I have written before about why we ‘do’ missions (see part 1 here). Simply put, we reach out to others because we are continuing the mission that Jesus started. To feed the hungry, clothe the naked, visit those in prison and more.
But our mission is bigger than that.
The mission statement of the United Methodist Church says that our goal is to “make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
Read that again.
Our explicit, stated purpose is to do nothing less than to change the world and not just change it a little, but to fundamentally transform it.
That’s a big job.
And that’s exactly why we can’t allow ourselves to focus only on what’s inside the church.
Programs and entertainment are good things, and they can be vitally important, but they aren’t why we are here. There are two driving goals that grow out of a big mission like ours.
First, if we are to “make disciples,” then we must be diligently provide teaching and training to the followers of Jesus Christ so that they can become more and more like him. We must grow the people of the church to become mature disciples who are equipped and capable of making disciples of Jesus Christ.
And second, once we are equipped and trained, then we must go out and make disciples.
What we do ‘at church’ is vitally important to our mission. It is here that we learn, teach, train and mature. But we cannot ‘make’ disciples here; in order to do that we need to go outside the walls of the church. Making disciples can be a lot of things. Making disciples can be feeding the hungry or clothing the naked. Making disciples can be sharing Jesus with your friends, relatives and co-workers. Making disciples can happen in our homes and our neighborhoods, or it can happen far from home on mission trips. But no matter where it happens, we aren’t likely to make disciples, let alone transform the world, if we stay inside the church.
That is probably the one thing that confuses people most about trying to grow our church, because the best way for us to grow inside, is to do more things outside.