Building a Purpose & Proposition Statement
Here’s a version of a scenario we’ve witnessed multiple times:
A potential missionary, or one already on the field, know beyond a doubt they are called. The home church clearly confirms the call. People who know and love the missionary agree there is a clear missionary call. When the same missionary begins the deputization process of communicating the call in writing or face to face, somehow the people not as close to the missionary do not catch the vision. The hearers appreciated and respected the missionaries for being willing to go to foreign lands, but the missionary left without the hearer being able to clearly understand what the purpose and proposition of going was all about.
This is why missionaries and home churches need a clear, concise and certain purpose and proposition statement before the missionary begins deputization and communicating of the vision. In many cases it may actually be needed for the church initially get behind the missionary.
So how does a missionary and home church come up with a purpose and proposition statement? Presuming the call is confirmed and the work is known, I suggest setting time aside to pray, then grab a Bible and a digital or analog device to write with. Without a deadline or urgency, read the below questions and record your immediate response. There will be considerable editing and tightening later, so do not be afraid to fill your pages or hard drive. If you are process better by talking instead of writing, consider asking a trusted advisors or a ministry partner to talk you through each question.
- What is the primary work I’m called to?
- What is your primary purpose in the ministry?
- Whom do you primarily hope to help?
- What unique solution does your coming to the field offer?
- What do you hope to accomplish?
- Why are you going?
- What am I not called to do?
Obviously, not everything you write out will make it into the final purpose and proposition statement. The point is to begin the process of distilling down the information to be able to clearly, concisely and with certainty communicates a God given vision. The final purpose and proposition statement should guide, provide and define a God inspired future allowing for evaluation and review over time.
Paul was able to put all the great things of ministry, and even his life, to the side to boil down his purpose and proposition in ministry as given to him by Jesus Christ, “to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” Similarly, you need to get down to that core essence in as few of words as possible.
Go through your exercise looking for repeated key words and phrases. Begin distilling all the important from that which is good, but not needed. Like Paul, be able to look for what you are called to and discern where and how it brings the gospel. Many good things you expect on the mission field, maybe even many favorite things you will accomplish will not make it to the final purpose and proposition statement.
Now comes the hard part. Give your purpose and proposition in one clear, concise and certain sentence.
- Begin with a strong verb or gerund. For clarity, and those of us that struggled in English comp, a gerund is a noun that has been modified to become a verb. An example is Skyping.
- Include the main purpose for going and who you desire to help.
- Include what you hope to accomplish.
Write out several purpose and proposition statements. Some will vary only in a few words. Sit on them overnight, maybe longer, before narrowing your choices to a few. Ask trusted advisors which statement clearly, concisely and with certainty explains your purpose and proposition as a missionary preparing to go. Take the feedback and refine the statement until you are comfortable it is something you can build the missionary communication around.
Here are good examples
Drilling wells for churches, schools and communities in Kenya.
Pastoral training among tribal people in Guatemala.
Serving refugees in Turkey.
Here are better examples
Bringing living water for physical and eternal life in Kenya.
Training pastors to train other pastors to establish churches among indigenous peoples in Guatemala.
Receiving refugees, providing the love of Christ, leaving hope and grace in Turkey.
These are clear, concise and certain purpose and proposition statements that other communication can be built around. Most importantly, it allows the proposition to engage more and ask more about the ministry.
This article was contributed by Pastor Ed Compean
Photo by Kaleidico on Unsplash