Over the years I have experimented with a variety of ‘strap lines’ for the church.
At one stage, for instance, stated on church publicity, ‘Central Baptist Church – going Christ’s way and making disciples’. Perhaps for church people this constant reminder of our mission statement was helpful – but frankly it must have meant very little to people outside the church.
More recently, we used to say on letters going out from the church ‘Central Baptist Church – transforming lives and changing community’. No doubt for church people this constant reminder of two of our values was helpful. Furthermore, it would have had some meaning for people outside the church. But it was not an attractive statement. True it might have attracted Christians in other churches to be part of our community, but I can’t see it holding much attraction for people of no faith.
So I dreamt up another strap-line: ‘Central Baptist Church – a place to belong’. Ideally I would have preferred to have stated: ‘Central Baptist Church – the place to belong’, but some of my colleagues felt that was over-egging it! This surely is a much better strap-line as far as Jo Public is concerned. In a world where many are lonely and are crying out for community, people want to belong to a group where they feel loved, valued and affirmed. On reflection we need to make more of this strap-line: we need to create well-produced car stickers for people to use!
Of course, there is a danger in using such a strap-line. People within the church could be lulled into believing that this is the sum purpose of our being. If for our members church is simply ‘a place to belong’, then very rapidly we adopt a club mentality. This in turn leads to the terminal illness ‘fellowshipitis in extremis’. It is too our peril thatwe forget that our mission is in fact to ‘go Christ’s way and make disciples’.
The fact is that for internal purposes we need mission statements. We need to remind ourselves that ‘we exist to go Christ’s way and make disciples’. We need vision statements such as ‘We want to be a strong and vibrant town-centre church where every member is passionate for God, passionate for one another, passionate for others, passionate to grow in the faith, and passionate to serve Jesus’. Indeed, we need value statements. ‘In our life together we seek to reflect the following aspects of a genuine Jesus community: warm and welcoming, risk-taking and God-trusting; excited and enthusiastic; sacrificing and resourcing; transforming lives and changing culture’. But for the sake of those outside the church we need an attractive strap-line, such as: ‘Central Baptist Church – a place to belong’.