Developing a mission statement for your ministry may not seem like an important detail in light of everything you may have on your to-do list. But, I would argue that it may be one of the most important things you can do for the success and growth of your ministry. Even if you have had a mission statement for several years, I would encourage you to set aside time to think through this part of your ministry’s game plan.
What is a Mission Statement?
Aubrey Malphurs in his book Advanced Strategic Planning: A 21st-Centruty Model for Church and Ministry Leaders says, “A clear biblical mission serves to bring into focus the church’s ministry future.” A mission statement clearly communicates the direction the ministry is headed and answers the question, “What are we supposed to be doing?” When you begin developing a mission statement, remember that it should be broad and explain the overall goal of the ministry. It is not supposed to explain how or why, it simply explains in one or two sentences what the ministry exists to do.
Here is an example of the mission statement for the ministry I lead:
The mission of the Sherwood Student Worship Program is
“Developing student worship leaders who will impact their world.”
Why is it important to have a mission statement?
Knowing what your mission is and being able to clearly define it is not only an important leadership principle but a biblical idea as well. Jesus had a mission statement. You can find it in John 6:38, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of Him who sent me.” Gene Wilkes says in his book, Jesus on Leadership, “His (Jesus) personal mission was to serve not his own will but the will of his Father.”
Wilkes points out that we can see Jesus explaining his mission statement in multiple places throughout the Gospels in Luke 4:18-19; Mark 10:45 and Luke 19:10. “Jesus articulated his mission in order to define what he was as Messiah. Where and how he led flowed from a clear sense of why he had come in the first place,” says Wilkes.
As ministry leaders we need to have a clear purpose behind the ministries we lead. From that purpose will flow our vision and strategy for achieving our mission. Failure to develop a mission statement can lead to confusion over the purpose of our ministry and cause us to lose focus of what is truly important.
How to Develop a Mission Statement
1. Commit to Developing Your Mission
Know that this process will take time and should not be taken lightly. You are developing the purpose and direction of your ministry. Do not rush through this process. Write and rewrite your mission until it is exactly what it needs to be.
2. Answer the Question, “What Are We Supposed to Be Doing?”
Your mission statement has one purpose, to answer the question, “What are we supposed to be doing?” It will not tell people why or how you will accomplish your mission, that will come later. It simply defines your ministry’s purpose and what you plan to accomplish.
Example: Here are three examples of good mission statements:
LifeChurch.tv (Edmond, OK): To lead people to become fully devoted followers of Christ (10)
Granger Community Church (Granger, IN): Helping people take their next step toward Christ…together (9)
Red Rock Church (Littleton, CO): To connect with God, connect with others, and connect others with God (12)
For more examples of good mission statements visit ChurchRelevance.com
3. Write It
E.M. Forster wrote, “How can I know what I think until I see what I say?” When developing your mission statement, write it out. This may seem like an unnecessary step, but putting pen to paper will help you think more strategically through this process. There is just something about writing out our thoughts that can help us process what we are thinking. So spend time writing and rewriting your mission statement until you are able to develop what you believe clearly defines what your ministry is to be doing.
“Writing is thinking on paper.”
4. Keep It Short and Make It Memorable
Aubrey Malphurs says that a good mission statement will fit on a tee shirt. Mission statements are not long. People need to be able to memorize it easily. Look at the examples above. They are good, clear and can easily be memorized but they may not fit easily on a tee shirt. If your mission statement is like mine and won’t easily fit on a tee shirt, it’s fine. The main point is to not make it lengthy and difficult to remember.
Here are a few examples of churches with mission statements that can easily be placed on a tee shirt:
City of Grace (Phoenix, AZ): Loving people to life (4 words)
Westover Hills (San Antonio, TX): Making New, Making Great (4 words)
The City Church (Kirkland, WA): To show you who Jesus is (6 words)
Biltmore Baptist (Arden, NC): Making disciples of Christ (4 words)
Thoughts to Consider
- What is the purpose of your ministry? Why does it exists?
- How would you explain your ministry’s purpose in one sentence?
- Is your ministry’s purpose easy for people to remember and recite?
I hope this helps you in either developing or redefining your ministry’s mission statement. I would love to hear about the ministry you lead. What is your mission statement? Why does your ministry exists?
Please know that this is the first step in developing your ministry game plan. The next step will be to develop a vision statement and then a strategic action plan for fulfilling that vision. I’ll be writing on these two things in the coming weeks. Have a great week and I hope to hear from you soon.