Presbyterians Today

AUG-SEP 2018

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46 AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2018 | Pr e s by te r i a n s To d ay — I found it on Google!) lists the six elements that are essential for a good mission statement: • Focuses on satisfying customer needs • Based on core competencies • Motivates and inspires commitment • Realistic and clear • Specific, short, sharply focused and memorable • Says what you want to be remembered for. In my more headstrong days (which some still claim are now) when I did serve on mission statement commit- tees, I would say, "Why can't we just say 'Jesus!'" That response was always dismissed as facetious. Then I dis- covered the Great Ends of the Church and my search for the perfect mission statement ended. The General Assembly generally agrees. For six con- secutive Assemblies in the 1990s (back when they met every year), we all studied and discussed one Great End of the Church at each Assembly. As recently as the 2014 General Assembly, the six Great Ends — one each day — were the subject of com- missioners' and advisory delegates' daily study together. The introduction to the study guide prepared by PC(USA) theologian Joe Small stated, "The great ends provide guidance for the church as faithful expressions of the Christian gospel and as what God calls the church to be and do." Any church mission statement should start there. Jerry Van Marter is the retired director of Presbyterian News Service and stated clerk for the Presbytery of Mid-Kentucky. I n 47 years of ordained ministry, I have served on more Presbyterian committees than I can or want to remember. Because Presbyterians believe that the will of God is better discerned in groups of believers than individually, I concede the necessity of committee service if we are to be the church God wants us to be. But I draw the line at serving on committees whose charge it is to come up with a new mission statement. I despise it. I won't do it. Not because I don't think congregations and other church bodies don't need a mission statement. They do. I won't be part of a mission statement committee because we Presbyterians already one that cannot be improved upon. There it is in F-1.0304 of the Book of Order. It's called "The Great Ends of the Church." There are six of them and together they express in complete and unsurpassed form the mission of the PC(USA). They are: • The proclamation of the gospel for the salvation of humankind • The shelter, nurture and spiritual fellowship of the children of God • The maintenance of divine worship • The preservation of the truth • The promotion of social righteousness • The exhibition of the Kingdom of Heaven to the world. That's all that Presbyterians need to be the faithful body of Christ that we have been called to be. It's all there: proclamation of the gospel, spiritual fellowship, divine worship, keepers of truth, practicing what we preach and living out God's intention for the world in the world. What else do we need, mission statement committees? Language that is a little more contemporary? Maybe. Enhancements that reflect particular contexts for ministry? Perhaps. Greater emphasis on those Great Ends that are the specific focus of particular ministries? Sure, why not? "Mission Statements for Dummies" (it's a real thing The perfect mission statement for carrying out mission It's time to revisit 'The Great Ends of the Church' CHURCH MATTERS | Jerry Van Marter I won't be part of a mission statement committee because we Presbyterians already have one that cannot be improved upon. It's called 'The Great Ends of the Church.'

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