Why Do We Exist?

Patrick Lencioni wrote a best-selling book called, The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business¹. He wrote primarily for businesses, yet organizational health is certainly important to the Church also. One of six critical questions any organization should ask, according to Lencioni, is “Why do we exist?” According to Lencioni, “Employees in every organization, and at every level, need to know that at the heart of what they do lies something grand and aspirational.”

There’s no doubt that what we do as a Christian congregation is grand and aspirational. The question we face during this interim time of reflection is, how do we express what we do and believe in a clear and unambiguous way? Can we state what is at the heart of our ministry in such a way that every member, staff person, and friend of Good Shepherd know what we will or will not compromise? Our transition team will soon be enlisting the help of the entire congregation to formulate a core principle that can be used as a guiding star, leading us clearly into the future.

Not long ago, my wife Ruth and I were browsing through the showrooms of Ikea, a Swedish world-wide distributer that professes to offer “affordable solutions for better living.” Ikea certainly doesn’t sell high-end furniture. Their average customer, I suspect, is a young student-type, on a sctrict budget and trying to find decent looking furniture at an affordable price. It’s hard to deny, though, that Ikea has mastered the art of marketing, which is, to be honest, what we are about as evangelists for Christ. As an Air Force chaplain, when people wanted to make me responsible for the weather, I would say, “I’m sorry, but I’m in sales, not management.” So, when I see a sign on an Ikea sales floor that says, “We will produce more; we will ship faster; but we will never, ever compromise on quality,” what I see is a very clear and precise statement of the values that drive that company.

What we are looking for at Good Shepherd, among other things, is a clear and precise statement of what “drives us”. Long before GPS, ships could sail thousands of miles of trackless ocean by focusing on one guiding star. What will be our guiding star? Surely it has something to do with Jesus. Surely love and sacrifice and service are evident. The Apostle’s Creed, and the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20) will be good resources. What grand inspirational statement will precisely tell the world, and ourselves, what values we will or will not compromise? How will we define the answer to that simple, but profound question, “why do we exist?” It’s a tall order, to perfect such a statement, but we will surely gain something in the effort.

Blessings to You,

Pastor John


¹Jossey-Bass, San Fransisco, 2012, p.82