Mission, ministry, media and money
This comes first. The mission of the Church is joining in with the mission of God, but that is Church with a big C, the universal church. How a local church, para-church group or individual church fits in with God’s plan can, and does, vary greatly.
God’s mission is to bring all flesh to him, that is everybody without exception. It is our mission to do this,
It could be by evangelism,
Or social – bringing aid to the starving,
Or political – asking why the people are starving,
Or fighting for those who are persecuted,
Or welcoming the refugee.
All these are shown clearly as to how God wants people to behave. We have to find our place in this.
Mission and vision
In commerce businesses often have a mission statement and a vision statement. The mission statement is about where they are and the vision statement is where they want to be. These are often combined. In the TV show Dragons Den, candidates will always be asked where they are and where they see themselves going if it has not been said in the opening pitch.
For Christians, our vision should not be about where we want things to go, although there is nothing wrong with drive and ambition. Our vision should be from God. When we talk about our mission we are talking not talking about where we are in a business we are talking about others, who are mission is for, who we are reaching to, whether that be in evangelism or in going out in care.
There is a confusion here, some churches talk as if mission and ministry are the same thing as each other. They are not, but they are connected. The big difference is that our mission is the work of God, ministry is the work of the church.
There is nothing wrong with having ministries, please keep doing these things, but the things we do, our particular style of worship, bible study groups, lunch clubs for the lonely and elderly, these are all worthy things. As I said, keep doing them. But these are not all that a church is called to do or to be. Churches focus a lot of their time trying to bring people to where the church is rather than the church going out to serve the people where they are. In some instances the ministries can get in the way of the mission, times change, the way you did things in the 1970s was to a different generation, 21st-century people may have different needs. The people’s job is not to become like us, our job is to serve them. Who is God calling me to serve?
I know that your love for me is not greater than that for others near me who do not yet know you.
Give me your love for these, so that I might serve them as you would serve them.
Show me who you would want me to serve.
Media is not necessarily the use of computers, although the way some speak you would think it is. The media question for churches is: “How are the people we are trying to reach used to getting their information?
Media does not have to be modern. Publicising a meal to those who are not computer literate by email is not the cleverest way to go about things. It all depends on who you are communicating with. Sometimes a personal invitation is the media savvy way to go.
Jesus had no computers, TVs, radios or printing presses.
To some he told stories, he gave a lot of his teaching in parables.
To some people he gave straight practical teaching such as the sermon on the mount.
At other times the teaching style was to use the apocalyptic style, a non-literal form that was common back then.
Or to teach by action and example, such as when he washed his disciples’ feet.
John’s Gospel showed that Jesus’ miracles were signs, teaching, about the kingdom of God.
Be like Jesus. Do not give all your teaching and adverts in one way, tailor them to how those you are communicating with would receive their information. Facebook, Twitter, What’s App groups and other media are good ways of getting free (well advert paid) contact. A church website has to be to a good enough to draw people in, paying money that puts people off is not a good ministry. Nor is a long website name or Facebook name that people will have to type in. Make yourselves easy to find. The internet is good for those who have it. In using media, whether it is the internet, adverts in papers or screens and PA systems are only any good if they help the church with its mission and ministry.
There is the problem of cost, both in time and money. Time does not start with M so did not make the title.
It is really about stewardship of resources. To summarise:
- Mission: What is God calling me/us to do?
- Ministry: How can I/we do this?
- Media: How can I best communicate this?
- Money: What resources have I got?
A big resource could be old people. People no longer working are able to afford the time to help churches, as long as they are fit enough to do so. Money depends on the congregation. A family bringing up children on a small wage does not have any spare cash, and probably not much time either. Those with spare money can be working very long hours.
God does not want you to go bankrupt nor to burn up by being too busy. If God wants you to go through with a project he will provide both the cash and the people to do it. God is not short of money. He has it in abundance in the pockets and bank accounts of his followers. If God wants you to do something he will provide everything to see it through. It will not be easy, but if we are faithful he provides.