Communicating our vision and purpose
In his book, Purpose Driven Church, Rick Warren takes one chapter to highlight the importance of “communicating your purpose” once you have determined it. He believes that the purpose needs to be restated every month to keep the church moving in the right direction. This consistent sharing of the purpose is, in his mind, the foremost responsibility of leadership.
In his “how to” approach, he outlines five ways to communicate vision and purpose:
1) Scripture – it is vital that the congregation knows that every part of their church’s vision is biblically based.
2) Symbols – Warren says, “People often need visual representations of concepts in order to grasp them. At Saddleback Church, they have used two symbols–five concentric circles and a baseball diamond–to re-emphasize their purpose.
3) Slogans – The effectiveness of short, pithy phrases are far easier to remember than long sermons, treatises, or motivational speeches. Would you believe that one of Warren’s slogans for his church is “We’re saved to serve”?
4) Stories – The purpose is effectively dramatized through personal stories of those who have either lived out the message of the church or been the recipients of its ministry.
5) Specifics – Plans, programs, property and personnel are all put in place and assessed in terms of how they serve the purpose of the church. Warren asserts, “Nothing becomes dynamic until it becomes specific.”
Make the field a priority
When I first read this section of Purpose Driven Church, I thought for sure that Rick Warren had studied the history and methodology of The Salvation Army. Did you ever wonder why General John Gowans’ summary of the Army’s mission caught on like wildfire throughout the international Army? It is not because “save souls, grow saints, serve suffering humanity” is a slick, catchy phrase to communicate an innovation in mission. It is because it struck a chord in the hearts of Salvationists, for we recognized what we had already known, for we had heard it in multiple forms, we had seen it and even sung about it…
Salvation and holiness meetings used the scriptures to teach that deliverance, purity and ministry were biblical concepts. The symbols of crest, flag, and mercy seat visually remind us of our beliefs and affirm that we are truly a Salvation people. Slogans have run off the tip of our tongue since some of us were children–“saved to serve,” “saved and sanctified,” “saved to save,” “serving with heart to God and hand to man,” “blood and fire.” And stories–why, the “testimony period” in our meetings gave ample opportunity for anyone to show how the mission had been personalized. Many of our lives have been shaped by those who have witnessed to the saving and sanctifying power of God and their joy in service.
The Salvation Army is always dynamic when in obedience to the one who called us to mission; we are purposeful (specific) in what we do and how we build, and when we place before all who serve, whether officer, soldier, employee or volunteer, a clear communication of the Army’s identity and mission. And don’t forget our songs (Rick Warren needs to add this one). While we rejoice in the freedom of singing the new worship choruses, we need to retrieve the great hymns and songs that remind us that we were raised up by God to save souls, grow saints and serve suffering humanity.