On Mission Statements
- The Rev. Dr. Bill Murray
- Jun 25, 2019
- Blog Feed
From time to time I end up in a conversation with my fellow clergy about matters both critical and inane in our ministries. The church has a special ability to blend those supposedly extreme and opposite positions. That is not a critique as much as a statement on how the church can work. We are a community doing the best we can to follow Jesus. Some days we get that work right and other days we argue about which color to paint the hallway. For me, one of those moments where the critical and inane can quickly collide is “mission statements.”
Likely emulating businesses with clear plans or even looking towards the powerful work reflected in the Harvard Business School monograph From Good to Great, churches have been crafting mission statements for decades. From time to time you find a good one. Most of the time you get one that was clearly written by a committee. You know the one. It starts off strong, “We are called to love Jesus . . .” Then it suddenly begins to swing to what surely had to be specific interests of folks on the committee “who loved the little children and cared for the widowed and orphaned and never forget those of advanced years . . .” From there the mission statement starts to take wild turns “we are called to love others, ensure our buildings are well maintained, provide programs to enlighten and entertain, with wonderful music and great liturgy.” While mission statements list all sort of things, they never say “and we should give generously of our wealth/resources.”
I find it endlessly humorous to read Mission Statements because they almost always miss the point of being a church. Let me say it clearly. I love our buildings at Holy Innocents’. I love our school. I love the staff. I love the energy and excitement. Jesus has a pretty clear mission statement. A version of it was written on the wall behind the altar at my seminary, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” (Matthew 28:19a) Virginia tweaked it to read, “Go therefore into the world and preach the Gospel.” The full verse goes, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
The work we all have to do is the same. Jesus’ mission statement is clear. Bring more people to church. Bring more people to know Jesus and God. It is not about more money. It is not about more events or buildings. It is about God’s people coming together to share the burdens of life with God and one another. The work we have ahead of us in the years and decades to come will always be the same. Invite more people to join us at church, welcome those who arrive, and seek ways to connect with them and others in our community. Join me this year in inviting friends to experience the gift of our loving church and to know God in a real and immediate way.