I shudder to think how many corporate man- and woman-hours have been spent on developing and refining “mission statements.”
Ubiquitous mission statements–espoused by everything from Fortune 500 companies to the Girl Scouts, and extending to many churches–lead to the question are these statements making a difference in how the institutions and organizations operate?
We are reminded often of the need to tie projects and activities to the mission statement, but this exercise can be just that—an exercise. Just about anything can be “tied,” if one tries hard enough.
But what of mission itself, in contradistinction to the mission statement? I’d say it’s more important to have a mission and to be operative within that mission, than to have a mission statement, wouldn’t you? (And I’d also say it’s more important to pray than to say “I’ll pray for you,” but that’s another story.) The so-called emerging, or emergent, church likes to think of itself, if indeed it really is an “it,” as missional. I think the loosely defined groups of emergent leaders, churches, and philosophies, and practices may be more missional than the rest of Christendom, but that’s not because they have mission statements.
I heard a sermon on the so-called Great Commission recently. It’s been a while, and while I appreciate that this came up naturally in a stroll through Matthew’s gospel, I perceive a misdirected tie of the Great Commission to Christians in this age. I’ve heard Matthew 28:19-20 referred to as Christian “marching orders.” Where do we get this, and what do we make of it? It does identify us as an “army” of Christians, as it were, and God as Commander-in-Chief. That part is wholly appropriate. But I’d like to investigate this assumption a little, and I think I will.
In the meantime, I want to propose that “ambassador” or “representative” or “member of the ‘new incarnation’ of Jesus’ Body” are apt descriptors for the Christ-ian believer’s advocacy of cause and “mission” to people in this day and age. More apt, even, than the mission articulated to the eleven soon-to-be-evangelists, in the so-called “Great Commission.”