Ministry Insight For Church Leaders

By Gary L. Mcintosh

Mission Statement

Churches are rightfully focused on developing four statements: a mission statement, a core values statement, a vision statement, and a goal statement.

Unfortunately, many people are confused as to the difference among those four areas A simple way to understand the differences is to think of them in this manner:

Mission: What we do
Values: What we believe
Vision: What we see
Goals: What we achieve

Essentially, mission is the biblical reason a church exists. It reminds us in a short statement what we are to do as Christ’s church.

The mission of a church never changes, and it can never completely be accomplished. For example, here is how one church states its mission:

The mission of Grace Church is to present the Gospel to all people preparing them to be followers of Jesus Christ.

As you can see, this mission can never be completely fulfilled. As long as there are lost people living without a personal relationship with Christ, and others who need to grow in
their walk with Christ, this mission will still be viable.

Mission Statement Basics

While much could said about mission statements, there are seven basics to keep in mind.

First, a mission statement should be biblical; that is, it must be founded on the Word of God. The sample mission statement just noted is clearly supported by the Great Commission in Matthew 28:1920, as well as numerous other scriptures. The mission of a church is to be the same as Christ’s mission, since he is the head of the church, his body.

Second, a mission statement should be short. To be useful, it must be short enough for people to remember. Long mission statements are notoriously difficult to keep in mind. A mission statement that is less than twenty-five words in length is best. The previous example is only twentyone words. And, it can even be stated in a shorter version: The mission of Grace Church is to prepare people to be followers of Jesus Christ. That is only fifteen words!

Third, a mission statement should note the things a church must do. Writing a mission statement gently forces a church to consider its essential nature. While there are many good things a church “can” do, what “must” it do? Looking back at the sample mission statement, one can see that the mission that must be done is to present the gospel to all people.

Fourth, a mission statement is not about- us, it is about them. It may be a myth, but a maxim in big-game hunting states that the larger an animal is, the harder it is to see. Evidently, the animal is so obvious that it is mistaken for something so benign and familiar that it is missed. The point? We sometimes miss the obvious. It is something like the old adage, “You can’t see the forest for the trees.” We spend a great deal of time missing the obvious. When writing a mission statement, do not try to be cute, just state the obvious.

Fifth, a mission statement must be communicated constantly. At first most churches simply share their mission statement from the pulpit and hope people catch the spirit of it. Later they usually discover that people do not even recall having heard it. A mission statement must be communicated consistently in many different ways. Hang banners in the auditorium that state the mission. Print it on all pieces of literature from the church. Weave it into sermons about every other week until people remember it. In short do all you can to keep the mission before the people.

Sixth, a mission statement must be owned by the congregation. The problem is not just getting people to remember the mission statement; it is getting them to own it! People have a lot in common, but getting them to have a “shared mission” means going to a higher level. Two times it is said of the church in Jerusalem that they had “one mind” (Acts 1:14; 2:46), and once it is said that they were of “one heart and soul.” (Acts 4:32). When your people are of one soul, heart, and mind when it comes to the mission statement, you have reached your objective.

Seventh, a mission statement is not a quick fix. It takes a long time to capture the hearts of people. So, while it is crucial to write a simple statement of your church’s mission, do not stop there. Live it out in your own life and ministry. Let your people see that the main leadership board members live by it.

Notes on the concept of mission statements:

-Mission (or the purpose of the church) is the reason you exist. It defines and describes the Biblical calling which God has led you to carry out. The mission statement answers the question, “what is our ministry?”

-Target (who is it you intend to reach) has to be focused. While you will reach a broader group than simply your target, you must be clear on your main target (early families, empty nester, etc). Biblical target ministry has been used by Jeremiah (“the kings of Judah, its officials, its priests and the people of the land.” – Jer. 1:18), Paul (“I has been entrusted with the task of preaching the gospel to the Gentiles, just as Peter had been to the Jews.” – Gal. 2:17), and even Jonah who passed several countries or people groups to get to Nineveh, his target.

-Shared values (the way in which you will image God as the body of Christ) define the way in which you will provide the ministry that is described in your mission statement. When individuals write personal values such as integrity, loyalty, etc., they usually discover that the value, a general description of that value and the intensity they feel about it is directly related to life experiences that they have had. The same is true of the church. Shared values answer the question, “how do we go about our ministry?”

-Vision (or preferred future/next chapter of ministry) is a brief summary statement that brings into focus the next chapter of your journey with God. A vision statement should be real enough that you can see it, but future enough so that you have to rely on God’s blessing to get you there. A vision statement answers the question, “where are we going?”

-Ministry is an expanding/contracting circle that is bounded by shared ownership, effective communication and levels of trust. The greater all three of these are, the greater capacity a church has for ministry. If any or all three are diminished, the capacity for ministry in the church will also be diminished. Simply identifying mission, values and vision will not create ministry capacity. The ability of these three items to function is directly proportional to the amount of effort you put into the three boundaries of ministry.

-Communication between different groups within the church is indicated using the dotted lines. Churches, which are committed to their mission, values, and vision, use them like the rudder on a ship. Each decision, ministry opportunity and plan will be evaluated by its ability to carry out the mission, conform to the values and move the church toward its vision. Those with greater ability to fit the mission, values and vision would likely receive greater consensus of support and greater resources.

-Implementation of the center throughout the ministry of the church acts like a magnet rather than like a wall. People will be drawn to the church by its mission, values and shared vision rather than walled in by boundaries. They experience the ministry as Biblical, focused and honest in its dealings. In turn, the church can open up its ministry to the gifts and dreams of individual members and teams as long as the ministries that they envision are consistent with the mission, values and vision.

There are likely a lot of different reasons that it takes a long time for church members to gain ownership in the mission. However, the main issue appears to be that the natural process of communication creates loss at every level on the communication chain. Here is what I mean.

At the top level, the mission is shared with an expectation that the people will remember 100 percent of it. Yet, the second level of leadership (the main board) actually catches only about 90 percent of it. As the mission is communicated further down the various levels of church leadership, more and more of it is lost until fewer and fewer people understand it. At the third tier of leadership (ministry leaders), only about 67% of the message is heard. By the fourth tier (volunteers), only 50% is received. When the communication reaches the congregation, only about 30% of the message is received. This is why commercials on television or the radio are repeated so much. The first time you hear a commercial for a fast food restaurant, for instance, you do not remember much about it. But by the time you have heard the commercial over and over, you are singing their song.

Each time it is shared, more of the message is remembered. So, be sure to share your mission over and over with your congregation. Eventually, they will be singing the song.