Developing Your Mission

Image & Mission of Living Bridge Church in Gibsonia, PA. 2011

I’m a firm believer that a well developed AND a well implemented mission statement can make a huge difference in your ministry. The hard parts are developing and implementing. You don’t want a statement that nobody remembers or cares about and of course there really is no point if your leadership and membership don’t embrace the mission as their own. A good mission statement will create excitement, build momentum, strengthen unity, and reinforce vision.

I’ve already written a lot about this, so for your benefit I’ve included links to each relevant article here. I hope you find them helpful.

  • Make it so.
    A reminder that a mission statement is just a bunch of words on paper unless you hit the ‘go’ button and utilize it throughout your ministry.
  • Why Mission?
    A detailed explanation on “why” your church should create and embrace a mission statement.
  • Mission, Mission, On The Wall
    Is your mission just sitting on the wall gathering dust or is it happening down the hall wherever you go? Here are a few indicators that will help you answer that question.
Check out my Resources Page to see more summaries of past series!

Strategy Kickstart: Mission Down The Hall

 

A Strategy Kickstart is a short 3-5 minute video clip which can be used to ‘kickstart’ a strategic discussion in your church or ministry. Simply show the video clip to your team and use the ideas and question posed in the video to stimulate a valuable and hopefully relevant discussion on how you can better fulfill your ministry mission.

In today’s Strategy Kickstart I challenge your team to consider just how effective you have been in connecting your mission to your ministry. This discussion is relevant to have at any stage in your ministry’s development.

For more information about developing and rolling out your ministry mission, check out Mission, Mission, On The Wall and Developing Your Mission!

Mission, Mission, On The Wall

 

Andy Stanley once asked, “Is the statement on the wall actually happening down the hall?” Asked differently, “Is your mission statement simply a bunch of words that sound great or do they represent the heartbeat of your church at every level of ministry?” It can be very satisfying to develop your ministries mission, but it is ultimately a waste of time and energy if it just becomes empty words that are rarely mentioned in the context of weekly ministry.

I wonder how that applies to you? Has your mission been successfully integrated into everyday life in your organization? Here are a few indicators that may help you evaluate whether your ministry mission is simply a ‘On The Wall’ mission (words but no action) or a ‘Down The Hall’ (words and action) mission.

‘On The Wall’ Indicators:
If any of the following are TRUE then it may indicate missional slippage. In your next Strategic Meeting discuss how you can reintegrate your church mission into everyday ministry.

  • You can’t quote your mission from memory.
  • You haven’t personally quoted your mission statement in the last 3 weeks.
  • You haven’t mentioned your mission from the pulpit in the last month.
  • You haven’t “preached” your mission in the last 9 months.
  • You don’t teach your mission to new members in the membership class.
  • Your mission isn’t posted prominently somewhere in the facility and/or on your website.
  • Your mission is long – more than two short sentences.
  • None of your key staff, elders, or board can quote your mission.
  • Your ministry leaders have never heard you talk about how the ministry they lead fits into the church’s mission.
  • When someone introduces a new ministry idea you don’t automatically ask the question, “How will that help us fulfill our mission?”
  • You have never tried to evaluate your effectiveness through the lenses of your mission.
 
‘Down the Hall’ Indicators:
If any of the following are TRUE then it may indicate missional traction. In your next Strategic Meeting discuss how effective this has been and what else you might do to strengthen missional momentum. Obviously these indicators will seem familiarly similar but altogether different from the ‘On the Wall’ indicators.
  • You can quote it from memory right now.
  • Your leadership team has strategically discussed your church mission within the past year (to either develop it, evaluate it, or consider how effectively you are fulfilling it).
  • Your staff, elders, and board can quote your mission or something that closely reflects your mission.
  • Someone has mentioned your church mission in some form from the pulpit within the last three weeks (a worship leader, emcee, during a testimony, on the screens, or in the sermon).
  • You have ‘preached’ about your church mission within the past 9 months (that is, you have preached a message that directly points to why your church exists and/or how you are fulfilling your church mission).
  • Your mission is prominently displayed on your church website.
  • Your mission can be found in several places throughout the church (on the wall, church letterhead, business cards, bulletin, etc.).
  • Your Head Usher (or worship leader, children’s director, etc.) understands how the ministry they lead is fulfilling the church’s mission.
  • Every new member learns about the church’s mission and why it is important.
  • Your church mission reflects a deep passion within you personally. You get excited and emotional when you talk about it.

