Communicating Your Purposes:
In Nehemiah’s story of rebuilding the wall around Jerusalem, we learn that halfway through the project the people got discouraged and wanted to give up. They lost their sense of purpose and, as a result, became overwhelmed with fatigue, frustration, and fear. Nehemiah rallied the people back to work by reorganizing the project and recasting the vision. He reminded them of the importance of their work and reassured them that God would help them fulfill His purpose (Nehemiah 4:6-15). The wall was completed in 52 days.
Think of it, it only took 52 days and yet the people became discouraged and wanted to quit after just 26 days. From this story Rick Warren developed the “Nehemiah Principle”: Vision and purpose must be restated every 26 days to keep the church moving in the right direction. In other words we should communicate our purpose at least monthly.
His challenge to you and me is that once we have defined the purposes of our church we must continually clarify and communicate them to everyone in our church. It’s not our task to simply mention them once and then hope everyone remembers them. Those purposes must be stated, restated, and clarified over and over.
Ways to Communicate Vision and Purpose (the 5 S’s):
Scripture: Teach the Biblical truth about the church. Show how every part of your church’s vision is Biblically based. We can do this by studying Bible verses that explain and illustrate our reasoning.
Symbols: We need to understand and harness the tremendous power of symbols. People often need visual representations of concepts in order to grasp them. Symbols can be powerful communication tools because they elicit strong passion and emotions. For instance, you would be outraged to find a swastika painted on your church wall, but an American flag brings out feelings of honor and pride.
Continents have been conquered under the sign of Christianity’s cross, communism’s hammer and sickle, and Islam’s crescent moon.
At Saddleback they’ve used two symbols – five concentric circles and a baseball diamond – to illustrate the 5 purposes of the church. We’ll discuss those symbols in the coming weeks.
Slogans: Slogans, maxims, mottoes, and pithy phrases are remembered after sermons are forgotten. Many key events in history have hinged on a slogan: “Remember the Alamo!” “Sink the Bismarck!” “Give me liberty or give me death!” History has proven that a simple slogan, repeatedly shared with conviction, can motivate people to do things they normally would never do, even to giving up their lives on a battlefield.
Saddleback has developed and used dozens of slogans to reinforce church vision: “Every member is a minister,” “All leaders are learners,” “We’re saved to serve,” “Evaluate for excellence,” “Win the lost at any cost,” and many others. Pastor Warren periodically sets aside time to think of new ways to communicate old ideas in fresh ways.
Stories: Jesus used simple stories to help people understand and relate to His vision.
Matthew 13:34) [GW] Jesus used illustrations to tell the crowds all these things. He did not tell them anything without illustrating it with a story.
Rick challenges us to use stories to dramatize the purposes of our church. Rick will speak about evangelism and tell stories of members who have shared their faith with friends and led them to Christ. He’ll talk about fellowship and read letters from people whose loneliness was relieved by getting involved in the church family. People like to do whatever gets rewarded, so tell the stories of those who do the work of the church and make heroes of them.
Specifics: We need to always give practical, clear, concrete action steps that explain how our church intends to fulfill its purposes. We need to plan programs, schedule events, dedicate buildings, and eventually hire staff for each purpose.
Remember, nothing becomes dynamic until it becomes specific. When a vision is vague it holds no attraction. The more specific our vision is, the more it will grab attention and attract commitment. The most specific way to communicate purposes is to apply them personally to each member’s life.
Personalize the Purposes:
Colossians 3:15) [TLB] Let the peace of heart that comes from Christ be always present in your hearts and lives, for this is your responsibility and privilege as members of his body. And always be thankful.
The way to personalize the purposes is to show that there is both a privilege and a responsibility connected to each of them. Each of the 5 purposes are our responsibility to fulfill and they are our privilege to enjoy.
The 5 purposes are personalized by reminding one another that these are God’s 5 goals for each believer.
My Responsibilities as a Believer:
God wants me to be a member of His family: This is the purpose of fellowship stated in a personal way. Following Christ isn’t just a matter of believing – it also includes belonging.
1 Peter 1:3a) [TLB] All honor to God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ; for it is his boundless mercy that has given us the privilege of being born again so that we are now members of God’s own family.
Ephesians 2:19) [GW] That is why you are no longer foreigners and outsiders but citizens together with God’s people and members of God’s family.
God wants me to be a model of His character: This is the personalized goal of discipleship. God wants every believer to grow up spiritually to develop a Christ-like character. That’s the Biblical definition of “spiritual maturity.” Jesus has established a pattern for us to follow.
1 Peter 2:21) [GNB] It was to this that God called you, for Christ himself suffered for you and left you an example, so that you would follow in his steps.
1 Timothy 4:12) [GNB] Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but be an example for the believers in your speech, your conduct, your love, faith, and purity.
Spiritual maturity isn’t measured by one’s knowledge, but by one’s lifestyle.
God wants me to be a minister of His grace: A 3rd responsibility of each believer is the personalized purpose of service, or ministry. God expects us to use the gifts, talents, and opportunities He gives us to benefit others.
1 Peter 4:10) [GNB] Each one, as a good manager of God’s different gifts, must use for the good of others the special gift he has received from God.
Ephesians 2: 10) [TLB] It is God himself who has made us what we are and given us new lives from Christ Jesus; and long ages ago he planned that we should spend these lives in helping others.
Rick Warren tells unbelievers, “When you give your life to Christ, you are signing up to minister in His name for the rest of your life. It’s what God made you for.
God wants me to be a messenger of His love: This is the church’s personalized responsibility of evangelism stated in a personal way. Part of the job description for each believer is that once we have been born again, we become messengers of the Good News to others.
Acts 20:24) [TLB] But life is worth nothing unless I use it for doing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus-the work of telling others the Good News about God’s mighty kindness and love.
2 Corinthians 5:19-20) In other words, God was using Christ to restore his relationship with humanity. He didn’t hold people’s faults against them, and he has given us this message of restored relationships to tell others.
20) Therefore, we are Christ’s representatives, and through us God is calling you. We beg you on behalf of Christ to become reunited with God.
We are to plead with unbelievers to receive the love He offers – go be reconciled to God. Why doesn’t God take us immediately to Heaven once we’re saved? There’s only 2 things we can do on earth that we can’t do in Heaven: sin, and witness to unbelievers. Which of these reasons to you think God left us on earth for?
God wants me to be a magnifier of His name: This is the church’s personalized responsibility to worship God.
Psalm 34:3) [KJB] O magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together.
We each have a responsibility to worship God. There’s an inborn urge in everyone to worship. If we refuse to worship God we’ll find something else to worship.
Exodus 20:3) [KJB] Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
My Privileges as a Believer:
While fulfilling the 5 purposes of the church is a responsibility of every believer, they also provide spiritual, emotional, and relational benefits.
Church provides people with benefits they can’t find anywhere else in the world:
- Worship helps people focus on God.
- Fellowship helps them face life’s problems.
- Discipleship helps fortify their faith.
- Ministry helps them find their talents.
- Evangelism helps them fulfill their mission.
State It Over and Over:
One widely known law of advertising is that a message must be communicated 7 times before it really sinks in.
My Church Family Gives Me
- God’s purpose to live for (mission)
- God’s people to live with (membership)
- God’s principles to live by (maturity)
- God’s profession to live out (ministry)
- God’s power to live by (magnify)
Walk of Grace Chapel, Council Bluffs Church