Lately I have been part of a number of discussions about mission statements. DOOR, the organization I lead, has a tag line, “See the Face of God in the City,” and we have a Philosophy of Ministry, both of these have helped to shape and guide DOOR for the past number of years, but we still need to develop a mission statement. According to one of my colleagues, a good mission statement clearly defines the services to be performed and the compassion driving the people who provide those services. The best mission statements are clear, memorable, and concise.
I have a friend, Anton Flores, who leads a ministry called “Alterna” in La Grange, GA. He has done much to influence my understanding of Scripture and the call of God. His take on Exodus 3:7-8, is fascinating.
Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey…”
In this passage we gain insight into how God approaches ministry. I cannot help but think that a mission statement tied to God’s approach to doing ministry might be a good starting point.
In this passage God lets Moses know four things:
- God has observed the misery of his people who are in Egypt
- God has heard their cry on account of their taskmasters
- God knows their sufferings
- Because of all of this God will come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey…
Is it possible that this passage provides a model for engaging in ministry? Before ministry can happen we must see the need - kind of obvious. Many of us trip up after seeing; it is almost instinctual to jump from seeing to fixing. It usually goes something like this: we go on a mission trip, see the hungry children, and immediately start a hunger relief program. It is interesting to think that this is not how God works.
After seeing the need it is important if not critical to hear the stories. Listening comes before doing. As we listen and share stories the possibility of knowing each other emerges. It isn’t until we know each other that a space for doing is created.
Can you imagine how this type of approach changes almost everything about service, mission and the statements we develop?