Salem is in the process of rolling out a new mission statement. For close to twenty years Salem has been transforming the Triangle and beyond with incredible results. Our church has seen some really great growth and advancements in ministry over this time so one might wonder why we need this change. This is not a change that came about because we are trying to do something new. This is a change that came about rather naturally. It has happened because we want to make sure that we are aligning our mission statement to all of the wonderful things that God is doing right now in the life of our church.
God is still using Salem to transform the Triangle and beyond, but he is doing it in a rather specific way. We want to make sure that we are focused on what God is doing and that we continue to join him in his work. Our new mission statement reads:
We will glorify God, making disciples who pursue Jesus, and share His story.
This new mission statement gives us a clear idea of how God is using Salem to serve the people in the world around us. Here is how he is doing that.
God is God, and because of that he is all together glorious. One of the things that makes God who he is is his glory. We can do nothing to take away from his glory or to add to his glory. Because he is glory, everything he created shouts out his glory. The heavens declare his glory (Psalm 19:1) and we as humans are created for his glory (Isaiah 43:7). God created us so that we could be reflections of his glory to the world around us. This is why in 1 Corinthians 10:31 we are called to do everything to the glory of God. It is God who gives us life and it is God who sustains life – and we have no other option but to glorify God with what he has given us.
Glorifying God is a good goal for a church to have, but how does a church go about doing that? There are many different ways for a church to do that, but what makes Salem unique is how it goes about doing it. Over the last couple of years there has been a subtle shift in how Salem has looked at ministry. Our pastors and ministries have started to make a conscious and consistent effort to make disciples who are pursuing Jesus, and sharing in His story.
At the end of Matthew, Jesus commissioned the church to go and make disciples. In order for the church to do that, we have to have a good understanding of what a disciple of Jesus is. Matthew 28:18-20 is a good place to begin:
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
This passage points to two things that the church is called to do in the disciple-making process as they go. The first is that they are sharing the good news of our Good King Jesus. This leads to people coming to know Jesus as the Lord of their lives and being baptized. The second, is the new disciple continues on in learning the commands of Christ while living a life devoted to following them.
The term disciple literally means follower and was typically used in relation to someone learning from someone else. The point of the learning was for more than the transfer of information, it was for transforming a life. Jesus tells us that.
A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher. – Luke 6:40
The goal of Christian discipleship is for the disciple to look like the teacher. The teacher is Jesus himself. At Salem, we want to be a church that shares the Gospel with the world around us so that our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and family members would come to see how good our Great God is. When they see the beauty of our Lord, they will then start to follow him. As they follow him, they become like him. And, while we are being obedient to the call he has given us we are being transformed more and more into his image.
I started dating the woman who is now my wife when we were in high school. When I saw her I realized that I wanted to be with her forever. I did everything that I could to pursue her. During my chase after her, I realized that there were many things in my life that needed to change. I spent less time with some of my friends, I didn’t play as many video games, I started taking more showers, I made sure that my clothes were semi-ironed, and over time made changes to some incredibly bad habits.
The reason why I was willing to make so many changes was because I thought (rightly) that anything that I had to give up or change was nothing compared to having a relationship with her. She was (and is) an amazing treasure that I would gladly and joyfully do it all over again for (except this time with less mistakes on my behalf).
When you see something of great worth, you are willing to give up everything for it. You pursue that which is of value to you. When someone truly understands who Jesus is and what he did for them, they will do just that, pursue him. They will do that because they are so in love with him, his grace, and his majesty that everything else is pointless.
The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. – Matthew 13:44
This is what a disciple does. They understand what they have in Jesus and give everything up so that they can pursue him.
When someone pursues Jesus, there is life change. It is inevitable. The more you chase after something the more you look like it. The more you pursue Jesus the more that you start to look like him.
And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit. – 2 Corinthians 3:18
What an awesome verse on what happens when we are pursuing Jesus. We are all in the process of being conformed into the same image, the image of Christ. We see how good the Lord is and we pursue him. As we pursue him we become like him. Some are at one degree of glory while some are at another. All of us are growing together. We aren’t proud if we are at one degree and someone is at another. We are not proud because this comes from the Holy Spirit. It is God who works in and through us for every good work (Philippians 2:13). What do we have to boast about? It all comes from the Lord. Instead, we help each other pursue God because we are all going to the same place.
Share His Story
The more we pursue Jesus, the more we come to know him. As we come to know him, the more we fall in love with him. The more we fall in love with him, the more we tell the world about him. It is a natural progression. You talk about what is filling your heart. What fills up your conversations? We talk about family, entertainment, sports, books, vacations, friends, and ourselves. These are all great things, and great things to talk about – I want to talk about these things too! But, are we talking about these things in light of the Gospel? Are we seeing the world through the lens of Scripture and because of that the theme of our conversations have changed?
Someone who is pursuing Jesus has to share about his goodness and glory. They have been changed and they want their friends and family and anyone else they come in contact with to have what they have. We do this through word and deed. We don’t share the Gospel through words only. If our actions aren’t in line with our words than we are hypocrites and liars. If our words aren’t in line with our actions we are no more than self-help moralists. It is a packaged deal.
For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. – Romans 1:16a
At Salem, we are not and do not want to be ashamed of the Gospel. It is what brings us salvation. When people are ashamed of something they remain silent on the matter. We do this with our sin, when our family is struggling (though in both cases we need to find someone to share with so they can speak the Gospel into those situations), or when we are a Cleveland Browns fan.
Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34). We want to fill our hearts up with the Lord so that it he has to come out in our speech and our actions. When we do this, the Holy Spirit is at work and others come to know what we do – that there is a glorious God who has called us to make disciples who are pursuing Jesus and sharing His story.
Glorify God. Make Disciples. Pursue Jesus. Share His Story.