Have been thinking about something over the past few mornings relative to the mission of the church. I have read a lot of mission statements for churches that basically say this: "our mission is to make disciples". Rooted in the Great Commission that Jesus articulated just before he left the earth (Matt. 28), this is a Biblical directive.
The question I have is "Who was this command given to; to the church as an organization or to individuals?"
Most churches have taken this as a directive to them as an organization. Because of this organizational focus of the Great Commission, I have found most people view their mission as "getting people to go to church". Once they have completed this mission or job, they assume that "the church" will make them a disciple. I have heard statements like "if I can just get them to come to church, then......." and "I have invited them to come to church hoping that the church can help them change". As someone who works at a church, that burden is too much to carry because there is no way the pastor is going to understand and participate in the context of each person's life in order to understand how to disciple them.
I believe that the Great Commission was a personal command - it was given to you and to me. It is our job, as individuals, to introduce our friends and the people in our life circle to Christ and, if they accept Him, to help them understand what living a life that is pleasing to Him looks like. We facilitate this by understanding where they are at, bringing God to light in their life situations and teaching them to obey everything Jesus has commanded.
This puts a whole new spin on the church as an organization doesn't it. If the mission of the church is not to make disciples, what is its mission? Why do we as Christians need to gather together? I believe the church's mission is twofold: equip (Eph. 4:11-12) and encourage (Heb 10:25) individual Christians to make disciples. The mission that Jesus gave believers is hard; we need to understand how to do it, we need to understand how certain commandments apply in certain situations, we need encouragement in staying true to our mission because it is hard and we loose focus, etc. That is why we need to gather and why we need pastors, evangelists and teachers.
Maybe a better mission statement for a church would be "to equip and encourage believers to make disciples". Needs some linguistic work, but the focus is that the church as an organization is to support individual believers as they complete their mission of making disciples.