Do you remember the popular kids in school? They were popular because they were known by everyone (known doesn’t necessarily mean friends with everyone). Some of the kids were just naturally likeable, they didn’t do anything in particular to be loved by everyone. They were just good people, that seemed to get along well with anyone. Then there were those who made strategic moves (good or bad) to work their way into notoriety. When you think back to these people you were in school with, or if you were one of them…
What where you know for? What made people gravitate to you? What made people like you or want to be your friend?
Now let’s spin this to ministry.
There are churches and ministries that are incredibly popular, everyone knows who they are. They may never have even walked through their doors or looked at their website… but you drop their name and everyone recognizes it immediately. Some of these churches and ministries have gotten to that position naturally. They just do what God called them to do, followed that vision, and the people came to them. Others made strategic choices (good or bad) to elevate themselves into the world of being known.
But, what are they known for? What made the people gravitate through their doors or into their cause?
What is Your Vision or Mission Statement?
If your church has a vision or mission statement, that is the most obvious answer. THAT is what your church or ministry should be known for. If your mission is to serve the homeless, then that should be the answer. “Community Church is known for it’s outreach and service to the homeless in our community”. If your mission is to support the orphans in your community, then that should be answer. “Women’s Ministry of First Church is to share the gospel with our foster and adoptive families, by walking along life with them.” If the church has a mission, then the Women’s Ministry should have a similar mission pin pointed toward women.
When asking the community about your church or ministry, you would hope that their answer would be representative of your vision/mission statement. If it’s not, that needs to be addressed.
A few years ago, I attended an event with my sister. At the end of the event I asked her opinion of what she experienced. She replied: “These are precious, godly women.” That is great feedback. Part of the mission of that church foremost connecting people to Christ, and based on what we witnessed their women’s ministry was doing just that.
I recently had a discussion with a local woman about her church, and I posed a similar question to her. I wanted to know what her church was known for, and she replied “Well, people call it the popular church.” I asked her what she meant by that, I wanted to understand more. Why is it popular? Do they love on people well? Are they super active in the community? As I pressed in further, she explained… “Everyone knows the church by name or at least someone who goes there.” When I asked what the mission statement of the church was, she didn’t know it. This is not so great feedback. It’s not terrible, but I’m not certain our ministries simply want to be known for existing.
Get a Vision or Mission Statement
If your church or ministry doesn’t have a vision or mission statement, it’s time to get into prayer and ask God to put a calling on your heart for your church/ministry. If you do have a vision/mission statement, ask people randomly if they know what it is. If they can’t answer you, or can’t articulate it well, then revisit your vision/mission statement. Perhaps it needs to be revised so that it is simpler and more clearly defined. Or, you may just need to remind those who are in your church/ministry every so often what your mission/vision statement is.
Have Accountability to that Vision/Mission
Once your church/ministry has a clearly defined and easily explained vision/mission statement, ensure that you have people on staff or in your planning team that are going to hold you accountable to that vision/mission. Weigh your plans, budget, events, outreach, trips, programs, and ministries against it. If it doesn’t hold up to the vision/mission, let it go. If you can’t let it go, if you really feel like God is calling you to something new… it may be a case of the Lord giving you a new vision/mission. Those who serve for this accountability can join you in prayer seeking God’s direction and guidance to continue as you have been called or that it is time to carve a new pathway.
Keep a Finger on the Pulse of the Community
If you believe that your church/ministry has a significant calling and presence in your community, the best way to find out if that is being executed is by checking the heartbeat of the community. Ask not just your church members or the women your ministry serve, but also the community. When meeting people and striking up conversation, ask them if they’ve heard of your church or ministry. What do they say, how do they respond? This is an easy way to find out if you are living our your vision or if there needs to be course correction.
Being a popular church or ministry is NOT a bad thing. What matters is WHAT you are popular for, what you are known for in the community. The simplest answer come from Scripture in John 13:35, we will be known for our love for one another.
“By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
What will distinguish us from each other, as churches and ministries, and define our vision/mission is in the way that we love. How we serve, care, tend, lead, teach, and guide the flock we have been put in charge of and the communities we have been called to.