A couple of weeks ago Becky and I attended a Friday night meeting at church where the church leadership discussed their notional new mission statement for the church. While this statement is still a draft, and has yet to be presented to the full congregation, with the pastors’ permission I want to explore the new statement in some detail and explain why I’m very much in favor of it.
First, the statement:
“The mission of Stonebridge Church is to walk alongside each person we meet as they take their next step with Jesus.”
Let’s look at some key phrases.
- “to walk alongside”. I am more and more convinced that this is the posture that we as Christians should take with all those that we encounter. We are not enemies in opposition of those who don’t believe the way we do; we are not self-righteous, hypocritical mockers of those whose sin is more obvious; we are not insulated saints who retreat to the comfortable hidey-hole where everything is “safe”. Instead, we are right there alongside people, where they are. We have an arm around their shoulders and we are speaking words of love and encouragement. We need to be alongside both the lost and the found, among the rebellious and the repentant alike.
- “each person we meet”. This phrase reminds us that our calling isn’t limited to the church but is as expansive as each person that God places in our path. The heart of the believer is to be outwardly-focused, and a heart filled with the love of God will overflow into each one they meet.
- “as they take their next step”. This recognizes that all of us, believers or not, are still in progress, taking one step at a time. It reminds us to be gracious with each person we encounter, because they are on a journey just like we are, even if they’re at a different point. And it reinforces the message of 1 Corinthians 3:5 – 8: that we may each play a different role in God’s work to bring someone to Himself. Whether we plant the seed or water the seed or see the seed blossom into flower, it is God providing the growth, and we are reminded not to be discouraged if our work doesn’t create instant results.
- “with Jesus.” And this brings us back to the ultimate object of our lives in service to others: to bring them to, and encourage them with, Jesus. Whatever work God calls us to do, it is done out of love for Jesus, in the name of Jesus, and for the glory of Jesus. Whether you are serving on the stage or behind the scenes, publicly proclaiming Christ in the midst of a crowd or quietly sharing with a friend or co-worker, working for justice in a far-off country or just caring for the weak and needy person on your street, you do it for Jesus. God has given diverse roles and functions, but puts us all together in one body, and says that it is the body of Christ (1 Cor 12).
I feel like this mission statement does a good job of capturing the essential direction of ministry that we’re already on at Stonebridge, and I hope that as it is further refined and rolled out it will encourage each of us to be constantly mindful of being alongside those that we encounter every day.