How to Keep Missional Momentum

A couple of weeks ago my son purchased a small dirt bike for $25 at a yard sale. We checked to make sure the engine worked before we made the purchase. What we didn’t check was to see if the clutch worked. Oops. It didn’t. Benjamin would open the throttle all the way and just barely move a few inches at a time. Thankfully, the owner took the bike back and returned our money!

The same thing can happen in our churches and ministries when it comes to staying focused on our mission. We can get so caught up in everything else that we forget to keep mission, well, front and center. The next thing we know, we go for a ride and discover that we have very little missional momentum.

Here are a few ideas to gain and keep missional momentum.

  • Create a Relevant Mission Statement
    I have several posts about why your mission statement is important and how to build one. You can check them out here.
  • Preach Your Mission
    You should do this often. You don’t need to title the message in the same way and it doesn’t have to be the same message, but you should preach the concepts of your mission regularly. If you don’t, well then I would suggest that perhaps you don’t really have buy-in to the mission of your church. 
  • Use Missional Language Whenever You Can
    Don’t get tired of hearing your mission statement. Include it in every possible conversation, both public and private. Use pieces of the mission statement as well as the whole thing. For instance, our mission statement at EGC includes the word “transforming”. That word is part of our language. Talk about fulfilling your mission when you give key announcements, receive the offering, during a message, during small group, and while counselling. If you haven’t used ‘missional language’ in the last week, then it’s very possible your starting to slip away from your missional focus.
  • Ensure EVERY Leader Knows the Churches Mission
    Any leader that doesn’t know your church mission is a leader who will not be pushing your mission, focusing on your mission, and building your mission into your church culture. Worse, there’s a much greater chance those leaders may slide in their focus, slowly drawing the ministry they lead away from what’s most important.
  • Connect Your Mission To Every Ministry of the Church
    Every ministry in your church should be clearly connected to the mission of your church. They should not have a separate mission statement. Ideally, the leaders will also preach the mission and use missional language whenever possible.
  • Connect Your Mission to Every Volunteer Position in the Church
    If you can’t explain how a volunteer position ultimately helps to fulfill the mission of your church, then you should re-evaluate that position and ministry. Ideally, your volunteers understand the connection as well. For example, perhaps you have a volunteer to lay and spread mulch outside every Spring. Does that volunteer understand that, by spreading this mulch, our community, guests and congregation will drive into the lot feeling welcomed and knowing this church cares about excellence. This (combined with a lot of other things) will motivate and inspire people to come and hear about Christ’s transforming love.
  • Put Your Mission in Print
    Your mission should be on your letterhead, website, in your bulletin, on the wall and anywhere else you can find a place for it to remind you and everyone else why your church is here (perhaps even a t-shirt).
I’m sure there are more thing you can do to stay missional as a church. These will certainly help. Take two minutes right now and ask yourself how you are doing in each of these steps.

Image compliments of hnfg at istockphoto.com

Some Great Mission Statements

Image & Mission of Living Bridge Church in Gibsonia, PA. 2011

Here’s a well guarded secret that I intend to now make known to all (at least to those who read this blog). Nearly every good mission statement is going to reflect the same ideas as other Christ-centered churches. That would be because we are all getting our instructions and mission from the same Person and from the same Book. That makes sense.

That said, every church’s mission statement should reflect who they are and why they believe God has placed them in their location. I don’t recommend that you just grab another mission that sounds good to you – at least until you’ve walked through the strategic process with your team first.

If you are interested in learning more about how to build a mission statement, then consider checking out the following blogs: Mission, Vision, and Values…Oh, My!; Make it So.; Why Mission?; How to Draft a Mission Statement.

Check out these great mission statements from churches around our nation.

Elim Gospel Church in Lima, NY: “To help one another experience Christ’s transforming love so that we can love Him, ourselves, our families, our church and our world.”

Granger Community Church in Granger, IN: “Helping people take their next step toward Christ…together.”

Faith Fellowship Church in Dexter, NY: To live in the light of Jesus Christ: revealing God’s love, restoring true hope, transforming lives.”

Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, NC: “To help spiritual seekers become fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.”

Living Bridge Community Church in Gibsonia, PA: “To change the way people think about church.”

