Discovering Membership Part 2: Vision, Mission and Values
Welcome to our Discovering Membership course!
The purpose of this course is to get our EBC community reflecting on whether membership may be appropriate for them. To do that, there are a few things that we need to understand about what church is supposed to be about in the first place. We’ll then get on to how we at EBC express that in our particular way of doing things, and finally talk about membership itself – what sets it apart from simply belonging to the church, what indications to look for (that membership might be for you), and the significance of membership in our church’s life.
As a recap on this, please take a few minutes to look at our introductory blog and Part One (see previous blogs, below).
In this second section, we take a look at Vision, Mission and Values.
To start things off let’s just clarify what the differences are between vision, mission and values. Sometimes it can get confusing when people and organisations talk about vision, and mission and values… and that may be true for EBC. We hear about Vision Statements and Mission Statements and Values… but what does it all mean and how does it hang together? Hopefully we can clarify that a bit here.
Simply put, a Mission is the thing we’re setting out to do, whereas a Vision is what things will look like if we complete the mission successfully. Our Values are simply the things we hold true to along the way. That’s the easy way to explain it, but actually that puts it a little bit the wrong way round – because it’s the Vision - of what we want the future to look like - that determines and drives the mission. So really it should look like this –
• Vision – what we want things to look like
• Mission – what we have to do to get there
• Values – what we abide by along the way
In Matthew’s account of Jesus’s life, we find Jesus telling His disciples about His vision for the church when He said “I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.” (Matthew 16:18, NLT)
Jesus told Simon Peter and the other disciples that He would build His church and all the forces of hell wouldn’t be able to stand against it. That is His vision!
So what’s our part in that? Our vision at EBC is of a church that people who don’t “do church” love to be a part of. Indeed, a church that everyone loves to be a part of! This is very much a vision of both numerical and spiritual growth. Numerical growth as more and more people join in with what we do here, and spiritual growth as we grow together to become more loving of God, more loving of people and (therefore) more like Jesus.
This ties in perfectly with the mission that Jesus gave to His disciples…
After Jesus’s death and resurrection, He gave them His followers their mission when he said: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 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: 18-20, NIV)
It should be clear that Jesus’s vision – that He would build His church and hell couldn’t stop it – is being realised by and through those following His explicit instructions to “go and make disciples of all nations...”
Our mission, then, is to make disciples and in the words of the apostle Paul, “by all possible means… save some.” (1 Corinthians 9:22 NIV).
Jesus’s approach to people, and Paul’s, was radically inclusive, engaging with people as they found them, rather than expecting them to be some kind of perfect people before getting close to them. For us, this translates to an approach where we engage with people as we find them, we reach out to them, we invite them and make them feel welcome – making sure so far as we can that they feel comfortable and at home with us from the start rather than putting barriers in the way and making it difficult for them to feel engaged and involved.
Of course, we must also teach people the good news about Jesus and share with them His teachings – that’s the all-important “make disciples” part! Here at EBC we have a mission statement that says we exist to love God, love people and grow together to become more like Jesus.
That mission statement begins with loving God and it’s born out of Jesus’s teaching that loving God with all your heart soul and mind is the first and greatest commandment and second is love your neighbour as yourself. If we do those things as individuals we’ll be growing more like Jesus, and if we do them together we’ll be growing more like the church Jesus envisaged!
Jesus’s vision was of a growing church overcoming evil. Our mission, to help make that vision a reality, is to go and make disciples – starting with ourselves! If we’re not truly disciples ourselves, we’re hardly going to make disciples of others, after all. And that’s the mission.
If we’re to love people, we have to disciple them, because yes of course we want people to be fed and watered with a decent place to live and decent stuff in it… but that’s for this life and we want a Heaven of a lot more for them than that don’t we? Why? Because eternity is a very long time indeed.
I hope that helps you see clearly what we should be about. Our mission is to make disciples. That’s Jesus’s instruction as to how to get to His vision of a church built by Jesus, against which all the forces of hell cannot stand.
At EBC we have what we call our five “C” values, which represent the sorts of things we want to reflect in the various things we do together as we go about our mission. These are CARING, COMMITMENT, COMMUNITY, CELEBRATION AND COMMUNICATIION –
One way to remember these is with this sentence setting out what we aspire to being as a church – “We are a caring, committed, community, celebrating and communicating effectively the love of God in Jesus Christ.”
Crucially, if we are to make disciples of people, we must be disciples ourselves – we must remain “in Jesus Christ”. As Jesus explained we can only be fruitful if we remain connected to Him, just like the branches of a vine (see John chapter 15). It is critical that we always keep Jesus at the centre of what we do – think of Christ as the all-important C at the centre of our five C values if you like! After all, it’s His church, His vision and His mission that we’re all about!
Next time, we’ll look at the question of how EBC can be both a welcoming community that everyone can be part of, as well as a called-out gathering of believers committed to God!