Howard Snyder and Daniel Runyon wrote an excellent book in 2002 called Decoding the Church–Mapping the DNA of Christ’s Body, which provided my own congregation an important theological framework from which to design and communicate our strategy as a congregation in mission. They are called the “Four Greats.”
According to Snyder and Runyon the church has:
A Great Confession
A Great Identification
A Great Communion
A Great Commission
Based on the reflections of Snyder and Runyon, I explain these Four Greats in this way to the people I pastor.
Our Great Confession is “Jesus Christ is Lord.” The church begins when it acknowledges “Jesus is Lord.” It is the foundational reality that identifies us as Christians. It is the Truth that not only sets us free. It is the Truth by which we live. It is our unique and essential message.
Our Great Identification is “We are the Body of Christ.” We are the supernatural organism which continues the work of Jesus today. Often traditional or inward focus congregations have a mindset of “our church” in their perceptions and proclamations. No, we are the Church of Jesus Christ. It is God’s church and we are all an interdependent and interconnected part of it (see I Corinthians 12).
We have a Great Communion. We are united together to equip one another and to support one another, to be empowered to do the work of Jesus Christ in the world. The church is not a bunch of individuals doing their thing for Jesus, it is a community doing the work of the Lord. (Ephesians 4)
Finally, Matthew 25 teaches that we have a Great Commission. Our purpose is to go and make disciples. A church must turn its focus outward and embrace the mission of reconciling people to God. It is not a safe haven for the saved or a fortress against the world, it is a missionary movement to reach the lost and to bring them into the Kingdom of God.
When a church embraces these four greats they can become a Great Church with a Great Vision from a Great God.