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Generate desires to see churches renewed and strengthened. Through the Generate Renewal Grant, churches can work with experienced consultants to help fuel the health of their church ministries. The following article from one of Generate’s partnering consultants has tips that can help strengthen every church.

By Howard Bixby

A few years ago Rick Warren’s research team conducted a phone survey of born-again regular church attenders. The survey asked these church attenders to tell the interviewer the purpose of their churches. The researchers were surprised to find that about 70 percent of those surveyed could not clearly state the purpose. They struggled to explain why their churches existed. They were faithfully attending a church but apparently were not focused on what it was to accomplish. This deficiency of understanding the church’s purpose ran parallel to a national decline in church attendance.

Every church must have a vision of not only why it exists, but what it’s trying to accomplish for God. The following three words are essential in developing and stating a motivating vision: purpose, mission, and vision.

Purpose

In developing a vision, a church should start with what God says are the purposes of the church. (Some would call these “core values.”) The Scriptures provide us with four purposes for the church to pursue and accomplish. These four purposes are in a context of obedient service toward God and others. (Some writers would designate “obedient service” as a fifth purpose rather than a part of the four.)

  1. Worship—Isaiah 6:1–8
  2. Witness—Acts 1:8; Matthew 28:18–20
  3. Fellowship—Acts 2:41–47
  4. Discipling—2 Timothy 2:1–2; Ephesians 4:11–16

Mission

The mission of a church is usually a very brief motivating statement that the church will rally around and work to accomplish. It is an abbreviation of the God-given purposes of the church. Some would see a church’s mission as its slogan or rally cry. An example might be “____________ Baptist Church exists to make more and better disciples of Christ.” The back of their T-shirts might read “More and Better Disciples.”

Vision

A church’s vision declares where the church is going and what it’s trying to accomplish this year or in a number of years. A successful church vision will be based on its purpose statement, tells everyone how the church plans to accomplish its purposes, and will be consistently achieving its mission. The specific actions or activities described in the vision statement provide an action plan for the church, identifying its priorities for the period the vision covers. A vision statement may include programs, methods, goals, and timelines.

Churches that clearly understand God’s purposes for His church and have a clear vision for how to achieve them will usually experience excitement and growth. A declining or plateaued church will normally have to evaluate its ministry and be revitalized in its purpose-driven vision for the future. Church revitalization consultants are available to assist churches in the evaluation and revitalization process.

Next Steps

  • Evaluate the past and present in terms of the church’s vision. Churches, like people, tend to work and spend resources to achieve what is important to them. 
  • If your church does not have clear purpose, mission, and vision statements to guide its actions and decisions, contact one of the church consultants provided by Generate and find out how to address this need.

Howard Bixby has five decades of ministry experience. Now retired, he most recently served as president of ChristWay Ministries, where he assisted churches and pastors with strategic planning, led teacher training seminars, and helped churches develop a passion for Biblical outreach and growth.