Credit it to the jaded nature of my generation, if you will, for I am somewhat skeptical of organizational mission statements. The idea of the mission statement is that it is to be a pithy and memorable distillation of the purpose of an organization. When well phrased, they can provide direction, clarity, and energy.
Sadly many mission statements are an uninspiring jumble of boardroom jargon that is largely meaningless to most employees and customers. Consider the mission of that bastion of creativity, the Walt Disney Corporation: “The Walt Disney Company’s objective is to be one of the world’s leading producers and providers of entertainment and information, using its portfolio of brands to differentiate its content, services and consumer products. The company’s primary financial goals are to maximize earnings and cash flow, and to allocate capital toward growth initiatives that will drive long-term shareholder value.” It makes one want to leap up and start making movies, doesn’t it? Such egregious examples feed my cynicism.
However, there are counter examples that defy me with their clarity and sincerity. For example, CVS Pharmacy has a very simple mission: “We provide expert care and innovative solutions in pharmacy and health care that are effective and easy for our customers” It’s clear, attainable, and is free of obfuscation. Even more pithy is the mission of Darden restaurants: “To nourish and delight everyone we serve.” These well phrased mission statements distill all the activities of their organizations into a single sentence summary.
Crafting a good mission statement is a daunting task for any organization – especially a church. How do we distill our understanding of the Bible’s teaching about the work of the church into a single memorable sentence. Many churches eschew mission statements, but they have “guiding statements” that function the same way. Cincinnati Vinyard church has the slogan “Small deeds done with great love will change the world” which is emblazoned on their building. Meanwhile Crossroads summarises their raison d’etre in this way “We wanted a place to bring our friends, minus the church lingo, bad coffee and kum-ba-yah.”
Our Covenant-First Mission statement may not be the most clever or blood stirring church mission statement ever written, but I believe it is faithful and deeply rooted in who we are: “Covenant-First’s mission is to praise the Father, proclaim the Son, and submit to the perfecting power of the Holy Spirit.”
Simply put, our mission isn’t about us; it’s about how we relate to the living Triune God. Our mission involves the actions of praise and proclamation, but also the dependence implied by submission. I hope our mission conveys the whole-life nature of Christianity. We don’t just praise God for an hour on Sundays; rather we are to be instruments of praise. Our lives are to be living hallelujahs as we carry about the fragrance of Christ wherever we go. We don’t just proclaim the Son from our pulpit; our every action and deed points to the authority of the Son over our lives. And we don’t live this way through the agency of our own willpower; we graciously call out to the Holy Spirit for strength and guidance and learn more and more what it is to submit our lives.
I invite you to ponder our church’s mission statement. But more importantly, I invite you to seek to know God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit more deeply and richly. In so doing, you’ll live what we’ve tried to encapsulate in the mission statement.
Soli Deo Gloria
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Article originally published in the October 2011 edition of The Covenant Courier