Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Mission Statements

Over the years, I've attended multiple seminars on being "purpose-driven," mission-minded and visionary. Having read many books on the topic as well, I can say that the whole discipline of developing mission and vision statements is still undervalued by most people. This is understandable since the mission statements have become the stuff of legendary mockery. Everyone has encountered the cantankerous worker at the business whose mission statement is "to provide friendly and attractive service for every customer." Or perhaps we've worked at the business with slippery ethics that has an enormous banner in the break room that reads, "Our mission: to exemplify integrity and excellence through our commitment to unshakable ethics and performance." These jokes make their way on Saturday Night Live skits. They also tend to empty the process of forming mission statements of a great deal of meaning.

Having said this, I think the process of developing a mission statement for one's self, for a family and for an organization is extremely helpful. In addition, the product of that process (the statement itself) serves to help all participants remember what their main task is. I've gone through the process on a number of occasions, developing statements for the activities I engage. For example, in Redding, CA for North Valley Kung Fu our mission was "to train and equip the finest protectors in the world." This was an ambitious mission, but it truly captured what it was we focused on whenever we entered the studio.

We have an Ott family mission statement: to pursue a loving and biblical marriage that produces godly children able to build their own Christ-centered homes. This statement was developed by Naomi and I not long after Jessica was born, and it has informed our decisions about family practice and culture ever since. We have not always adhered to this principle, but at least we have something with which to gauge our activities and determine whether our not we have gotten off track.

Now my church approaches a season in its life when it is necessary to revisit this process anew. The purpose, values and culture of the church are experiencing change, presumably instigated by the Holy Spirit who directs his people according to his own wisdom. The result is that a new mission statement is necessary to capture, in simplified form, that which we believe God is having us specifically perform in the missio Dei. Along with such a statement, it is necessary for us to clarify what we truly value as a church body (not just generically, but specifically), imagine a picture of what the future looks like if we faithfully execute that mission (this typically is a vision statement) and strategize a process for executing that mission. All of this is exciting, but quite involved. It is best when broadly participatory, but this slows the process - requiring patience. Whatever the final product of this process may be for my church, it is my hope that the statement will closely resemble:

To Recruit, Train and Send Out the most loving and contagious Disciples of Jesus Christ in the World.

It's my desired mission for the church. We'll see what the product of a more participatory process looks like.

No comments: