Mission briefing: Mission fit

By Howard Culbertson
Monday, August 14, 2017

Almost a dozen years ago, “to make Christlike disciples in the nations” became the officially-stated mission of the Church of the Nazarene. Of course, while that exact wording may be somewhat recent, what it says is not. Global outreach has been in Nazarene DNA from the very beginning.

ImageOur mission statement announces that we are going beyond counting “decisions.” Our stated core value of being a “holiness people” evokes the Christlikeness theme of the mission statement. In addition, we Nazarenes have never been isolationists.  From the start, we have been involved in disciple-making around the world as well as in our own neighborhoods.

That mission of making Christlike disciples in the nations is not something just for global missionaries sent out by the World Mission office. Money, manpower, and plan making at every level of the denomination must “fit” with both phrases of that mission statement. Indeed, every Nazarene should be involved in some way with both phrases:

1. Making Christlike disciples

2. In the nations

On the local, district, regional and global levels, we must allow the mission statement to shape what we do, when we do it and how we do it.  We must be prayerfully asking: Does this activity or emphasis or decision fit who we are?  Is what we are doing and how we are doing it consistent with the objective of making Christlike disciples in the nations?  


Organizations, businesses and institutions used to say there was “good chemistry” when people, programs, and resources came together to accomplish group goals. In recent years, organizational leaders have moved past the touchy-feely chemistry reference to using “mission-fit” to express alignment with a group’s ultimate goal. If we are to carry out our denomination’s mission, the following items need to be “mission-fit” for us:

  • Every program we run
  • What people see our church being passionate about
  • Daily “to do” lists and goals (written and unwritten)
  • How and who we recruit for workers
  • Curricular and other printed materials (including the content of worship folders)
  • What we encourage people to pray for
  • How we raise and spend church finances
  • The kind of people we promote into leadership
  • The sermon “diet” people are fed weekly
  • The policies and procedures shaping day-to-day activities
  • The spaces used for ministry activities
  • The institutions we organize and run


If some of these things fail “mission-fit” inspection, we may have settled for things that are inconsistent and perhaps even incompatible with our denomination’s stated mission. We need to ask:  Is our vision-casting, strategizing and planning shaped by our stated mission of making Christlike disciples in the nations?  Do we openly encourage new believers to “buy in” to the mission statement?  Do we ask “mission-fit” questions of people moving toward ordination as ministers?

There are lots of words which ought to characterize what we do to carry out our mission. God-centered, transformative, sustainable, culturally appropriate, transparent, reproducible, and empowering all come to mind.  The “icing on the cake,” though, would be having “mission-fit” describe everything from our administration of financial resources to the things we seem most zealous about.