defenses of the faith (though not in place of them) we need the power of the Holy Spirit.
3. Ethnic diversity. I live in a predominately White suburb, but the minority population here has doubled in the last 10 years. Numbers are similar elsewhere. To reach our communities, we must reach people are different from us.
4. Urban urgency. Most people live in urban areas, and the percentage is growing. Cities are where the action is.
5. Church health. By now everyone has figured out that church growth without church health is like faith without works.
6. Church planting. We need not only more but also more churches. Multiple services, venues, new campuses, daughter churches—think about how to add congregations, not just converts.
7. Prayer. This focus should probably be listed first, because it is foundational. Without prayer, we can’t hope to succeed in a spiritual ministry.
I don’t know that these need to be the exact emphases of your church right now, but you must focus on something. We all have to put legs on the Great Commission. If you choose not to adopt these emphases, what will be your focus?
Which of these values is most important for your church right now?