SBC: A Unique Church
By Pastor Larry
What would happen if every church were able to identify its unique God-given purpose? What difference would it make if, instead of trying to copy programs and ministry initiatives from successful churches, every local church pursued its unique God-given purpose? What if, instead of trying to be all things to all people, every local church knew that it was called to serve the purposes of God in a way that was unique to its setting?
Is such an idea even possible? Shouldn’t every church simply pursue the universal purposes of God? Are we not all called to worship, build up, reach out, encourage and grow in faith? If so, why try to be unique when we are all trying to do the same thing? Is trying to be unique just a marketing fad?
Let’s begin with a very simple observation: As a creator, our God obviously loves uniqueness. Consider the examples of uniqueness that every human being possesses. Our fingerprints, voice patterns, and thought process, just to name a few, are all unique because of our individual DNA. Again, consider how many unique types of flora and fauna inhabit our planet fitting into unique ecosystems that are not repeated anywhere else. Clearly God loves uniqueness in the world he created and I believe he also loves uniqueness in his church.
The people, gifting, calling and purpose of every local church is unique. What he intends for our church is not necessarily what he intends for the church across town. He has a purpose for our church, at this time, in this place, for his glory. I believe that many of us already sense this truth in small ways. Have you ever noticed how some churches just seem to attract a certain type of person? Ever recognized how some churches seem to find children’s ministry easy while others have no shortage of service and compassion ministries? Ever stopped to wonder why some churches sing the same songs but seem to do them just a little differently than the church across the road? Have you ever asked yourself why the N.T. contains letters to churches with unique lessons that were not repeated universally? Is it because every church is unique?
I believe that every church is unique. I believe that SBC is unique and we have a God-given calling to serve him in this place, at this time for his glory. I believe that while we are part of a family of churches and therefore have some similarities, we are still unique.
What I am not sure about is that we always recognize and have pursued our uniqueness for the glory of God.
That is why our Leadership Board has been on a journey for over a year now of praying, reading and reviewing our vision. Unlike many vision processes which quickly produce a document and some recommendations for action, the vision process our Board has pursued has been slow, methodical and intentional in trying to frame SBC’s unique vision.
Following the advice and pattern of Church Unique i by Will Mancini we have wrestled with the common pieces of most vision processes. Mission, Values, Strategy and Life Marks have been our focus as we have tried to articulate our unique SBC identity and purpose. These four pieces function like a picture frame which highlights the unique purpose or vision of SBC. The graphic which follows helps to clarify the process.
Did our Leadership Board engage this process because we had nothing better to do? Did we prayerfully reflect and struggle with words because we wanted to “brand and market” SBC more effectively? Was all of this effort about some new trend that we won’t even think about or remember five or ten years from now?
We believe that SBC is a unique church, called by God to serve him at this time and in this valley for his glory and we don’t want to miss that purpose by either just doing what we have always done or by trying to be all things to all people. We want to discover and unapologetically embrace our God-given uniqueness and invite others to the journey.
Therefore, over time, we are going to walk you through the journey piece by piece and explain what we have prayerfully discovered because we believe we have discovered or have reaffirmed that we are indeed a Unique Church.
i Will Mancini. Church Unique. (San Francisco, CA. Jossey-Bass Pub) 2008