Why do we do what we do? (The Four Questions)



I’m sure that many of you are familiar with the anecdotal tale of a young bride who was preparing her first family dinner.  As she was about to put a large roast into the oven to begin baking, her mother stopped her and said “You have to cut three inches off the roast before you bake it.”  Puzzled, the daughter asked her mother “Why?”  “Because that’s the way my mother taught me to do it, and she always makes the best roast lamb” said the mother.  Still puzzled, the daughter went to find her grandmother.  “Nana,” she asked, “Mom says you have to cut three inches off of the roast before putting it in the oven to bake.  Why?”  “Well dear, when I was a new bride and I baked my first roast lamb for dinner the lamb was eighteen inches long.  The largest roasting pan I had was fifteen inches long, so I had to cut three inches off of the lamb to make it fit the pan.”  The bride realized that her mother has been unnecessarily discarding three inches from of every roast she has ever cooked because she had never thought to ask, “Why?”

When was the last time you stepped back and took a good look at your daily routine and asked, “Why do we do this?”  Recently, I was confronted with this opportunity while having a conversation with a fellow church planter.  He said, “You guys seem to be intentionally stifling your numeric growth.  How do you intend to pay bills and gather volunteers?”  Essentially, he was reviewing a list of our behaviors and asking, “Why do you do that?”  It is an excellent question.  And we were most pleased to answer him.

While we had never identified our approach as an “intentional stifling” of growth,[1] we do know what he is referring to.  We prefer to identify it as an intentional approach to healthy growth.  We are warring against the revolving front door that results in many people coming and going without being engaged for the sake of discipleship.  If discipleship is our goal for the future, then it must dictate today’s structure and practices.  If we are going to thrive we must have leaders in place who fully affirm the vision and have a heart for making disciples.

Typically, the objective of a new church is to gather as many people as possible for the sake of covering the volunteer and financial needs.  Marketing tactics (e.g. mass mailers and events) are standard operating procedure during the early days of a church plant and it seemed odd to our fellow church planter that we had chosen to deemphasize these practices.  We should be clear on one notable point — we are by no means critical of marketing.  In fact, we will be taking advantage of some of these practices this fall. [2]  Also, we fully appreciate the reasoning behind his question; we are experientially aware of the need for volunteers and finances.  But if discipleship is our priority, then it seems shortsighted to allow these “needs” (please note our use of quotation marks) to drive our mission.  We had two concerns that influenced the manner in which we are approaching our church model:

1)    We have concluded that it is necessary to have a strong representation of leaders in place prior to a mass influx of people.  These leaders are essential in that they are arbiters of The Embassy Church’s language and culture.  When new people come, they will meet people that already understand the mission and our desired impact on the city for the sake of the gospel.
2)    While we do not dismiss the legitimacy of “attractional” actions by the church, our DNA calls us to prioritize the “missional” mandate of Matthew 28:18-20.  In other words, it is more important to us to have Embassadors that “Go…and make disciples…” instead of merely inviting them to “church.”  Again, we recognize the legitimacy of inviting people to the worship gathering.  But we would prefer they be invited as the guests of missional disciple-makers who are living with Gospel intentionality.

With these two points in mind we decided that we should dedicate our first twelve months to the finding, equipping, and launching of missional leaders.  God has already affirmed this decision by bringing many leaders to The Embassy Church who have hearts for the city and resonate with our vision.[3]  But one thing became very clear to us; if we intend for the vision to be contagious we must word it in a concise, memorable, and clear manner.[4]  For us, this boiled the mission down to the four questions that every Embassador should be able to answer. [5]

1)    What are we doing?  (The Mission)
2)    Why are we doing it?  (The Values)
3)    How are we going to get it done?  (The Strategies)
4)    When do we have a win?  (The Measure)

If you know the answers to these four questions and see the vision picture that they are framing you will know all that there is to know about The Embassy Church.  More importantly, you will see the results of us asking, “Why do we do what we do?”  We will cheat and give you the answers the four questions now.

We are making God famous throughout the world.

He is uniquely worthy of such attention.  All things were created and designed to make him famous.

Missional Communities
Worship Gatherings
“Sacred Space”

4) WHEN DO WE WIN? (What is our measure of success?)
We win every time the number of disciple-makers increases.

We will unpack the answers to each of these questions over the next few weeks of our blog series.  We would love to see this initiate a conversation among our readers for the sake of clarity on who we are and what we are about.  Post any comments and questions below and let’s discuss what it means to make God famous throughout the world.

Brandon Washington
The Embassy Church
…making God famous throughout the world.


[1] We were concerned that we were growing too fast.  I guess its all a matter of perspective.

[2] Social networking is the “Areopagus” (Acts 17:16-34) of our day.  The call to be a missionary and contextualize compels us to redeem this means of engaging.

[3] There has been such an influx of leaders that we will be launching six Missional Communities this summer and will have as many as ten by the end of the year.  If you have never heard of a missional community, stay tuned as we will be discussing them in week four of this blog series.  If you can’t wait you can watch Pastor Jeff Vandertelt discuss them hear: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lc4tsw3kCok

[4] Will Mancini, Church Unique, (San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, 2008)

[5] Mancini refers to these four points as: 1) Mission, 2) Values, 3) Strategies, and 4) Measures.  But we prefer the 4-questions format, which we inherited from Pastor Brett Crimmel of Forefront Church.

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