In our last post we agreed that many churches are aligned with a particular mission, but not necessarily with their purpose as a church (making new disciples). Some churches align every ministry effort with a mission to be family friendly. In order to do so they have children's athletic leagues, VBS, Lads and Dads camps, and Sunday evening youth group meetings. These are all great things to do. But alignment with a family friendly ministry does not necessarily align the local church activities with the purpose of making new disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. So how could it work, honoring both the purpose and mission of any given church? For instance in the above example, a children's basketball league might waive registration fees for all children who regularly attend worship services. Coaches would be expected to pray before and after every game. At each practice there could be a 5 minute WWJD session with the kids on subjects like "after a foul, turn the other cheek," or "treat all players, gifted or not so gifted, with dignity and respect." There could be a "God Sighting" led by a different player each week (when have you felt or seen God's presence this week) before each game. These need to be age appropriate, discipleship training, activities built into basic skill and teamwork training.
Here are some other simple rules for every local church program that help us align with our purpose:
1. Get names, email addresses( and church history when possible with a simple question: are you now or have you been a member of a church?) from all participants
2. Have a team of church leaders visit in the homes of participants to build a relationship.
3. When possible have a mandatory parent meeting early on that includes "We are a church that happens to have a basketball league for young people, we are not a basketball league that happens to meet in a church."
4. Make sure there is recognition and reward for participants and their achievements built into Sunday morning worship at the conclusion of the season.
5. Have a "now what?" wrap up or exit interview with each participant at the conclusion of the league activity.
The goal is to practice alignment with our purpose, not just alignment with a particular activity group.