So That Churches
So That Churches
One of the most important steps in starting a new church is gaining clarity around your vision and mission. In the book I wrote, Roadmap to Renewal, I emphasized the importance of two key words when articulating a Mission Statement for the church. The words are “so that.” Lovett Weems and Tom Berlin agree. In their book, Bearing Fruit: Ministry with Real Results (Abingdon, 2011), they dedicate an entire chapter to the same two words: so that.
Weems and Berlin point to scripture where the two words give power and importance. Think of John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that (italics added) everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” Weems and Berlin call these two words “the two most powerful words for leadership.” The Bible is replete with verses where these two powerful words are invoked.
As I mentioned in Roadmap to Renewal, the “so that” answers the important question, “Why are we called to do this mission?” Weems and Berlin believe the two words lead the church to focus on the fruitfulness of their mission and ministry. “So that” gives clarity as to the purpose for what we do as a church. “Having a clear so that statement helps to keep everyone focused on the end and not just the means,” write Weems and Berlin. They remind us of another famous biblical passage that includes the two words: “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that (italics added) you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Romans 12:2).
Here are some samples of Mission Statements referred to in Roadmap to Renewal that are empowered by the two words, “so that.”
“Jesus calls us to reach out with God’s Love, Hospitality, Hope and Healing so that all may experience and share the joy of Belonging to Him!” --Gulf Breeze United Methodist Church, Pensacola, Florida.
“As persons growing in Christian Discipleship, we encourage all people to grow in their relationship with God and one another so that all may experience the fullness of Christian Life.” --Bishop Janes United Methodist Church, Basking Ridge, NJ.
In these examples, the Gulf Breeze UMC wants us to know that the purpose of their mission is so that all may experience and share this joy. Likewise, Bishop Janes UMC engages in mission “so that” all may experience the fullness of Christian life.
Your mission statement should be a reflection of what your church does. For the purpose of greater clarity, I would encourage a new church to include the “so that” clause. Both church insiders and those outside will understand more clearly the purpose of the mission. (See Roadmap to Renewal, p. 86.)