Community Christian Church in Naperville, IL: “Helping people find their way back to God.”

Mobberly Baptist Church in Longview, TX: “To lead all people into a life-changing, ever-growing relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Northpoint Community Church in Alpharetta, GA: “To lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.”

Sagemont Church in Houston, TX: “To provide living proof of a loving God to a watching world.”

LifeChurch.tv in Oklahoma City, OK: “To lead people to become fully devoted followers of Christ.”

Pathways Church in Denver, CO: “Helping lost, broken people become passionate, devoted followers of Jesus Christ.”

Poplar Creek Church in Bartlet, IL: “To create a people with whom God can fellowship, who reflect His glory and are transformed in His image.”

First Church of the Open Bible in Des Moines, IA: “To bring people to Jesus by winning the lost, building and equipping believers, and sending them into their ministry to honor God.”

 

How to Draft a Mission Statement

When I was a teenager I was drafted by my dad to mop the kitchen floor. He handed me one of those mops professionals use with the long strings at the end. I started swiping the floor back and forth with the wet mop head. This went on for a few minutes until he walked into the room and saw what I was doing. He kindly notified me that the proper way to mop was like “this”. In about two minutes I was mopping the floor like a pro. I was also pretty sure my dad knew what he was talking about as he was the Facility Director at the local hospital.

The thing is, I have very rarely seen anyone mop the floor this way. Sure, I’ve seen some pro’s do it, but rarely have I seen the average janitor at local schools or churches use this kind of mop properly. This shocks me almost every time because it’s actually easier and more effective to mop the floor the right way rather than the wrong way. Since I learned what to do so long ago, I just assumed everyone knew how to do it.

The same is true for drafting a mission statement. It can seem intimidating and hard at first, but once you’ve walked through the process most people discover it wasn’t as difficult as they thought it would be. Don’t misunderstand, it’s still work (so is mopping the floor), but it doesn’t have to be an ineffective use of your time.

How to Draft a Mission Statement

  • Pray. The Bible states very clearly that church leaders must “keep watch over you {believers} as those who must give an account” – Hebrews 13: 17. We hold a holy responsibility that should never be held lightly. Make sure you have submitted all of your conversations and ideas to the Lord regularly and first.
  • Start from Scratch. You may have a mission statement already. I suggest you consider setting it aside and begin afresh. The process of revisiting why you do what you do will bring clarity to your church and either confirm or clarify if your current statement is relevant or not.
  • Ask Yourself, “Why are we here?”. One question. Why are we here? This is the question your mission statement will eventually answer. Why does your church exist? 
  • Set aside Assumptions. It’s so easy to make assumptions and hold conversations without addressing those assumptions. Assumptions can create a lot of confusion. I recommend you ask yourself the question, “Is there anything we think about church that we take for granted or just assume?”
  • Brainstorm and Refine. You’ll want to do a lot of brainstorming, and then a lot of refining. Develop lists of ideas, words, sentences on white-boards – and then categorize them, refine them, and update them. You may go through this process several times.
  • Identify Key Words. There will likely be key words that resonate with you and your team. Note them and set them aside for future consideration. You may not use them all, but you will want to consider them when you get to the final stages of your statement construction.
  • Get Feedback. Sometimes teams can get so focused that they get tunnel vision and will miss the obvious. Draft two or three statements you are considering and run them by a few key people for input and feedback to bring back to the team. In fact – email them to me and I’ll give you my thoughts!
  • Benchmark. Check out some other churches mission statements. Be careful though! A lot of churches have missions that mean nothing to them, but sit proudly three layers into their website for anyone to find and copy. Perhaps I will post a few great mission statement examples sometime in the future.
  • Don’t confuse Values with Mission. Don’t confuse your core values with your mission statement. For instance, you hopefully have a core value of being bible-based. That shouldn’t be part of your mission statement. You probably have a value of being caring or generational, etc. Those should be summarized on a different document rather than in the mission statement. 
  • Keep it Biblical. This may seem obvious – perhaps too obvious. Remember Paul’s exhortation to Timothy, “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work” – 2 Timothy 3:16-17.
  • Keep it Broad. You’re mission statement will need to be very broad. You can’t write out everything the church DOES. You need to boil down all of the concepts and Scriptures down to the very basics of ‘why you exist’ as a church in your community. For example, your statement should encompass every ministry and person in your church that you know reflects the heartbeat of your church.
  • Keep it Specific. OK. That sounds like the opposite of broad . . . almost. It’s not. You don’t want to be vague in your terminology. “Providing food and clothes to the homeless.” is both a broad and specific statement.  
  • Keep it Brief. This is the perhaps the hardest part (well, the second hardest). Allen Cox defined a mission as ‘an organization’s brief, compelling statement of purpose.’ I recommend your mission statement be one sentence and no more than two sentences – and if possible short ones. 
  • Keep it Simple. Don’t use a lot of adjectives, christianeze, and run-on sentences. Also, if it requires an extra paragraph explaining the reasoning behind it, it’s too complicated. 
  • Evaluate EVERY Word. That’s right. When you near the end of the process you should ask yourselves if every word accurately reflects what you want to say and why. You will also evaluate whether every word is necessary or not.
  • Make it Memorable. I said above that making the statement brief is the second hardest part. This is probably the hardest for most of us. It needs to be memorable. Something that almost rolls off your tongue. Easy to remember. There’s no point in having a mission statement if your congregation can’t remember it. 
  • Don’t Give Up. Sometimes this process can be overwhelming and tedious. Don’t give up. It will be worth it in the end. If you’re getting stuck, consider taking a break for a few minutes, hours, or days. Try approaching the conversation from a different angle. Split into small groups of 3 and have the small groups tackle the problem and return to discuss what happened. Press through.
  • Don’t Lose Your Sense of Humor. Last but not least, have some fun. Make a few jokes. Laugh a little. It’s OK.

