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Developing Your Missions Statement

By David Jeremiah

An entire generation of television viewers—from the sixties and seventies—can instantly identify the tense, anticipatory opening music to one of TV’s most popular series: the original Mission Impossible. The series ran from 1966–1973, portraying a small team of secret government agents—the Impossible Missions Force (IMF)—as they succeeded in “saving the world” in sixty minutes week after week.

The opening scene of each episode followed the same dramatic format nearly every week. The leader of the IMF would listen to a small tape recording from a government official containing the team’s next assignment. After a brief description of the problem to be solved, the agent on the tape would say, “Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to . . .”—followed by a specific mission description. After the recording ended, the tape would self-destruct to avoid any evidence that the assignment had been given.

Should you decide to accept it. That was the key conditional element in every assignment. The IMF was given the option of declining the assignment if they deemed it too risky—but of course they never did. Through ingenuity, spy-craft, subterfuge, brilliance, and bravery, the IMF always accomplished their mission.

Three elements characterized every assignment the secret agents received:

  1. The mission: It was always clearly defined.
  2. The mandate: Once the mission was accepted, there was no backing down.
  3. The missions: The IMF was a team; each member had their own specific role to play in accomplishing the larger mission. So, there were individual missions that contributed to the overall mission of the IMF. And those individual missions were critical; they were interdependent. If any IMF team member failed to accomplish his or her individual mission, the overall mission would fail.

The Christian Church—the Body of Christ—has three parts that parallel the assignments of Mission Impossible’s Impossible Missions Force. Let’s review the first two briefly (the mission and the mandate) before we cover the third in depth: the individual members’ unique missions.

The Mission

The Church is like the IMF in this way: We have a mission. But we are unlike the IMF in this way: Our mission is possible, not impossible! Our mission comes from God Himself; He would not have given us an assignment that was impossible to carry out. The Church, then, is God’s Possible Missions Force—possible, not impossible!

So, what is our mission? It is found in all four Gospel accounts as expressed by Jesus:

Matthew 28:19-20. Make disciples of all the nations, baptizing and teaching those who choose to follow Jesus.

Mark 16:15-16. Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to every person.

Luke 24:47 (see also Acts 1:8). Be Christ’s witnesses in all the world, preaching repentance and forgiveness in His Name.

John 20:21. Duplicate Christ’s redemptive mission in the world. As God sent Christ into the world, so Christ sends us: “As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”

In summary: Go into all the world, preach the Good News of God’s Kingdom and salvation to every person, training new believers to be committed Christ-followers through baptism and teaching God’s Word.

The Mandate

Our mission is different from that of the television series in another way: Our mission is not optional. Jesus didn’t say to the apostles, “Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to preach the Gospel and disciple the nations in My Name.”

Not only is the overall mission not optional, the unique mission of each member of Christ’s Body is not optional. As much as we like to stress the word grace in our discussions about salvation, we sometimes don’t stress the word Lord as much as we should. Said another way, Christ’s lordship should impact our decisions, activities, and priorities more than it does.

In general, servants are subject to the desires of their master. Yes, servants can disagree or even disobey. But inherent in the servant–master relationship is the notion of obedience. It is not a relationship of options. God did not give Moses Ten Suggestions; He gave Moses Ten Commandments. Likewise, Jesus said, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” (Luke 6:46)

Government secret agents have options; they can walk away. Not so with disciples of Christ. Our calling Him “Lord” means we are prepared to fulfill His mission to spread His Gospel around the world.

The Missions

Do you remember the question that used to show up on signs in front of churches years ago? It asked, “Are you a Clairol Christian? Only your hairdresser knows for sure.” The question is a reasonable one; God never intended for us to be secret agents for Jesus. We are to be lights on a hill, not lights under a basket; doers of good works and words for all to see and hear. Our public lives—words and deeds—are to be part of our “missionary” lifestyle (Matthew 5:14-16). Our entire life, lived in service to Jesus Christ, is to be a missionary life, a mission-minded life, just as Jesus’ own life was.

But we are all different—having gifts, strengths, ages, locations—and therefore our personal missions will differ. The apostle Paul’s comparison of individual Christians with different parts of the human body illustrates this fact (1 Corinthians 12). Every organ and limb—indeed, every cell!—contributes something unique to the human body’s overall mission of health and strength. It’s the same with the Church’s mission to reach the world for Christ. We all have a unique part to play based on our unique abilities, giftedness, and location.

The following questions can help us each craft a personal mission statement regardless of who we are and where we live:

  1. Who is in my circle of influence? (neighbors, coworkers, friends)
  2. What is their spiritual condition? (churched, unchurched, secular, religious)
  3. What entry points into their lives exist? (ethnicity, language, workplace, recreation, common interests, acts of kindness or charity)
  4. With which person(s) do I have the most available opportunity for witness, service, or influence?
  5. What am I willing to invest or sacrifice (time, finances, preferences) to help this person(s) come to know Jesus Christ now and for eternity?

Those questions, and others you will think of, can jump-start your thinking about your personal mission statement—your unique role in helping the Church fulfill Christ’s Great Commission: Who am I? Where am I? Who are my neighbors? What are their needs? Do I truly believe God can use me to reach them for Christ?

The Mission Statement

The modern corporate management movement gave rise to the formulation of corporate mission statements—a way for companies to decide, and state, what their purpose is. They can be short—“To save people money so they can live better” (Walmart)—or long—“FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards” (the Federal Emergency Management Agency).

Every company’s employees can craft their own unique mission statement—how they contribute to the overall mission of the company based on their job responsibilities: sales, administration, design, manufacturing, or other. And the same can be true of every Christian—developing a personal mission statement.

Mission statements can change over time and in light of varying circumstances in your life. So consider the next twelve months: What kind of personal mission statement can best reflect the opportunities God has given you to help fulfill Christ’s mission to disciple the nations? Consider using the following examples as a format for your personal mission statement for the next year, depending on your personal situation.

Example A: “To befriend my two new neighbors, invite them into our home, learn about their spiritual condition over time, and trust God for an opportunity to introduce them to the Gospel.”

Example B: “To develop a plan for evangelizing the families in my neighborhood by starting a weekly kids’ club for stories, refreshments, games, and lessons.”

Example C: “To become trained in crisis pregnancy counseling and secure a ministry position in this field either in the community or my church.”

Get the idea? Ask God to help you craft a personal mission statement that will aid the Church in fulfilling the Great Commission and impacting our world for Christ!

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