Thursday, August 12, 2010

Gleanings from the Pastor's Perspective: The Mission of FPCJ

The Pastor’s Perspective
“The Mission of FPCJ”
First Published: September 30, 2003

Last week, I began a series, in this column, dealing with a “vision” for the future of First Presbyterian Church. By that, I mean that I will attempt to clearly articulate, set forth and explain the focused goals of my service among you, as well as my dreams for the future health, growth and ministry of the church. Last time, we talked about the sources of this “vision.” This week, I want to look at the church’s “Mission Statement.”

A number of years ago (long before I came as minister), the Session adopted this helpful formulation of this church’s mission and purpose. Our church’s “Mission Statement” reads as follows:

"Church Mission/Purpose – First Presbyterian Church is a member of the Presbyterian Church in America. We believe that the Holy Scriptures are the infallible word of God and are our only guide for faith and life. We therefore believe that adherence to the Scriptures and this system of belief known as the Reformed Faith demands a vital and vibrant witness because men are spiritually lost apart from faith in Jesus Christ. Many challenging opportunities present themselves to the believer in Jesus Christ - opportunities to witness, to serve, to grow spiritually, and to apply faith in every area of life. Our highest aim is to glorify God and to promote His kingdom."

It goes on to specify three areas or aspects of its work (Worship - Discipleship - Outreach) and then says:

"First Presbyterian Church purposes to stand as a Reformed witness to Jackson, the surrounding community, and ultimately to the world through the proclamation of the whole counsel of God as written in the verbally inspired, infallible Scriptures. With His word as our authority, this body of believers seeks to glorify God through regular public worship characterized by the faithful preaching and teaching of the word in order to encourage and equip the saints to do the work of the church in ministering to individuals, families, the community and the world. Through Christian education, fellowship, evangelism, discipleship, and mission opportunities, First Presbyterian Church seeks to be obedient in fulfilling the Great Commission of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ."

Our mission is clear, biblical, and thus not up for review. I am fully committed to it, without reservation or desire for amendment. The question is, how does it translate into the matter of the “vision of the church” 5, 10, or 25 years down the road? And further, how does it inform our approach to spiritual health, ministry, growth and expansion issues? We will begin our quest to answer such questions (humbly and in total dependence upon the Lord), in next week’s column.

We have recently entered into the eighth year of my ministry here at First Presbyterian, so this is a good time to pause and reflect on where we are and where we are going. So, next week, we’ll begin considering the “where we are” part.

Your friend,

Ligon Duncan

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