The Church Must Remember Its Mission

June 7, 2009

“Alcoholics Anonymous® is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with each other that they may solve their common problem and help others to recover from alcoholism. The only requirement for membership is a desire to stop drinking. There are no dues or fees for AA membership; we are self-supporting through our own contributions. AA is not allied with any sect, denomination, politics, organization or institution; does not wish to engage in any controversy, neither endorses nor opposes any causes. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.”

Since the 1930s, Alcoholics Anonymous has been helping people overcome enslavement to alcohol. Do you know what A.A. has not done? They have not opened orphan’s homes, started hospitals, run day schools. They have not started food kitchens, held clothing drives, hosted parties. They have not made donations to the American Cancer Society, the American Diabetes Association, or VA hospitals. They have never endorsed a political candidate. They have never gotten involved in social welfare. Do you know what they have done? They have helped one person at a time be free from the enslavement of alcohol.

A.A. began in 1935 when two men met and began to think about how they could help each other stop drinking alcohol. Now, A.A. has more than 2 million members. Do you know what A.A. never did? They never held a Super Bowl party to invite folks to hang out and maybe join once they felt comfortable. They didn’t set up youth groups to entertain young people into their fellowship. They have never held a concert in hopes of getting people to check them out and maybe become a member. They have never hosted a Mother’s Day Out program to attract female members. Do you know what they have done? They have taught each member to share with other strugglers the freedom from alcohol they have found through the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Please, do not misunderstand me. Alcoholics Anonymous is not the model for the church. We find the model for the modern church on the pages of the New Testament. No doubt, there are some things about A.A. Christ’s church must never mimic. However, I do think we can learn something from A.A. That organization has stayed focused on its mission for going on 75 years. They have quietly done their work. They have not worried when people spoke ill of them. They have not changed their mission to be more eclectic. They haven’t tried gimmicks to get people involved. They have simply helped people be free from alcohol. The changes in their lives have been their biggest testimony.

What could a local church do if it took this same approach? What if we remembered that our mission is to free people from the clutches of sin and Satan by the blood, grace, and will of Jesus Christ (cf. II Timothy 2:24-26; Romans 7:15-25; Ephesians 2:1-10; Jude 20-23)? Our mission is not to entertain, feed, educate, politicize, or even just play church. Our mission is not to provide social welfare, medicine, or Thanksgiving dinners. Our mission is to set people free with Jesus’ truth (cf. John 8:32). Certainly, all those other things are good and needed in our society. However, none of them are the church’s mission. Let us focus on our mission of setting folks free through Jesus.

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UPDATE 1/20/2024 at 7 pm:
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