Our Mission: Forming Disciples
Our formal expression of our mission looks like this:
God is calling and is equipping the church of Christ at Cedar Lane to form people into disciples of Jesus who together participate in the kingdom of God.
As a shorthand, we simply refer to our mission as “forming disciples”.
What It Means
To put it simply, our mission is to follow Jesus and to help other people learn to follow him, too.
The Super-Nerdy Breakdown
For those that want a fuller breakdown of what our mission statement means, here you go.
This statement makes explicit that we do not exist for our own purposes, but that God uses us for God’s own purposes, calling and equipping us to that end. Thus the statement is inherently provisional; it is subject to change as we attend to the leading of the Spirit of God.
The statement’s main idea is carried by the verb “to form”. This emphasizes the process of growing, being changed towards a particular goal. The church exists for the purpose of God changing people.
“People”, the object of the verb “to form”, makes the target group of God’s action in the church intentionally broad. It includes people in the community, people already in the church, and even people in distant places like Peru, Romania, and St. Vincent. The church’s mission has implications for unbelievers and old believers: God uses the church to form all of us into disciples of Jesus.
We are formed into “disciples of Jesus”. Jesus is our example and teacher. This also means that our formation is never finished; a disciple is not a completed product, but a person who is always growing. Faithful pursuit of growth is the very nature of discipleship. Related to the concept of discipleship is our participation in the kingdom that Jesus announced.
The “Kingdom of God” indicates a submission to the will of God. The presence of this phrase in the statement indicates the realization that God the creator is the rightful king over all the earth, but also recognizes that not everyone willingly participates in that kingdom in the present. Not everyone is submissive to the will of God. The world contains many people, systems, and forces that are not yet subjected to God. By participating in God’s kingdom in the present, we recognize what is wrong in the world at present, and we work, hope, and pray for its redemption and restoration. Where we see opportunity to redeem what is wrong in the world, we join God in doing so.
Participation in the kingdom of God is something that we do “together”. We are not isolated subjects of God the king, but participate in the kingdom in community. The church is a visible, but imperfect and incomplete, representation of the kingdom.
The mission of the church becomes actualized in the world as we engage in practices that form us into disciples and/or invite others to become disciples.
Worship occurs as we accept and give voice to our position before God. We recognize God as our Lord, and ourselves as subject to God. We interact with God, giving praise and thanks to God.We experiencing God’s presence by his Spirit, and we call upon God to meet our needs. We offer ourselves to God.
In hearing scripture we receive the word of God, and are shaped by it as the spirit uses these ancient words to breathe new life into us. We connect to critical stories of God’s relationship with people, absorbing the narrative in which we find ourselves. We learn God’s will, come to understand the world in new ways, and gain hope for God’s future action.
Living in relationship with each other means we develop holy friendships, which the Spirit uses to shape and refine us. In community we encourage each other to pursue Jesus more faithfully. We gain new understanding from each other that we could not perceive on our own. We are challenged to enact God’s will in actual relationships with people. We learn generosity, responsibility, and accountability through relationships.
In word and deed, Jesus taught his disciples to be servants. In service we imitate Jesus, laying our own interest down for the sake of other people. We allow God to use us, recognizing that he has gifted us for service. We work for the good of others, and in doing so find our own selves to be changed. Service is both the result and means of our discipleship.
In evangelism, we proclaim the good news of God’s kingdom. We invite others to join us in becoming disciples of Jesus. We do this in humble gratitude for what God has done among us, sharing how God’s spirit is at work in our lives. We learn to see our neighbors through the hope that God may act in their lives, and we attend to how we may join in God’s redemptive work.