For a while, it was in fashion for churches to spend time crafting the perfect mission statement. Over many meetings, leadership teams would debate the precise words that would best summarize their church’s unique purpose and calling.
Is your mission statement still relevant to the life of your church?
It seems like the mission statement has fallen out of vogue in the last couple years. Why? After working so hard to create a mission statement, many people wondered if they made any difference.
Part of the reason that many churches did not find these useful was because many statements were too vague or too broad. But even when a statement clearly communicated who a church was and what they were called to do, sometimes it ended up being more of a lofty aspiration than an achievable goal.
Creating mission statements is a valuable discipline that can help determine the course for an entire organization. The key is to perform regular mission audits to ensure that you're working in harmony with your purpose. If you currently have a mission statement that you haven't addressed in more than a year, it may be time to rewrite or re-clarify it.
Here are four questions you and your leadership team can ask to audit your mission and ensure that it is relevant to the life of your church:
1. Are we communicating our purpose well?
One of the worst things you can do is pour a bunch of time and energy into creating a mission statement only to put it on your website and forget about it.
Your mission needs to weave its way into the fabric of your church. People need to hear about it, understand it, and identify with it. It isn't until your church body associates themselves with your purpose that it begins to take shape.
Consider how you are reinforcing your church’s calling to your congregation. Do not forget to use channels such as:
- Social media
- Pre-service slides
- Membership classes
2. Are we saying yes to the right things?
To audit your mission, take a close look at what your church is doing. How are your teams spending time, energy, and income? Are you indiscriminately choosing programs that run contrary to your priorities? If your mission statement does nothing else, it should at least equip your leaders to make wise decisions about how you use your resources.
When people come to you with ministry ideas, their pitch should articulate how their suggestion or opportunity will move the church toward its unique calling.
Are there ministries that are not moving your mission forward yet your leadership is afraid to cut them? This might be a sign that you need to readdress your statement. You want a purpose that makes sense in light of your actions. If you are committed to work that you have not prioritized, it is probably time to make it a priority.
3. Are we manifesting our mission more and more?
A mission that is simply inspirational is not beneficial. The whole point is to craft a short statement that creates real-life impact. While it should be ambitious, it should not be so grandiose that it is impossible to express.
A good mission statement should help you visualize the goal, decide on a route to get there, and, over time, allow you to see your progress. If a year has passed and you are no closer to your mission than the day you wrote it, there is a problem.
You may need to reset your course, or you may need to take a fresh look at your mission statement.
4. Do we need to make any adjustments to our mission?
While you do not want to create a continually evolving mission statement, you do need to determine if your mission is still relevant or useful. As we have already seen, sometimes the organization shows you when it has become unhelpful.
Sometimes your community goes through a change that requires a pivot. Imagine that your mission is focused on evangelism, but in the last six months, the factory that supports a majority of your town has closed down. That might suggest a change in focus that is more service oriented.
The point is that sometimes a situation occurs that encourages us to reimagine who we are and what we have been called to do. Make sure you are staying open to responding to those moments.
Your mission matters.
It is essential for a church to identify what they have been called to do so that they can make the best decisions possible in order to grow the Kingdom. If you have taken the time to create a mission statement, great. Once you are regularly auditing that mission, you will experience the most dramatic improvements.
Are you ready? Manifest that mission!