Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Creating Authentic Mission Statements

In my ministry role I often assist pastors and churches trying to revision what the future might be for their ministry. Often they find themselves in a challenging moment and they know they cannot continue with the status quo. They know they need a fresh vision to take them to a new level of ministry. They often have an idea of what that vision should be but need help articulating it in a way that people can rally around.

I also get to work with a lot of new churches. These new churches are in a unique position where they get to craft a brand new vision instead of trying to rediscover or revitalize an old one.

Both scenarios are very exciting to me and it is fulfilling to watch a vision emerge from a group of people united in faith and service to Christ. Many churches, whether new or old, choose to express that vision with some catchy mission or vision statement that encapsulates all they are trying to express in some succinct way.

Normally these statements are catchy and creative, worthy of being on a bumper sticker or a twitter post. But I must confess, there are times when I find mission statements less helpful than they should be. For mission statements to be helpful, they have to actually express the real mission of the church. They can’t just be lofty theological statements that sound good to theologians but mean nothing to the community. It has to be a statement the typical person in the community who has not been to seminary and might not be particularly religious will understand. 

For example, recently I saw one that said "to the glory of God and for the advancement of his kingdom we will take the gospel to every corner of the earth." To a seminary student that actually sounds like a wonderful mission statement. But to the average person on the street who is not quite sure what the glory of God is or what the advancement of His kingdom means, it is just a bunch of nonsense words. Even to a long term Christian who understands what the words mean, there is a real question about whether this church can really take the gospel to the farthest corners of the world. If they are like most churches, they are probably thinking more about how they can solve hunger right in their own community or address homelessness in their own community, rather than around the world. I’m not saying that a church should not have a huge world wide vision. I’m just saying that an effective mission/vision statement has to be something the people in the community can grab hold of. Unless your community is an international community that thinks about the whole world, a world wide vision might communicate far less effectively than you think.

If you are going to craft an authentic mission statements, start with an examination of stuff your church has actually done frequently in the last six months. Then look at how your church spends it money. Those two things will reveal your REAL mission. If you real mission is not what it should be, a catchy phrase of what you wish it would be won't change much. You will have to go deeper and change your real values before you can create an authentic mission statement. That may take longer than you want it to, but it will be a better statement in the end, one you will actually work toward achieving.


Dr. Terry W. Dorsett serves at the Executive Director of the Baptist Convention of New England. He has been a pastor, church planter, denominational leader and author in New England for more than 20 years. He is a happy husband, a proud father and adoring grandfather. He is a cancer survivor and believes that God works powerfully through times of suffering. He writes extensively and you can find all of his books at:

1 comment:

  1. Hi Terry,
    Well, I have a mission statement: REPENT and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you and your household shall be saved, believe NOT, and you shall be damned.

    Oops ! did I mentioned the word REPENT ?

    Well, repent is a dirty word in today's christianity, and surely they would not mention that dirty word in order to win a lost soul for the Lord Jesus Christ.