When I travel, I always ask two questions: “Where are the best donuts?” and “What’s a good church to try?” The donut question never fails to get a lively conversation going -- I usually end up with several solid suggestions, directions, flavors to try, and secret menus. And let me tell you, there are some great donut options all over this country of ours.
The church question is harder. Granted, it’s a different level of commitment. The donuts are with me “forever” very differently than the way Jesus is always with me.
Occasionally, I’ll get a really good answer, but usually people tell me something like,
“That one is close to my house.”
“This one is good for my kids.”
“I used to date a guy over at XYZ, and I kinda stuck around.” Or,
“I like how I feel anonymous over there.”
Any reason to go to church can be a good reason, but some good reasons are better than other good reasons.
Understand Your Church
Do you know how your congregation describes your church?
Do they pause and finally tell their friends something like, “Well, I like it a lot. They’re nice and the band is cool.” Your church is so much more than “nice.” Help your congregation know (and be able to communicate to others) what makes your church different, special, and unique.
You want your church to grow, deepen, and mature. Most churches have tried many different kinds of outreach: youth events, Christmas concerts, Easter egg hunts, free counseling, new sermon series, movie nights, and the list goes on and on. But no one thing (even a shiny new website) is going to single-handedly improve your church’s trajectory. Year after year, the growth and maturity is going to come from having a unified vision with staff and volunteers who are truly excited to be a part of what your church--their church--specifically is doing.
All those programs can be great things -- and they probably are. The most effective churches are able to wrap all of their “ministries” up in the blanket of a great church Mission Statement.
Clarity is Key
What are the ideas that get your congregation motivated? Are you better at reaching out? Or building up? Do you aim for the perfect balance? We all love Jesus and want the rest of the world to feel His love, too. What unique ways is your church spreading the Great Commission?
Most church Mission Statements are already “in the room” so to speak. When your leadership team gathers, you all probably already have similar goals and dreams for the work of your church. The point of formal church mission statements is to get it all out in the open, but more importantly, to get everyone excited and give clarity for decision making.
The power of extablishing a mission statement comes from removing the “similar” intentions and replacing them with the “same” purpose.
Writing Church Mission Statements, in a Nutshell
When you’re ready to start making these changes and developing clarity around your Mission, here are a few simple steps to follow:
Discover It - Do some brainstorming and remember why you love your church. Find the areas that get your leadership team and your congregation excited.
Write It - Turn those ideas into a statement of Cause + Action + Result = Mission. Try to keep it focused and unique to your congregation.
Shorten It - A Mission Statement is not a book, or a creed. It’s a simple, short, memorable statement of why you gather every week. Keep it simple.
Try It Out - Ask some people to tell you what they think. Do they understand it, do they like it, are they excited to go where you’re going?
Live It Out - Try your new Mission Statement on for size for a while. Make sure these goals fit with this group of people. Give it time for lingering doubts to surface and get resolved.
Revisit It - Plan for reassessment in a year or two. You may have hit it right on, or you may need to adjust. There’s no problem either way, just be honest and ask yourself the question.
Unity on the Leadership Team
Help your leadership team embrace your new Church Mission Statement by doing two things: First, include them in the process. We encourage you to take an afternoon or a staff meeting and talk about these things. Ask questions about your purpose, ask each other why you are excited to come to work each day.
And secondly, church Mission Statements aren't something that you “enforce.” Take the time to get your team on board and agree with each other. Resolve hesitations, pray with and for each other through this process, and do the hard work of getting alignment and agreement.