When Jesus formed the church, he had at least two aims in mind. Church would first of all be about loving God with heart, soul, mind and body (or strength) and, secondly, that this group of people would love their neighbors as themselves (Mark 12:28-34). While “neighbor” might include other church members, Jesus nearly always used the term to push us toward those who are different from us. Given the centrality of this teaching for Jesus, it would be hard to suggest that the church should be doing something other than fulfilling these commands.
Since Jesus says these are the most important commands, any other command we find in the Bible must somehow fit under these. Additionally, any understanding of any of the lesser command that ignores or bypasses these two must be seen as an misinterpretation of the lesser command.
So, if these are the core values of Jesus for the church, how are we doing?
I have found Peter Drucker, the well-known business specialist, to be helpful in this regard. He once framed what he called “The Five Most Important Questions” any organization must ask if it wanted to remain true to its mission. I think you might find them instructive as we seek God’s specific missional vocation for Tammany Oaks.
- What is our mission?
- Who is our customer?
- What does the customer value?
- What are our results?
- What is our plan?*
I have found these questions very helpful in thinking out where God might be leading us. While the church is not a business, it is in the business of announcing the kingdom of God and our “success” can be measured in how well we are doing that and lives that are transformed because of it.
So what is our mission? While each congregation needs a specific focus, we can be sure that it involves loving God and loving “other” people. So who are the church’s customers? Again, Jesus helps us here: God and “other” people. When the church views her members as the primary “customers,” her mission will always get redirected to “our” perceived needs. Members should see themselves more as customer service representatives who are eager to please God and serve others.
The final two questions are the hard ones, and as such, deserve more of our attention than I can give here. However, we should be able to see that the answers lie near the two greatest commands.
What are the markers of a “successful” church? Two of the makers, of course, would be that a successful church loves God and other people.
So what is the church’s plan? While the answer to this question needs to have specifics based on where God has placed each congregation, we can be sure the plan should be the outworking of loving God and others.
* Peter F. Drucker, The Five Most Important Questions You Will Ever Ask about Your Nonprofit Organization (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1993).