Somewhere along the line, I stopped being a kid that asked the question “WHY” every chance I got, and started focusing on “WHAT” and “HOW.” Frankly, now as a parent of an 8, 5, and (almost) 2-year-old, I have been conditioned to think the question “WHY” is somewhat annoying.
Me: Brush your teeth. Kid: WHY?
Me: Get your shoes on. Kid: WHY?
Me: Don’t spit in everyone else’s food. Kid: WHY?
In my house, “WHY” has become a question that I feel like I shouldn’t have to answer. “WHY” my kids should and should not do certain things should be understood and, besides, I want my kids to trust in the brilliance of their dad so much that they instead respond with “Of course, Father. It’s an honor to be led by you.” BTW, that has yet to happen!
“WHY” in the church also seems like the type of question that should be naturally understood and not need to be answered. Your WHY is your mission, and certainly the people of the church should know the mission of your church, right? The truth is, for too many churches, the answer to that question is “No.” Not only do the faithful attenders not know it, but even the pastoral staff, and sometimes not even the Lead Pastor. I’m not talking about the catchy statement on your website, and the banners on your walls. I’m talking about the specifics unique to your church about “WHY” it exists.
A painful, but incredibly important, experiment to do is see how well the people of your church can explain the mission. Can your regular attenders? How about the staff and the leadership boards? As painful as it is to find out that many of those folks can’t explain the mission, the worst thing a leader can do is just hope everyone (including themselves) will figure it out.
When thinking of a church’s WHY, it’s good to know that there are certain WHYs that every church has pre-loaded into the DNA. These include:
- Making disciples
- Being salt & light
- Loving God & loving others
Outside of these, and maybe a few others, each individual church has it’s own unique WHY that is core to understanding what to do as a church.
Sadly, for too many years as a church leader I did not ask the question “WHY”, but only “WHAT” & “HOW.” These are certainly good questions, but “WHAT” & “HOW” are answered only on the foundation of (can you guess it?) “WHY.” Without a clear and unified understanding of the WHY amongst your church leadership, the mission of your church will never be fully accomplished.
Without knowing the WHY, your church may be wasting time and resources doing stuff that you’re not supposed to do or, even more disturbing, not doing some of things God wants to be done.
Here are just a few things that happen when a church doesn’t know their WHY:
- Opportunities are missed
- Resources are misused
- Decisions are made without clear direction
- The door is open for disunity and dissension
- God’s mission for your church is not achieved
Every church needs someone (hopefully the senior leader) that is constantly asking “WHY.” This person needs to be continually asking God what the WHY of the church is, “WHY” you’re doing the sermon series your doing, “WHY” more resources are spent on one department than another, etc.
This fundamental concept is true: If you and your people are not CLEAR on WHY you are there, and WHY you do what you do, then you will NOT achieve the mission Jesus has for your church.
I like to play basketball, and I really like to shoot the ball. On occasion, for fun, I close my eyes and shoot the ball. Every once in a while I will actually make the shot, but it’s rare. Shooting the ball with my eyes open and focused on the rim improves my accuracy immensely. This is true for you and your church. Open your eyes, find your WHY, then focus on the WHY and your church will accomplish exponentially more for the Kingdom.