Two or three decades ago, "to make Christlike disciples in the nations"1 became the officially-stated mission of the Church of the Nazarene. Of course, while that exact wording may be somewhat recent, what it says is not. Global outreach has been in Nazarene DNA from the very beginning.
Our mission statement announces that we are going beyond counting "decisions." Our stated core value of being a "holiness people" evokes the Christlikeness theme of the mission statement. In addition, we Nazarenes have never been isolationists. From the start, we have been involved in disciple-making around the world as well as in our own neighborhoods.
That mission of making Christlike disciples in the nations is not something just for global missionaries sent out by the World Mission office. Money, manpower, and plan-making at every level of the denomination should "fit" or be synchronized with both phrases of that mission statement. There must be coherency between what we do and what we say our mission is. Our actions must contribute to the end result we have in mind. Thus, every Nazarene should be involved in some way with both phrases:
On the local, district, regional, and global levels, we must allow the mission statement to shape what we do, when we do it, and how we do it. We must be prayerfully asking: Does this activity or emphasis or decision fit who we are? Are the core values and vision of people in my church congregation in alignment with our mission statement? Is what we are doing and how we are doing it consistent with the objective of making Christlike disciples in the nations? Can we say that we don't just do things because we can or simply because an opportunity presented itself? Do we, as a church, do things because they have meaning for us in terms of our stated mission?
Organizations, businesses and churches used to say there was "good chemistry" when people, programs, and resources came together to accomplish the group stated goals. In recent years, organizational leaders have moved past the touchy-feely chemistry reference to using "mission-fit" to express alignment with a group's ultimate goal. This includes making sure that positions in the church are filled by people that "fit" the needed qualifications and skills and whose core values and vision are aligned with that of the church.
If we are to carry out our church's mission, the following items need to be "mission- fit" for us:
If some of these things fail "mission-fit" inspection, we may have settled for things that are inconsistent and perhaps even incompatible with our denomination's stated mission. We need to ask:
There are lots of words that ought to characterize what we do to carry out our God-given mission. Words that come quickly to mind include: God-centered, transformative, sustainable, culturally appropriate, transparent, reproducible, and empowering. Wouldn't the "icing on the cake," though, be having "mission-fit" describe a coherency running through everything from how our church spends money to the activities we say we are most passionate about?
1Note: In the Bible, the word "nations" does not mean political entities like China, India, and the USA. Rather, it means people groups or societies in which people speak the same language, have the same culture and live in or have originated in the same area. "Nations" is synonymous with the plural word "peoples." In other words, nations in the Bible means all of the people groups of the world other than the people of Israel.
To achieve the mission of making Christlike disciples in the nations means we must check the"mission-fit" alignment of everything we do. Programs, people, and resources must contribute toward the goal of disciple-making. Every Christian must be engaged in some way with making Christlike disciples locally as well as globally. While challenges may arise, such as balancing cultural relevance and sustainability, the pursuit of "mission-fit" will make our endeavors transformative, impactful, and God-pleasing.
-- Howard Culbertson,
This mini-essay on a key issue in world missions outreach is one of 12 articles in the "Mission briefing" series published in Engage magazine.