|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.