Almost 2,000 years ago Jesus Christ commissioned a small group of disciples to build his church by making disciples. This included expanding the Kingdom of God by showing love, offering forgiveness, and providing hope to all who seek it. He said:
“19 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, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 NIV
For the past sixteen years our purpose statement has been as follows: “Freshwater exists to help REACH non-believing individuals, to CONNECT them with other Christians, to help them GROW in their faith, DISCOVER their ministry, and HONOR God with their life.” Our purpose is clear. We print it on our programs every week, it’s on the central walls of each campus, it’s on our web site, and we reference it over and over because we want to stay laser focused on making disciples.
Although this statement is good, we have slightly changed the wording to better reflect our commitment to serving. Our new purpose statement reads:
“Freshwater exists to help REACH non-believing individuals, CONNECT them with other Christians, help them to GROW in their faith, challenge the growing to SERVE others, and HONOR God with their life.”
Why do we need a clear purpose statement? Pastor Rick Warren, in his bestselling book The Purpose Driven Church, states that churches need a clear purpose because it helps them do three things.
1. A clear purpose builds morale.Morale and mission always go together. People working together for a great purpose don’t have time to argue over trivial issues. I believe that if you are helping row the boat you won’t have time to rock it. During the course of my four-year military career I served in three places, Grand Forks North Dakota, Bitburg Germany, and Turkey and Iraq during the war. In North Dakota I had to wear my dress blue uniform every day. My pants had to be ironed, my shirt had to be impeccable, my boots had to have a mirror shine, and my superiors were constantly nagging us about how we looked and how we stood and how white our shirts were. Every day before we went to work they inspected us to see if we looked good enough to stand out in public. Then when I went to Germany, we wore our fatigues every day. They still wanted us to iron our pants and shirts and polish our boots but they never really nagged us about it. Then when I was sent to war nobody cared what you wore. You could wear the same pants everyday and nobody polished their boots. We didn’t have time because we were fighting a real war with real threats and all of us were fighting on the same team with a common cause. Our appearance took a back seat to our mission. I think the same is true at church. If we are in the trenches preaching hope to people we are less likely to argue over unimportant matters.
2. A clear purpose attracts cooperation.
People want to be a part of a church that knows where it is going and we know where we are going. We are committed to helping families reconcile, helping people to get off drugs and alcohol, feeding the poor and clothing the homeless. We are also committed to helping people grow in their faith every step of the way from beginning a relationship with Christ to living a Christ centered life.
3. A clear purpose assists evaluation.
By clearly stating our purpose we can use it to evaluate how we are doing. We constantly ask questions like: Are we reaching people for Christ? Are we connecting people? Are we helping people to grow in their faith? Are we helping people to discover their spiritual gifts to serve others? Are we showing people how to honor God with their life?
Last year over 147 people made first time commitments to Christ. We had even more recommit their lives to Christ. We baptized dozens of people and helped connect hundreds more in small groups. Every week we talk about personal transformation to help people connect with Christ on a deeper level. We measure these things and evaluate them because it’s central to what we do and critical to fulfilling out part in the great commission. Our Board of Elders is continually filtering everything that we do through our purpose statement. They do this so that we can stay focused on fulfilling Jesus great commission and not get sidetracked.
But a church is not just a building. A building is where the church meets. You and I are the church, so if we want to fulfill our purpose I need to ask you if you are in it to win it. Are you committed to being Jesus disciple and making more disciples? What does our purpose statement mean to you?
What does this purpose statement mean for you?
REACH: Who am I trying to reach for Christ?
At any given time you and I should be praying for our friends and family that don’t have a personal relationship with Christ. We need to reach them with the gospel. We live in a day and age when people are more spiritual then ever but they are also spiritually confused, lost, or looking for something satisfying. I talk to people all the time who are deeply spiritual but have no idea that Jesus Christ died for them on the cross and that he loves them and forgives them for their sins. Believers are called to share the Gospel with people in our spheres of influence because people are thirsty for spiritual truth. I challenge you to invite others to Freshwater so they can experience authentic faith.
CONNECT: Who is my small group of believers?
Who are you connected to? Are you in a small group? Are you discipling anyone or being discipled? Get connected with people who want to grow in their faith just like you. Christianity is not a solo sport, God wired us to be in relationship with one another.
GROW: What am I doing to grow my faith?
Spiritual growth is an intentional process. If you don’t intentionally grow your faith you will develop spiritual atrophy. I can’t even tell you how many conversations I have with people who do absolutely nothing to grow in their faith then wonder why they have not grown. What have you done to take responsibility for your own spiritual growth? Do you read the bible? Are you in a small group? Are you disciplining someone? These are the catalysts that will help you to grow. Don’t just be a consumer, be a spiritual growth catalyst yourself.
SERVE: Where is my place of service?
We are a volunteer organization and expect people to minister to others by serving. I am always amazed at the talented people who volunteer to make a difference in other people’s lives. When we serve others we are changed because we get to be the hands and feet of Christ. But this will never happen unless you figure out how God has gifted you then make the choice to use those gifts for the greater good.
HONOR: How does my life honor Christ?
This is what it all comes down to. Does your life honor Christ? Are you a good role model for other people to follow? Look at your own life. Hold the mirror up and ask yourself if you are honoring Christ with your life. If you want to make disciples then you and I need to be a disciple first.
We are committed to our fulfilling our purpose! It’s going to be messy because we choose to love people where they are at. I am asking you to partner with me in fulfilling our purpose because what we do matters. Fulfilling our purpose is really a matter of heaven and hell. It’s a matter of helping people and families and shining the light of Christ as bright as possible wherever we can. This is a rally cry to be the church, to be the body of Christ, to fulfill the great commission and raise the spiritual climate of our communities. At Freshwater we are going to continue to relentlessly pursue our purpose because it’s that important. Thank you for using your gifts and talents for the glory of God.