Why Mission?

Why are we doing this?

When I was in High School I got hired to pick rock. It was an inglorious job. Hard labor. Long hours. Sore back. One day after finishing picking rock in a field, the farmer asked me and a buddy to start picking rock in a neighboring field that looked like it never had, nor ever would be, used to grow anything. It was not only full of stones and rocks, it was very uneven. To this day I really don’t know if he had some plan to eventually do something with that land, or if he knew I had an hour left on the clock and was trying to keep me busy. I remember talking to my buddy and asking the question in exasperation, “Why are we doing this?” It was hard work and I wasn’t motivated at all to do the job. At least when I was picking rock in the other fields I had a halfway good idea of ‘why’ I was doing it. Suffice it to say, I didn’t really enjoy the job.

Question. Is your church guilty of that as well? Are there activities, events, perhaps even messages on Sunday’s that aren’t really connected to the mission of your church?

I would like to suggest that if you haven’t taken the time to draft a mission statement, you really don’t know the answer to that. If you DO have a mission statement, but personally don’t know it off the top of your head, then I would also suggest you really don’t know the answer. If you can quote the mission statement, but none of your elders or leaders can, then I still hold that you likely don’t really know if your church regularly or sometimes departs from its God-given purpose.

Defining, refining, and incorporating your church’s mission into the daily life of your church can be one of the most healthy and inspiring things you’ve done in a decade. Really. I’m not just talking about talking. I already talked about that right here. I’m talking about rebuilding your culture around your mission.

Aubrey Malphurs did a great job expressing the benefits to a church mission in her book, Advanced Strategic Planning. Here are a few of them for you to consider:

  • Mission dictates ministry direction.
    When you have a mission statement, you have somewhere to go. Yogi Berra once said, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up someplace else.” 
  • Mission formulates the ministry function.
    You will never do ministry that matters until you define what matters. Your mission will help you clarify, “What are we supposed to be doing?” 
  • Mission focuses the ministry’s future.
    A mission gives you and your congregation something tangible to focus on. It defines you and gives you a hope for what is to come. The opposite is true as well. Without a mission statement the future will look fuzzy and out of focus. You won’t really know for sure where you are going or what you are aiming for.
  • Mission provides a guideline for decision making.
    Mission is to ministry what a compass is to a navigator. It provides a framework for critical thinking and decision making.
  • Mission inspires ministry unity.
    A mission statement can draw your members together as a team or community. It broadcasts, ‘Here is where we are going. Let’s all pull together and with God’s help make it happen.’
  • Mission shapes strategy.
    It’s really hard to create and implement strategic plans and steps when you don’t have a target to aim at. Your mission provides the basic framework for strategy.
  • Mission shapes ministry effectiveness.
    There would be no point, in the scheme of things, to draft a mission if it didn’t have the high potential to improve your overall effectiveness. It does. Studies show that organizations that have and operate from a well drafted mission statement are much more likely to succeed than those that don’t.
  • Mission ensures an enduring organization.
    This is one of my favorites. When you have a mission that the whole church knows and believes in, you have something that will last through multiple pastors and leaders and for years and years to come. It brings consistency and continuity to your church’s future.
  • Mission facilitates evaluation.
    We’ve all heard it said, ‘You can’t expect what you don’t inspect.’ Well, you can’t inspect what you don’t expect, either. If you don’t have a clear goal to aim for then you can’t evaluate how well you are doing in getting there.
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to my readers. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Make it so.

