Discovering Your Church’s Purpose (Part 2)

(This is Part 2 of a 2-Part series. Go to this link for Part 1.)

Three Commands that Provides the Framework for Your Church’s Purpose

You may be wondering if this “strategy” is just as applicable to a secular organisation. Yes, it can be. Any organisation (whether religious, business or non-profit) can apply this strategy, except that we need to note a couple of very critical points.

We must never forget that discovering and fulfilling a church’s purpose is about doing God’s will. Hence, the first step must always be prayer; to seek the Lord for His leading. This was something Nehemiah did when he first heard the bad report about Jerusalem. The revelation and understanding about what he was to do came from his time of prayer. It is expected that pastors and church leaders are to do this first, and right through the whole process of determining the specific purpose of the church. (If a leader of a business or a non-profit organisation is a Christian, he or she should do the same. God did not intend that there be a dichotomy between the secular and the religious; everything is spiritual.)

Secondly, the church’s purpose must be etched out from a Biblical framework. The church’s purpose is not about making money; it’s bottom-line is not about profits. Or, even about growing bigger and faster, and having a nicer building than the other churches in town. The framework of a church’s purpose is shaped by the three Biblical commands: 1. The Great Commission, 2. The Great Commandment, and 3. The Great Mandate.

The Great Commission (Mt 28:19-20) is about making disciples. If we fail to do this, even if we might be pursuing some other noble cause and succeed at it, we have failed as the Church of Jesus Christ. The Gospel of the Kingdom is about saving lost people and transforming them into Christlikeness, and then engaging them in the mission of the Kingdom of God. Everything we do must begin and end with the Great Commission as our primary objective. That must shape a church’s purpose.

The second piece of the framework is the Great Commandment. Jesus said, “The most important one [commandment] is this: ‘…Love the Lord your God with all  your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’….” (Mk 12:29-31). The church is called to love God and people. If our purpose does not lead us to love God and people then there must be something amiss with our purpose. It cannot be God’s purpose. If making disciples is the church’s primary objective; love is the church’s primary motive in all that we do.

The third piece of the framework is the Great Mandate (or, Creation Mandate), which the Lord gave to the first man and woman. “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’” (Gen 1:28). The Lord’s mandate to mankind: To take charge of His world; has not been revoked. He made us His stewards, and as stewards we are to care for the world; not just consume its resources. It is also about how we manage (govern) our society, champion in matters of social justice and care for the marginalised. How a church carries out its purpose must not violate the Great Mandate; rather it must ensure that its purpose fulfils it.

A couple of examples of what a church can do includes cleaning up the streets and side-walks, and planting trees around the community. Not only does this fulfil the Great Mandate, the concern and care for the environment is a powerful witness to people around the church about the values of the Kingdom of God.  On a larger scale, we have the efforts of a number of Singaporean churches working in concert to carry out sustainable development in every province in the nation of Timor Leste. This is an incredible testimony to the Church of Jesus Christ which in turn gives it credibility and opportunity to witness to a whole nation.

When a church thinks about its purpose it needs to ask:

  1. Does our purpose fulfil the Great Commission?
  2. Does our purpose express the Great Commandment?
  3. Does our purpose honour the Great Mandate?
  4. How is our purpose guided by these three parts of the Biblical framework?

The church is not to do something simply because the need is there or because it feels like doing it. Neither does it just do anything simply because it has the resources to do it. Why the church is doing whatever it is doing must be guided by the above Biblical framework.


Putting the three components and the three commandments together is one of the best ways to help your church determine a clear Biblical purpose that is specific to it. But don’t do this by simply putting on your thinking cap. Do this with much prayer and dependence on the Holy Spirit to show you the heart of the Father.

For Your Church Leaders’ Group Discussion

  1. What needs do we see in the community where our church is located?*
  2. What are we passionate about?
  3. What abilities and resources do we have?
  4. Where do the needs, our passion and our abilities align?
  5. How might we express in a statement what we believe may be the Lord’s specific purpose for our church?
  6. Does our purpose fulfil the Great Commission?
  7. Does our purpose express the Great Commandment?
  8. Does our purpose honour the Great Mandate?
  9. How is our purpose guided by these three parts of the Biblical framework?
  10. Does the purpose statement we wrote earlier need changing or refining in light of the Biblical framework? How might we express it better?

* This process may be used to determine your church’s purpose beyond your immediate community. But it’s good to begin here.


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