Means and Ends

At Biblijski institut, we’ve been talking a lot recently about our mission and vision, etc.  As we have distilled it: we exist to partner with churches and other ministries to expand God’s Kingdom in our region through education, training, research, and networking.  (We have a couple of different statements for different audiences, but they both mean the same thing.)

We try to weave that mission through everything we do.

  • For example, I frequently say that one of my core convictions is that we do not succeed unless the churches are stronger.  No matter how many students we have, how many articles and monographs our faculty publish, etc., etc., if the churches in Croatia and the surrounding countries don’t thrive then Biblijski institut has failed.
  • Another example: if part of our calling is partnering with churches and other ministries, then everything we plan should involve partnerships with those churches and other ministries.  We shouldn’t be planning events on our own, just for us.  We should be working with other ministries and helping them connect (“network”) with each other.

As I’ve been thinking about our mission, I’ve also been thinking about some things Andy Stanley says on his Leadership podcast.  He observes that people usually think about mission and purpose in terms of “WHAT are we here for?”

Stanley suggests that a better question is “WHO are we here for?”  If we know the WHO, that will usually guide us to the WHAT.  In our case, we’re here to serve the churches and ministries.  This quickly clarifies the “what”.

Another thing Stanley observes is that it’s human nature, when we think about mission and purpose, think about ourselves as the end toward which we are working; what will this produce for me?  where will I end up, or what will I end up doing?

Stanley says that that’s the wrong way to see ourselves.

In any missional organization, the organization is NOT the end, the goal is not about the organization.  The organization is the MEANS to an END for someone else.

If you work in a missional organization, YOU ARE NOT THE END.  THE GOAL IS NOT ABOUT YOU.  The goal is about what you do (the means) for someone else’s benefit, growth, health, thriving (the end).

Who does Biblijski institut exist for?  NOT OURSELVES.  Not for our supporting churches in America or our individual supporters.  Like us, they are the means, coworkers with us for someone else’s benefit.  

Who do we exist for?  We exist for the Body of Christ in our region, the churches that we serve.

This is how Paul understood his ministry: not for himself, not about himself, but for and about what God was doing for people through him.  Eugene Peterson paraphrases beautifully the opening verses of 2 Cor 3:

“Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives—and we publish it. … You, written by Christ himself for God, are our letter of recommendation.”

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