I once attended a small women’s college where I heard rumors that a former graduate had endowed the school with enough money to provide fresh flowers for the dining room tables for an unlimited future. Another alumnae, it was said, had made her gift on the condition that the school kitchen always hire Chinese cooks. Whether these rumors were true or not, they taught me about the folly of establishing any “mission” that is permanent. How will it help the school to have fresh flowers if the buildings are in disrepair, or if they can’t afford to pay the faculty? And is a college even allowed to “only hire Chinese cooks” in this day and age?
The historic mission of a living church will change, too. Many urban churches were built to provide spiritual nurture for particular ethnic groups that eventually moved out of the neighborhood. Some rural churches were built as “family churches” serving two or three extended farm families. Then the children of those families moved away.
Here’s an article from the Alban Institute by Dan Hotchkiss about what he calls “refounding” a church’s mission.
What is your church’s historic mission? If you’re not sure, ask around. The key stories of patriarchs will hint at the purpose God had for your church in the past. That purpose, no matter how honorable, may no longer be relevant. Or it may be very relevant, but forgotten in practice!
Has your church’s mission been lost? Can it be “re-found”?