Coming down the new and improved Route 8 north of Akron I see a lot of companies I understand, like Schwebel’s Bakery or all of the hotels and gas stations. But there was one with an interesting name that I had no clue about. I Googled the company name and an on the front page of their website I read the following Mission Statement:
(Company Name) is a full-service global logistics, translation and consulting company that uses technology-driven solutions to integrate and simplify complex global operations. (Company Name) provides solutions that deliver measurable value to customers. Our innovative thought, experience, affordable solutions, and proven dSEC principles provide our customers with a competitive advantage through operational excellence.
After reading that statement I knew one more thing about the company than I had known before: they had obviously hired a consultant to write the mission statement because only a trained profession could squash that much jargon and gobbledy-gook into less than five lines of text. But I still had no idea what they do.
But is the mission of your church any more clear than that?
The mission statement of the United Methodist Church is pretty straightforward: “To make and mature disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
I like it because it includes two critical pieces: making and maturing. In the making, we are called to go out and find people who need God and bring them to him. We are not just to serve our members, but to be in mission to the community and the world. When is the last time more than 10% of your congregation was involved in some outreach? No, delegating this to the designated do-gooders on your missions committee doesn’t count. What if half of your members went out into the community for a day or a week? Could you build houses, teach VBS, pick up trash, mend hearts? You know, be the hands and feet of God like we’re supposed to be?
And the maturing tells us that once they go through the new member class and are assigned an envelope number we’re not off the hook. Does your church have an intentional faith development program? Are there small groups where people can ask questions, discuss their faith and be held accountable? Connecting in a sanctuary on Sunday mornings where we’re expected to sit in rows, face forward and not talk during the sermon is tough. It really does take small groups for those connections to happen.
In spite of the cynicism expressed over misison statements in the Dilbert cartoons, mission statements can be very helpful. But sometimes we say we have one mission statement when in reality the mission of the church is to keep our own members fed and happy.
A church in mission is going to get dirty. We’re going to make people uncomfortable as we stretch them in their faith and deeds, we’ll need to repaint the walls and replace the shovels and someone’s funeral might be delayed a day because we’re feeding the community on Thursday night.
The logistics company (I really don’t even know what that means) above can afford to have jargon for a mission. Your church can’t. I’m not saying you need to spend countless committee hours writing a mission statement. I’m saying you need to make a statement that you’ll be in mission.
Then go follow up that statement with action.