“Make it so.”

Back in the day I was a big fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation. If you watched the series at all you will remember Captain Picard’s famous line, “Make it so.” Leadership gurus all around have gotten tons of mileage out of that little line. Let’s get it done. Do what you need to. Let’s stop talking and start doing.

Here’s the thing. In the church world, we like to talk . . . a lot. Probably too much. This is especially true when it comes to mission, vision, and values. In my last post I wrote a quick and informal definition for each of these three concepts. Here’s what I said,

Your mission can help you and your congregation clarify WHO YOU ARE. It can play a huge role in focusing your leadership on your church being the church the way God designed you to be. Your vision can become an expression of what you believe that will look like one day. It is your hope for the future. Your values can act as your guide, or the guardrails, as you walk down the path from where you are to where you are going.”

Please note the word, “can” in each of those sentences. That was intentional. I really, really wanted to say, “will”. That wouldn’t be realistic. When you finish figuring out your ministry’s mission, vision, and values you are hardly done. In fact, you’ve reached ground zero.

Now you’re ready to create a culture that revolves around your mission. You’re ready to begin the strategic process to see your vision fulfilled. You’re ready to roll-out to your leadership your ministry philosophy in such a way that it becomes part of your language throughout the week, on Sunday mornings, and even in the homes of your church attendees. Now it’s time to, “Make it so.”

How about you? As Andy Stanley has said, “Is the statement on your wall happening down the hall?”

Mission, Vision and Values . . . Oh, My!

mission, vision, and values . . . oh, my!

When I was a kid I watched “The Wizard of Oz” like every other kid about once a year. I had sort of a love/hate relationship with the movie. I never told anyone, but some parts were really scary to me. I did NOT like the wicked witch or the evil winged monkeys. I also remember being really scared the first time Dorothy, Scarecrow and Tin Man met the lion. I know I wasn’t alone. There are few in our nation who don’t know where, “Lions, tigers, and bears. Oh, my!” came from!

I think a lot of pastors feel about the same way about mission, vision, and values. Scary. What in the world are they? How do they fit together (or do they)? And are they really that important? Sometimes people will talk about them like they are somehow connected to the second coming of Christ or something. Certainly, we aren’t going to see God move or church growth without them, right?

I’d like to set the records straight.

In your ministry I think they are important and can be extremely helpful in clarifying who you are, where you are going and how you will get there. That said, you can survive without them. You already knew that. There are thousands of churches in the world that don’t have a clear mission, vision, or values and some of them are doing quite well thank you. God is even showing up and changing lives on a regular basis.

So why this almost religious preoccupation with them? I will say, some people can get a little legalistic and pushy about all this strategic stuff. I try really hard NOT to be one of them, but it is hard.

For me, it can be compared to something like godly counsel in the lives of your congregation. Do you believe that godly counsel could be a valuable and important part of your parishioner’s lives? I’m pretty sure you do.

Do you think they can still survive, hear from God, and grow spiritually without it? Likely.

But you also likely believe that they would be missing a key ingredient in life that could greatly impact their spiritual growth, eliminate unnecessary heartache, and bring them to levels of maturity and spiritual health they could not otherwise obtain.

I think you get the point.

Your mission can help you and your congregation clarify WHO YOU ARE. It can play a huge role in focusing your leadership on your church being the church the way God designed you to be. Your vision can become an expression of what you believe that will look like one day. It is your hope for the future. Your values can act as your guide, or the guardrails, as you walk down the path from where you are to where you are going.

I hope to begin a series this week exploring each of these aspects of church life. Stay tuned for more mission, vision, and values . . . oh, my!