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Lately I’ve been wrestling with a simple, one-word question: “Why?” Why does my church exist? We have our slogans and our mottos, but do they really direct and guide the “why” of our churches?

If you have been around church long enough, you know we have quick responses regarding why we exist as a church. But recently the Holy Spirit began to change my thinking. I discovered that I had been working really hard on the “what” and “how” questions of our church.

We have a variety of programs and activities, and our services are organized and well planned. We give to and volunteer with local ministries and community organizations, and we do some missions work. However, it is becoming clear to me that it is very easy to get distracted and convince myself that our church is doing all the right things—but have we lost our true focus, the focus on why we do what we do?

Simon Sinek wrote a great business book, Start With Why (Portfolio/Penguin). He describes great companies and great leaders that inspired people and loyalty by remaining focused on the why. For instance, President John F. Kennedy didn’t focus on the specific technology needed to reach the moon; instead he remained focused on the deeper why. The technology was developed, and men landed men on the moon because people were inspired by the why.

Jesus stated very simply, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15, NKJV). Jesus was very clear about why He was there—to bring the gospel of repentance and eternal life. When He went to some fishermen and said, “Follow me,” they immediately dropped their nets and followed Jesus. They understood why.

These first disciples weren’t inspired by what they would be doing, or how they would be doing it—they were inspired by a clear understanding of why Jesus was there. Is the same true of our churches? Are our activities flowing out of why we are here?

I want to be a pastor who is fanatical about why, instead of wrongly prioritizing what and how. Ultimately the Great Commission is to go and make disciples, not to go and develop great programs. I hope you, along with me, will commit to establishing the clear why of our pursuits before we give attention to what and how.

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is the senior pastor of Summit (Longmont Foursquare Church) in Longmont, Colo.