The Purpose Paradigm-

...toward a proposition of purpose in the local church.

And, necessarily, an expression of what it means to be a spiritually well balanced believer. This is an excerpt from an exercise I worked out before I joined my local church (which I will call FBCM) while trying to discern whether this was the place where God was calling my family to work and labor for the Kingdom purposes of God.

First of all, it might help to define "purpose".

pur·pose-: noun 1

I would boil it down to the French raison d'etre- the reason to be. (sorry no circumflex).

In a presentation to the May, 1998, Lutheran Michigan District Pastors' South and East Conference, a speaker stated that "Peter Drucker led the church in America to develop a Purpose Statement." In fact, it is said that Bill Hybels has a Drucker quote over his desk at Willow Creek.

In a postmodern era, we must remember that this accolade actually belongs to Jesus Christ by virtue of Luke 24:47 "... that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."

And in Matthew 28:19-20 "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, [even] unto the end of the world. Amen."

But how do we realize our purpose in the world? The Biblical answer boils down to issues of authenticity. We are to Be who Christ said we are to be and Do what He commands. This is the imperative of the great commandment in Mark 12:30-31, and a restatement of Deuteronomy 6:4-5 and Leviticus 19:18.

"...and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.' 12:31 "The second is this, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' There is no other commandment greater than these."

I would say that Purpose is different than mission or principles. In a sense it is more essential as mission relates to doing and principles relate to being.

BEING and DOING are elements of our reality that are like the flip sides of a coin- Inward realities must necessarily be manifested in outward expressions, or they are not true or authentic. Likewise, our outward expressions must be based in a changed life. In fact the absence or lack in any particular area belies a problem waiting to manifest itself in the life of the believer, and form points at which the accuser can attack us as believers. Paradoxically, the doing of ministry changes who we are as we are conformed. Then the changed life manifests itself in more ministry. In fact nothing changes a human being more than ministering to another human or to God. Talk about perpetual motion.

Each of the parts of our purpose informs the other- in fact there are aspects in which our attributes as the body of Christ are only fleshed out by holistic application- this is the only way to achieve a spiritual balance. In fleshing this out it has helped me to see how well balanced the Church's existing mission statement is. Hopefully, more is not less in this case. Time and again my mind returned to our raison d'etre- to play our part in the Kingdom purposes of God as revealed in His redemptive plan in our present reality...

The great purpose of the church is to be to the praise of God's glory and grace (Eph. 1:6, 12). The praise of God's glory occurs when people come to Christ and become conformed into His image. Saving sinful people and making them like God's Son manifests the glory of God's divine essence (His love, grace, mercy, power, goodness, sovereignty, and holiness). In this primary purpose, the church is to be used of God to bring people to Christ and see them transformed to His character (Col. 1:28). Included in this are three major objectives which the church must intensely pursue.

Exalting the Lord

Everything that the church does must first and foremost exalt and honor the Lord (1 Cor. 10:31; Col. 3:17).

Equipping the Saints

"Equipping" is one of the primary ways to help people become like Jesus Christ. This is accomplished as the gifted people of the church pour their lives into others and they in turn reach out to others with the vision of every believer a minister and an ambassador (Eph. 4:11-16).

Evangelizing the Lost

If a church is not reaching out to the lost, it is not fulfilling one of the great reasons God has left her on this planet. When we do not evangelize, we fossilize (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 1:8; Col. 4:3).

For the past ten years or so the mission of FBCM has been distilled to these three main points of purpose, represented by three E's. This has been to facilitate the memory of some discrete and simple, yet thoroughly biblical principles. Click on the links below to see my take on how these might be fleshed out...

E1 | E2 | E3

Coming soon- specific thoughts on how to bring theory into the realm of praxis...

1. Grow up! The Biblical mandate for growth.