Over the last two years, the session has fruitfully discussed and debated the identity of Harvest, our mission, and our values. A few months ago, we offered an initial draft of a mission statement, but after feedback, we realized that it was a bit confusing and needed some tweaking. Mission statements should play a significant role in communicating and clarifying the work that we should be doing, so we wanted to get it right.
After much discussion and prayer, the session would like the introduce the final version of our mission statement that we pray will help to guide us for many years: “Making Disciples Who Worship and Serve.” The goal of this article is to offer a brief overview of what we mean by these six words.
The Mission: Making Disciples
We are a church, and therefore we exist to make disciples. This simple missional mandate sharply contrasts with the missions of various other organizations.
For example, we are not a business, existing to create a customer. We are not a social activist group, existing to bring about societal change. We are not a country club, existing to network and hobnob with the rich and powerful. We are not a lobbying organization, existing to push specific legislation through the government. We are not a counseling company, existing to provide therapeutic care.
Instead, the church receives her mission directly from the word of Jesus Christ our Lord:
“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:18–20).
We exist, therefore, to make disciples of Jesus Christ—and that is the beginning and the end of our mission. Additionally, Jesus tells us how we are to make disciples:
- While “going”—whether going about our daily lives, going across the street to serve our neighbors, or going overseas in missions work. In other words, we are called to make disciples in the course of everything we do.
- By “baptizing” people in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, incorporating them into the membership of the visible church of Christ on the earth. Life in a local congregation is an essential component to disciple-making.
- By “teaching” them to obey everything Jesus has commanded them. We will talk about Jesus’ commandments in a moment.
Lord willing, we will further clarify our vision for disciple-making in the coming weeks and months. For now, let us simply say that discipleship is a training process that necessarily involves both following and leading. We follow Jesus Christ by listening to his word, for Jesus tells us that he is the Good Shepherd whose sheep “will listen to my voice” (John 10:14, 16).
As we follow Jesus, we also learn to lead—minimally, to lead our own lives by the gospel and the power of the Spirit, but also to lead those around us one step closer to Jesus, as we have opportunity. There is a huge range of various scopes of leadership from person to person, but Jesus calls every disciple to enter into the sowing and reaping work of the gospel in some capacity (John 4:31–38).
First Commandment: Love God in Worship
Again, in the Great Commission, Jesus insists that we make disciples by “teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matt. 28:20). When a lawyer asked Jesus himself what the greatest commandment was, Jesus summarized the entire law in two commandments:
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets” (Matt. 22:37–40).
Loving God with all of our heart, soul, and mind is the heart of worship. Therefore, an essential part of our mission is to make disciples who worship. This has a variety of applications:
- We seek to lead sinners to learn to worship God for the first time through conversion to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
- We seek to train believers to understand the Bible and to pray in private worship, Bible studies, and disciple groups.
- We prioritize our corporate worship as the highlight of our week, where God promises to meet uniquely with his people and shepherd us by the word, prayer, and sacraments.
Second Commandment: Love People through Service
The second commandment Jesus gives us is to love our neighbor as ourselves. We believe that Christ has given a variety of gifts to his church (Rom. 12:3–8), equipping every person in some way (Eph. 4:7) to help build up the whole body of Christ (1 Cor. 12). Not every person is called to serve in the same way, but everyone is called to serve in some way.
As such, our mission is to equip every member of Harvest to utilize their spiritual gifts for the purposes that Jesus intended. We want to teach, equip, and train disciples in our church with the goal especially of making disciple-making disciples who can help in the work of teaching, equipping, training, and making more disciples.
By God’s grace and for his glory, pray with us that Harvest will continue to grow as a church who exists for making disciples who worship and serve.