Matthew 28:16-20 “When they saw Him, they worshiped Him; but some were doubtful. And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
The church, all believers who have chosen to truly follow our risen Lord and Savior, has been given a mission. We are to spread the Gospel, the Good News : Jesus is King. Thankfully a very forgiving King. God sent His Son, Jesus, to reconcile us to Him. We are to engage folks and let them know that whosoever believes in and continues to trust Him will have their sins forgiven and receive salvation, eternal life with Him.
Our mission is not just to create awareness, but to teach people how to live in accordance with the teachings and commands of the King of Kings. The Bible doesn’t give explicit instructions on how best to accomplish that mission, and individual fellowships of believers have tried various methods, strategies, and programs through the years, usually with an eye to their own culture and giftings. An existing focus on Organic Outreach was one of the things that first drew me here to The Fountain.
Most of the world was dramatically affected by Covid, and as we emerge from the fear mentality and associated lockdowns, we find ourselves in a very different society from just a few short years ago. Churches especially are facing new challenges from a sluggish economy and a culture that is increasingly either apathetic or hostile.
The Fountain also has been experiencing a season of change, and in addition to seeking God’s wisdom as to the best way to adapt, we invited some experienced Pastors from Disciple Heritage Fellowship at the beginning of this year to give us a Spiritual Health Assessment. One of several suggestions adopted was to rework our mission statement so that our whole fellowship is continually reminded, in a relevant and memorable way, to carry out Jesus’ Great Commission in Matthew 28.
Our vision statement remains the same: To be a source of living water to Visalia and beyond. This speaks to where we want to go and who we want to be. We have a vision for the Fountain to grow, to be full of active volunteers who serve one another and serve our community in a variety of ways.
Like the woman at the well who walked away changed, we desire to connect people with the living water of Jesus and see deep changes in their lives. To accomplish that goal, we want our entire church family to be willing, and to develop the knowledge and ability to justify and support our faith. We all should be able to engage with others, especially non-believers, as Peter writes in his 2nd letter, “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; “ (1 Peter 3:5)
Our new mission statement: ENGAGE EQUIP EMPOWER
It has been said that even the kids in the children’s ministry should be able to memorize a church’s mission statement. We want to create a shared set of ideas and reminders that keep the whole body of believers on the same page and going in the same direction, encouraging one another in the process.
Let’s look at each point.
ENGAGE: We no longer live in a culture where most people go to church or even believe in God. Recent polls show over 50% of Tulare County identify as having “no religious affiliation.” If we sit in the church and wait for our neighbors to come to us, we aren’t taking Jesus’ commission seriously. Yes, when they do show up, we want to connect with them in the best way possible so that they stay open to hearing that life-saving Gospel message, but we also need to engage the ideas of our culture, find some sort of involvement in the community, and be active in reaching out to our neighbors, friends, family, and co-workers. Jesus called us to be salt and light. That requires interacting with non-Christians around us.
EQUIP: In Matthew 28 Jesus calls his current followers to make more disciples and to teach them to observe His commandments. Sometimes we behave as if Jesus simply said, “Get everyone saved.” Jesus desires more than a one-time decision. He wants people who are growing in Him throughout their whole lives. We can’t separate salvation from discipleship. True salvation leads to the service of discipleship.
Once someone is following Jesus as their King, is counting on Him to pay the price of their sins and is looking to Him for the forgiveness of all their accidental and intentional wrongdoing, it’s up to us to teach them how to be more Christlike. The Fountain will continue to value and provide in-depth Bible studies, intending to solidify faith and to equip Christians with truth and skills to glorify God in their daily lives.
EMPOWER: Once equipped with Bible knowledge and a grounding in the faith, believers, will hopefully want to use some of their time and talents for the Kingdom, springboarding from training to service. This may mean filling a previously unmet need, creating a new volunteer role, or giving an experienced volunteer a chance to switch gears to something else. Ultimately, I am praying for a large, dedicated team working together in harmony, with everyone’s gifts being put to use glorifying God.
As we strive to answer Jesus’ Great Commission, we intend to ENGAGE, EQUIP, AND EMPOWER, envisioning becoming a source of living water to Visalia and beyond.