There I was, up with the rising winter sun on a frigid Saskatchewan morning, thinking about how to transform our church’s lengthy mission statement into a concise, snappy declaration. Our church was seeking a mission statement that would capture our primary motivation for ministry in one brief, precise maxim. Such a task would not be easy considering the variety of passions within the church body.
In 2000, we had fashioned our present mission statement. It mirrored the heart of what we felt to be our calling and purpose as a community of faith in Regina.
What we learned some time later, however, was that our mission statement, although well articulated and biblically sound, was too long to be remembered and too cumbersome to be passed on by the average person in the pew. We needed a declaration of purpose which was easy to catch, carry and communicate.
Hence, there I sat at my desk, reflecting on possibilities for such a phrase when I began wondering what other MB churches had as their mission statements.
I fired up my computer, got on the Internet highway and began surfing Canadian MB church Web sites. What I discovered in reading the numerous mission statements was a wonderful collage of diversity and harmony. The diversity surfaced in the variety of wordings each church used to express its unique ministry focus. The harmony came through three themes found in the majority of the mission statements: the centrality of Jesus Christ, the call to make disciples and the church as a place of fellowship.
The following are a sampling:
“Inspiring people to passionately love and serve Jesus.”
“Helping unchurched and unconnected people become passionate followers of Christ.”
“To introduce people to Jesus Christ and to challenge all to increase in love and obedience to Him.”
“Committed to building meaningful relationships with God and with others.”
“To lead people to Jesus Christ and guide them in whole-hearted devotion to Him.”
“Making more and better disciples.”
“Making disciples who exalt God, practice fellowship, serve others and proclaim Jesus.”
I realize that these mission statements are just a drop in the MB “ocean”, but if these declarations of why we do church are any indication of our collective vision, I praise God. I also believe our Anabaptist and MB foreparents are sounding a humble “Amen” from their heavenly vantage point-for it was our predecessors in the faith who often suffered much persecution for their conviction that church should be about announcing Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, discipleship (following Christ) and fellowship. In some form, all of these cherished values seem woven into the fabric of the 21st-century mission statements I read.
I was glad I took the time to surf the Web site waters of fellow Mennonite Brethren. This electronic journey inspired me to once again be thankful for having the privilege of making disciples for Jesus Christ in the MB fellowship.
—Philip A. Gunther is a senior pastor of Parliament Community Church in Regina.