It is not only important, but essential, for an organization to have a purpose. Not only a general purpose, but specific ones which have measurable and immeasurable objectives. The institutions of the world seek various purposes, some admirable and others not so much, whose primary motivations are temporal and worldly. What distinguishes God's people, particularly His church, is that all our purposes are rooted in an eternal God, eternal souls, and eternal life.
If you ask most church members what the purpose of their local church is, you are likely to hear scriptural, although very broad statements like: preach the gospel, baptize, teach, etc. When I hear people talk in such broad terms I often feel sort of empty. It is not that any of these are wrong, because we know those are instructions left to us by Christ in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). It's just they are so broad and immeasurable that people don't feel accountable to act or inspired when they accomplish them. In short, their is no personal connection to them.
To get to the core of our purpose we ought to ask follow up questions which have more detail. Questions like: What specific demographic or group of people in our community are we trying to reach? Orphans? Widows? Academics? Poor? Young? Or some combination of them? Who are we trying to teach? What are we trying to teach them and to what end? What will they be able to do with the things they are learning? How can they use them for the benefit of the Lord and within the context of His church?
Again, not everything we do in the Lord's work is measurable, nor should all of it be as specific as the questions listed above. However, I believe that God's people would be more motivated and engaged in the work of the church if they had more clearly defined goals directly tailored to the needs of their community and the gifts possessed by the members of their local church.
Purpose in Ghana
The primary purpose of the Gold Coast Mission Fund is to help the well-established churches become self-sustaining. This includes areas such as: finances, education, mission work, church planting, ordinations, writing literature, translations, and so much more. Having traveled there twice and preparing for a third trip, after talking with some of the elders from the native churches as well as some from the United States; the Gold Coast Mission Fund believes that to accomplish this goal the elders, deacons, ministers, and other church leaders must be well educated about:
1. The gospel message
2. The purpose of the Lord's church
3. The proper offices in the church and how they are to function
4. Suitable and helpful ways to conduct mission work
5. How to disciple new converts
We are striving to teach the churches and mission works what the Bible teaches, where in the Bible it teaches these things, and why it is important to implement those biblical principles within our personal lives and the church. Some of the Ghanaians who have visited the United States and seen examples of well-established churches understand what needs to be done. However, it is important that all of the leaders of the church be grounded before the work can continue to grow to it's fullest potential.
This past summer, Brother Jonathon Elliot, Jeff Elliott, and I traveled to Ghana and really focused on the Gospel Message and the purpose of Lord's Church. All of the ministers and deacons from the country were able to attend this meeting and it went very well. They requested that we come back for similar conferences in the future. The Gold Coast Mission Fund also produced a workbook over the book of Romans to help our native Ghanaian brethren learn more about the gospel message. In short, we have focused this past year on numbers 1 and 2 in the above list.
In January 2017, Brother Danny Chandler and five other brethren will be traveling to Kumasi, Ghana to hold another Deacon and Ministers Conference. A large group of the ministers and deacons from around the country are planning to attend. They intend to focus largely on proper ways to handle money (as a church, mission work, minister, etc.) AND important things to do while conducting mission work. This includes both scriptural precedent and practical tips.
When the church leaders begin to accept, practice, and advocate these things, we will begin focusing on teaching the local churches these same things. As the churches adopt these new(er) practices, we will begin the process of reallocating our financial support and attention from the more established churches to the newer mission works. For this work to grow, it is vital that as the churches mature, they take on more of the financial responsibilities the field demands including: building repairs, supporting ministers, supporting local missions, and more. Given the overall economic level of the nation, there might always be a need for special occasions where the more established churches need financial help. However, for any church and area to thrive, this cannot be the norm.
Please pray for the church leaders that are being exposed to some of these teachings for the first time. Pray that God would help raise up men of integrity who put the cause of the Lord first and who desire to see their particular field of labor flourish. Also pray for those making decisions on behalf of the fund. It is not a light matter to make these decisions and we need the direction of the Almighty to do what is most honoring to Him and helpful for the churches and missions in Ghana. On behalf of our Ghanaian churches and missions, thank you so much for the prayers and financial support. We pray you have a blessed Christmas and an upcoming year full of many spiritual victories.