It is not enough to say the Bible is our guide. It is not enough to say our church gets its distinctive identity and direction from the Bible. The Bible is a big book. It describes hundreds of right things to believe and hundreds of good things to do. But nobody can hold them in his head all at once. Even when we narrow our attention to the central person of Jesus, he is so great and said so many great things that it’s not enough to say Jesus is our distinctive.
Of course, we would have no distinctive mission in the world if we lost the Bible or lost Jesus. But what we need in order to give us a clear sense of mission is a concise statement that gathers up the whole Bible into a few sentences. We need some crisp, clear biblical statements of why we exist as a church, what our distinctive is and where we are going. “If the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?” (1 Corinthians 14:8).
I think, as a pastoral staff and a body of believers, we need to articulate as clearly and concisely as possible why we exist as a group and how we are different from other groups in our society. Then we need to take this statement of mission and think through how each of our meetings and programs relates to it, until we can give an accounting to anyone for why we do what we do.
When you feel a sense of clearly defined identity and purpose, your life takes on new meaning. If every member could state clearly and simply why we exist as a church, and could see how all the parts of our church life grow out of that mission, there would be a new intensity about all we do. Every member would feel the heart of our cause. Every member would see what makes us tick. And everyone could see ways to work out his or her own special contribution. It is a thrilling thing to watch an army respond when they all know the bugle sound and what it means.
So, for the next three Sundays all adult Sunday School classes will meet together to hear the pastoral staff’s vision of our mission. First (August 14), I will present an overall mission statement for your discussion and questions. Second (August 21), Tom will present the way this mission should work itself out in adult education. Third (August 28), Glenn will discuss the way the mission statement relates to small group ministry at Bethlehem.
Please come and help us refine the clarity of our bugle shout.
Ready to blow,