I imagine that it’s no surprise that many (dare I say most) seminary trained pastors – and even business trained pastors – lean toward the verbose and the grandiloquent. In some writings, I suppose, that’s acceptable. However, when it comes to defining a church’s mission, vision, and values, our over-learnedness often gets in the way.

In fact, I caught this post from the Harvard Business Review Daily Stat just the other day.

In a study that looked at hundreds of hospitals as well as a toy company, researchers found that leaders are prone to adopting “blurry visions” of their organizations’ missions, using abstract language that offers no visual images around which employees can build a shared sense of purpose. The study, led by Andrew M. Carton of the Wharton School, also finds that leaders tend to adopt too many key values. Ideally, companies’ mission statements should contain image-evoking words and no more than 4 values, the researchers say.1

Here’s an example of a blurry vision statement that I came across: First Church is committed to developing a Christ-like culture where seeker and saint, pilgrim and wanderer, cynic and skeptic can find authentic Christian love, caring, and compassion in such a way that they are transformed into people who live life well.

Although I’m sure we all want to “live well” and that’s a noble idea, but I’m wondering if there are any church members (or staff members, for that matter) who wake up each morning ready to leap out of bed because that vision statement is burning in their hearts.

I doubt it.

In fact, I doubt there’s anyone in the congregation – pastor included – who could even recall a facsimile of the vision statement, let alone quote it verbatim.

Jim Collins wrote that memorable and effective purpose statements would fit on a t-shirt … or I’d add on a bumper sticker.

Here are a couple of good, short, clear purpose or mission statements:

  • Helping people say “Yes!” to Jesus
  • Inviting and welcoming people to kingdom living
  • Connect, Grow, Reach

And here are a couple of what I call the “Vision Heart” statements – the heart-throb image of a vision statement:

  • Being the “Bless you” church
  • Hope floats here
  • Being and making great neighbors

(Note: each of these vision hearts were tied to measurable results – a BHAG, to borrow Jim Collins’ business term.)

And here are a couple value statements that are concise enough to be useful in measuring decisions and behaviors:

  • Excellence, Prayer, and Community
  • Hospitality, Teamwork, Focus
  • Community, Acceptance, Relationships, Encouragement (note the acronym CARE)

By and large, these examples are memorable and many of them evoke images that are both inspiring and motivating. Frankly, if you want to lead your congregation forward, compelling mission and vision statements that your folks can remember and perhaps even internalize is a pretty good place to start.

Question: What are some great mission, vision, or values statements that you’ve come across? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below.

1      https://hbrblogs.wordpress.com/2015/02/five-company-values-is-one-value-too-many/


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