Purpose, Mission and Vision

I’ll be starting the devotions on Hebrews tomorrow, but wanted to add this about the church and vision.

The other day I was with a few Christians interested in the local church. Somehow, we got into the topic of vision and a vision or mission statement. This discussion prompted me to give my views on this topic. I have discussed church vision in great length in the book I just finished, “Hurdling the Barriers – Overcoming the largest barriers to church health.”

It is my opinion that churches often muddy up the concept of purpose, mission and vision when trying to combine all three thoughts into one statement. In doing so, some will omit the purpose of the church, the mission of the church and very often do not actually establish a vision.

The discussion I had regarding church vision revolved around the content of a mission statement. The question asked was, “Isn’t the church’s mission to glorify God?” The following are my thoughts on this.

Purpose Statement – I see the ultimate purpose of the church as that of bringing glory to God. The very first question of the Westminster Shorter Catechism is, “What is the chief end of man?” The answer is, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.” This was the very first in the list because glorifying God is the number one priority in everything.

Paul wrote, “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36, ESV) Also, “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20–21, KJV 1900)

Since it is the highest purpose in everything, it also is the highest purpose of the church. “Unto him be glory in the church.” The church’s primary purpose is to glorify God.

Mission Statement – In my book, I mention that the church already has a mission, “The Great Commission,” (Matthew 28:18-20), and I see no need to change it. Perhaps one might choose to reword it in order to clarify its main point. However, the mission the Lord gave the church is quite clear, if we properly exegete the text.

Vision of the Local Church – In the book I explain that a vision statement is not a vision. Every church should have a unique, specific and distinctive vision that shows how the church will accomplish the overall purpose of the church and its mission in its unique context. This is based upon the church’s unique internal makeup and its local mission field. The vision of the church will be forward looking. It will be sufficiently detailed to communicate the specific way the church will accomplish the purpose and mission. In the local church spiritual people will be able to develop it through much prayer and the leadership of the Holy Spirit.

Vision Statement – Once the vision is determined by the church, the vision statement is fairly easy. It is a concise and memorable statement that summarizes the heart of the vision.

There are four basic things that the church must consider in this process of developing and communicating vision. First is the purpose of the church, which is to glorify God. Second, is the mission of the church, which is to make disciples that make disciples. Third, is a comprehensive vision that considers the specific way in which the local church will fulfill the its purpose and mission in its specific context. Last, the vision statement, which is a concise and memorable expression that summarizes the heart of the vision.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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