There are two key questions that I believe will help us better understand our assignment as pastors.

David Coffey

In a recent article, Northeast Atlantic District Supervisor Peter Bonanno noted an important question to ask when assessing one’s church: Why do people stay? That’s a great question to consider both in our pursuit of fulfilling our assignment as a church, and as a leader of a local congregation.

I would like to add two more questions that may help us better understand our assignment as pastors, questions derived from an old tale you may have once heard.

At the turn of the century, a rabbi in a Russian city found himself disappointed by a lack of direction and purpose in his life. He wandered out into the chilly evening, aimlessly walking through the empty streets, questioning his faith in God, the Scriptures and his calling to ministry. In his despair, he wandered onto a Russian military compound off limits to civilians.

The silence of the evening air was shattered by the bark of a Russian soldier: “Who are you? What are you doing here?” After a brief moment, the rabbi, in a gracious tone so as not to evoke anger from the soldier, asked, “How much do you get paid every day?”

“What does that have to do with you?” retorted the soldier. The rabbi replied with a tone resembling that of someone who had just made a new discovery: “I will pay you the equal sum if you will ask me those same two questions every day: ‘Who are you?’ and ‘What are you doing here?’”

In leading your church, you may feel a bit like the rabbi in the story, disappointed and wondering if what you do in ministry is having any real impact for Jesus. The questions “Who are you?” and “What are you doing here?” are good to ask not only of yourself personally, but also about the church you lead.

What is your church’s unique purpose and assignment? If the church you lead were to close its doors tomorrow, other than a few people having to find a new place to worship on Sundays would anyone in your community notice?

Far too often, we find ourselves daydreaming about the “what ifs,” and we miss the potential and promise of what God has in store for us right here.

Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009) is considered one of America’s most significant artists. What’s interesting about him is that he was a local artist—he simply lived in his hometown of Chadds Ford, Penn., for 50 years, and never painted anything outside of his immediate surroundings and his summer home in Maine. He just painted where he lived.

Will Mancini, in his book Church Unique, argues that you are in a particular place for a specific purpose, and discovering that purpose will free you from the tyranny of believing you should be doing what someone else is doing.

While this process will take some time and effort, the results can be freeing as you discover the uniqueness of where God has placed you and the collective potential of those He has placed together in your community of believers, and land on what your particular focus of ministry is to be.

You may say that you and your leaders know your community well and are convinced you have done everything you can to reach it for Jesus. I would counter: Try pausing, look a little deeper, and with a prayerful heart ask God to answer these questions both for you and the church you lead: Who are you, and what are you doing here?

The Foursquare Church has three core Missional Objectives to guide our collective missional focus and develop a healthy culture in our churches. These include: (1) leadership development; (2) church and congregation multiplication; and (3) church health and transformation. Learn more about Foursquare’s Missional Objectives.